Prayer Life: How your personality affects the way you pray by Pablo Martinez is a book on prayer and psychology and is based on a series of talks given at the Old Word Alive. I always find Martinez Biblical, insightful, wise, medically astute and encouraging – this book did not disappoint me! You can read my review of his book on suffering here.
This is a book about how our psychological make-up affects our prayer life. His aim is clear:
‘I would like my readers to think of prayer without guilt, because too often we associate the two. Prayer should bit be just one more burden in life, but a pleasure to enjoy‘.
Martinez is a qualified counsellor and has lectured in these areas, but has also been the president of the Spanish GBU (UCCF) and Evangelical Alliance, and so you have a very unique man – a deeply theological and medical man.
The book looks at how we can be Introverted or Extroverted, and how psychological functions such as sensation, intuition, thinking and feeling, affect our prayer lives. All of these affect the way we are, who we are, and how we pray. In looking at this, Martinez does not fall into the trap of saying, ‘well, that’s why we struggle…oh well’ . Rather, he is clear:
‘This does not mean our prayer life is completely at the mercy of emotional and circumstantial factors… psychological determinism.’
So, Martinez looks at how we can develop a more rounded prayer life, but also highlight area’s where we should not feel guilty if we are not the same as another Christian.
He ends with a helpful chapter looking at the accusations people lay at Christian prayer.
The 3 strong points of this book are:
1. Martinez knows the Bible. He has spent years studying the Scriptures and all that he says in Biblically informed and wise.
2. Martinez knows the Mind. The book is drenched in psychological insight and helpful comments about how our mind works and why we feel the way we do. I found some of the insights amazing.
3. Martinez knows our Struggles. He writes as a loving counsellor who wants to help and serve us. Although there are deep doctrinal and psychology moments, the book is very warming.
The greatest moment in the book for me was when he was dealing with those who don’t feel much during prayer (like me), but that doesn’t affect the success of the prayer as prayer is not ‘about what happens inside, but between’. That is, prayer is not primarily about what happens in me – but between me and God. That was a very freeing moment for me.
I wouldn’t recommend this book if you have never studied any psychology. Whilst it does not go too deeply into academic issues, it does go deep enough to make the book seem rather academic at the start.
Feelings are therefore not a reliable thermometer by which to measure the quality of our prayers – much less the depth of our faith.
Many prayers go accompanied by a feeling of conviction of sin. This feeling is positive, for it is reflects spiritual maturity.
WHO SHOULD READ THIS BOOK
Any Christian with a more ‘thinking’ mind who struggles with their prayer life should read this. It will be really helpful.
Pastors and small group leaders should read this to make sure they understand that there are legitimate reasons for people being different in their prayer life.
Although a difficult book (but short), I still think this book is GREAT.