Praying Together and a Giveaway!

On the center of our kitchen table we have a little jar filled with popscicle sticks. On each stick is written a prayer concern. As we sit together for meals each day, we take turns praying. Whoever is praying takes a stick and prays for that need. We pray for health concerns of loved ones, missionaries, salvation for loved ones, cultural issues, as well personal prayer concerns.

Each time we pray together as a family, we are participating in corporate prayer.


When most of us think of prayer, we think of our individual prayer life. In Megan Hill's new book, Praying Together, she talks about the importance of corporate prayer, of praying together with other's in the Body of Christ. And not only the importance, but the joy and privilege of joining together with our brothers and sisters in Christ to pray. 

Praying Together is divided into three sections: the foundations of praying together (the why of praying together), the fruits of praying together (what God does through our praying together), and the practice of praying together (the how and practical suggestions for praying together). The book includes study questions for use in group settings. 

One of my favorite truths that Megan starts out the book with is the fact that "a Christian never prays alone" (p. 17). Prayer is relational and the Trinity is actively involved in our prayers. "Our relationship with the God who is three-in-one assures us that all three will involve themselves in our praying--making the prayers of a Christian part of a grand, heavenly conversation..In prayer, we approach a loving, listening Father, and we are helped by the intercession of the Son and the groaning of the Spirit." (p. 22-23). What a joy to meditate on this truth!

I also appreciated the chapter on revival. Megan shares a number of stories about the ways God has used the corporate prayers of his people to bring about spiritual revival. From just a few people meeting weekly to pray together for their city, God moved in the hearts of thousands. 

In her chapter on discipleship, Megan shares how God uses corporate prayer in discipleship. "In praying together we disciple one another: we strengthen one another's faith, testify to our experiences of God, shape one another's repentance and desires, stir one another to thanksgiving, and encourage one another in godly habits." (p. 70). And it's so true! As I thought about the times I have prayed with those in my church, all these areas of discipleship were true for me. 

Christina: What prompted you to write this book and who is the intended audience?

 Megan: I wrote this book because I truly love praying with other people. I am a daughter of the church, and from my earliest years I can remember sweet times of praying with God's people--in Lord's Day worship, in church prayer meetings, and with my family. And because I love praying with others, I was surprised to discover that there was really no contemporary, Reformed book on the subject.  Many excellent writers and theologians have addressed the topic of private prayer, but there isn't much modern writing on corporate prayer. I hope this book will be read by individual Christians, but I especially hope it will be read by communities--by families and discipleship groups and even whole churches--who can then take up the work of praying together with greater enthusiasm.

Christina: Was there anything that came out of your research/study for the book that you didn't expect or surprised you in some way? 

Megan: I discovered some wonderful anecdotes about prayer meetings throughout church history. Praying with other people is not a new idea, and I found and retold some stories in my book that still bring me to tears even on the 10th or 12th re-reading. I'm particularly moved by the rich tradition of children's prayer meetings and the way the Lord often used groups of praying children to bring blessing on his church. (I discuss some of these stories about children in this article here.)  

Christina: Did your own prayer life change at all in the process of writing this book? 

Megan: I think writing this book has certainly made me look forward to times of corporate prayer even more than before. Also in the course of writing I grew in my conviction that saying an audible "Amen" during corporate prayers can be a valuable act of whole-hearted participation--even for Presbyterians like me! (I discuss this practice in this article here).

Christina: If there is one thing people take away from the book, what do you hope that would be?

Megan: I hope they pray together more! And I hope people read my book and realize that when we pray with other people we are doing important kingdom work. Sometimes I think people don't realize that when one person is praying aloud, the whole group is actually praying just as earnestly in their hearts. So when the pastor prays from the pulpit, we get distracted because we don't commit ourselves to praying alongside him. In reality, we are all praying--young children and elderly widows, men and women, church leaders and church members, new believers and mature Christians. Praying together is work for all of us.

Christina: Do you have one personal story of praying in community that you didn't share in the book that you'd like to share now?

Megan: About a year ago, I went with my children to visit a woman in our church who was dying of cancer. She was very weak and could barely speak, and when I asked her if we could pray with her, she could only nod her head and close her eyes. My children (who were 6,7, and 8 years-old) and I took turns praying aloud as we held her hands. After we said, "Amen," she looked up and smiled at us. In that moment, I realized what a gift it is to someone who is beyond the ability to speak to have other Christians come and give words to her prayers. When I am dying, I hope others do the same with me. I never saw that sister again--she died very soon after--but I know we will spend eternity praising God together for His answer to that hospital-bed prayer meeting.

Want a copy of Praying Together: The Priority and Privilege of Prayer: In Our Homes, Communities, and Churches (The Gospel Coalition (Women's Initiatives))? Enter to win a copy below. I have three to giveaway! US residents only please.

Disclaimer: I received this book for free in exchange for this review. The thoughts and opinions are my own. This post may also contain Amazon Affiliate links.

Book Review: The Ology

This semester in homeschool, we've started a new thing that I call "Theological Truth Thursday." During our Bible time on Thursday mornings, I teach my children a theological term. They write it down, along with the definition, and we discuss its meaning and significance to our faith. We've discussed words like theology, omniscience, and justification. 

Recently I had the opportunity to review a new children's book called The Ology. It has been a perfect addition to what I am trying to accomplish with Theological Truth Thursday. This book is one of those books that families will read over and over and with one child to the next. 

The Ology: Ancient Truths, Ever New is a picture book, written by Marty Machowski. You may be familiar with his other children's books, Long Story Short: Ten-Minute Devotions to Draw Your Family to God and Old Story New: Ten-Minute Devotions to Draw Your Family to God. The Ology teaches children foundational theological truths in simple terms and in short chapters.

It begins with the story of a young boy and girl exploring around the cellar of an old church. They stumble across a book called The Ology. It is a long-forgotten book written for children to understand deep truths about God. They open its pages and begin reading the first chapter titled, "God Always Was and Always Will Be." 

Each chapter is one to three pages long and provides basic instruction in theological truths of the Christian faith.  There are seventy-one chapters in all, divided into eleven sections. Some of the sections include: The Ology of Sin, The Ology of Christ, The Ology of the Church, and The Ology of God's Word. 

From a chapter discussing God's holiness:

"Is it possible to get close enough to the sun to scoop out a sample to bring home in a jar? Of course not, the sun's surface is so hot is would burn you up before you even got close. While we know we can't touch the sun, a lot of folks don't understand that God's holy light--his glory and holiness--shines brighter than the sun. Just like we can't touch the sun, sinful people, still under judgment, can't get near to our holy God" (p.85).

This beautifully illustrated book is intended to be used with children both in elementary school and in older grades as well. There is a parent guide with helpful suggestions for how to use the book with both young and older children. For older children, there are Bible passages provided in each chapter for further reading and study. There are discussion questions for each chapter at the end of the book as well. Each theological truth is explained using examples and illustrations that children understand. The images are engaging and pertinent to the chapter, but not distracting. 

I do wish that the author had incorporated more of the terms we use for the theological concepts he describes. While he does define words such as "atonement" and "sanctification" he doesn't use terms like omnipotence or omnipresence when he describes God as all-powerful and that he is everywhere.  

The Ology: Ancient Truths, Ever New is a wonderful new discipleship tool for parents to use in training their children in the "Ology" of God and his word. If you've been searching for a new devotional for your family, this is one book you'll want to add to your library and read with your children multiple times as they grow.

Disclaimer: I received this book for free in exchange for my review. The thoughts and opinions are my own. This post may also contain Amazon Affiliate links.

Book Review and Giveaway: Get Your Story Straight

When my oldest was first born, I began searching for good books to expose him to God's story of redemption. During those little years, many of those books were simple Bible stories. Since then, as my children have grown, I've discovered many wonderful books that teach solid Biblical truth to children. And I have shared many of those books with you on my blog. 

My children are getting older. I have one preteen and I recently began the process of researching and collecting books written with youth in mind. When I was a teen, much that was written was moralistic and works focused. Such books described what a good Christian teen looks like but failed to show our need for the gospel where Christ's perfect life was given to us. The good news is that there are many Christ-centered books for teens these days that point them to their need for Christ. There are writers intent on making sure that our youth understand the gospel and how it applies to all areas of their life.

Today, I want to tell you about one of those books:

Kristen Hatton is the author of a new book for teens and young adults called, Get Your Story Straight. The life of a teenager is confusing. A teen is caught in a confusing place between childhood and adulthood. They long to understand who they are and their purpose in this world. Not only that but they are growing up in a "selfie" culture that teaches them that they are the center of the story. 

Get Your Story Straight is a devotional that takes teens through the story of redemption, showing them that the story is about Christ. He is the center of the story and of every story. The devotional is divided into three parts. Part 1 focuses on who the story is about. It begins with creation, goes through the fall, the promise of a Savior, and the promise fulfilled in Christ. Part 2 helps the reader see how their story is part of God's story. It shows them their identity in Christ and the work of the Spirit in their life. Part 3 focuses on how the story of Christ plays out in their life with others including the church, friendship, and service in the Kingdom. 

In going through this devotional, teens will learn about the problem of sin and their need for Christ, what he has done for them through the gospel, and what it means to be justified by faith. They will learn how the gospel transforms all of life, even the daily challenges of adolescence.

One such example comes from a study on Hebrews 12:

"Life is hard. We are weighed down by our sin, idols, circumstances, relationships, and trials and left here on earth to endure. Yet God, who providentially directs our paths, does not leave us alone. In fact, he sent his Son to endure life in this fallen world for us--to endure the rejection, hatred, mockery, and shame that followed him all the way to the cross. But he did it for the joy set before him, the joy of spending eternity in heaven next to his Father with YOU. Therefore, fix your eyes on him. He is the object of your faith, the perfecter of your faith, and the encourager for your faith" (p.216). 

What I love most about Get Your Story Straight is that it teaches teens how to study the Bible and gets them in the word each day. The book is divided into 52 chapters, one for each week of the year. At the beginning of the week, the teen reads through a passage of Scripture and answers questions about what they read. On the next day, they read Kristen's explanation of the passage and consider more questions. Day three, the reader is encouraged to read the passage of Scripture again and answer more questions. Day four does the same. And day five encourages the reader to journal and pray about what they learned that week.  

Kristen often points out repetitions of words and phrases in Scripture and encourages the reader underline them. She asks specific questions of the text that help the reader understand what they have read. She then helps the reader think through how the text applies to their own heart. In addition, Kristen has the reader memorize various passages throughout the book. 

As a mom of a preteen, I am thrilled about this book. Though my son is not yet a teen, I know he can already benefit from this study and plan to go through it with him. If you have teens yourself or will soon, you'll want to get this devotional for your children.

I have one copy of this book to giveaway. Enter below, US residents only please. Update: Bethany is the winner of this giveway. Congrats!

Disclaimer: I received a copy of this book for free in exchange for my review. The thoughts and opinions are my own. This post also contains Amazon Affiliate links.

Book Review and Giveaway: God's Gospel

Like any parent, you probably spend your day teaching and instructing your children in all manner of things. "Put your toys away when you are done with them." "Speak words that are kind and uplifting to others" "Don't walk through the house with dirty shoes" "Say 'Thank you' when someone gives you something." And of course, my oft repeated phrase, "We don't use our shirts as napkins."

If we fail to teach our children manners, they might struggle socially. If we fail to teach them to use a napkin, they will be messy and food stained. These are problematic issues to be sure but there is one thing we don't want to fail to teach our children: the gospel. 

As Jill Nelson writes in God's Gospel: "We have no greater responsibility and privilege than to pass the gospel on to our children. It is the only means of salvation. If our children are to inherit the kingdom, they must embrace the gospel. Therefore, we must take the greatest care to present the true essence of the gospel, making sure that we include the bad news as well as the good news" (p. 9).

God's Gospel is the latest release in the Making Him Known series of devotionals for children. Our family has every book in this series, so we obviously are huge fans! In God's Gospel, the focus is on explaining to children the bad news about their sin and the good news about what Jesus has done for them. The book begins at the beginning, the creation of the world. It goes through the story of redemption, including the fall, God's promise of a Savior, the giving of the law, the arrival of the promised Savior, and his life, death, and resurrection. 

The author goes through the teaching and life of Jesus, sharing specific events from the gospels and explaining what Jesus came to do for sinners. Interspersed throughout each devotional are theological truths such as God's holiness, how God's promises are fulfilled in Christ, the divinity of Christ, God's sovereignty over all things, and the specifics of justification.  God's Gospel presents the bad news about sin and the good news about salvation in a thoroughly Biblical yet uncomplicated way. It teaches rich theological truths in a way that children ages  five to ten can understand.  

Included at the end of each chapter are additional passages to read, discussion questions, and activities to help children apply what they have learned. As with all the books in this series, I highly recommend God's Gospel. There is no more important lesson or life truth we can teach our children than that they are sinners in need of a Savior. Don't you agree?

I have one copy of this book to give away. Enter below. US residents only, please. Update: Juli is the winner of the giveaway. Congrats!


Disclaimer: I received this book from the publisher for free in exchange for my review. The thoughts and opinions are my own. This post also contains Amazon Affiliate links.