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“Quiet Talks on Prayer” Book Critical Essay


Introduction

Religious principles have always dwelled on the foundations of continuous praying as means of communicating with God. Whereas people congregate in the worshiping places to pray, the reality about the prayer as a means of communication between the humans and God has remained unrevealed.

Samuel Dickey Gordon is one of the renowned spiritual writers who managed to write over 25 devotional books, most of which have discussed the issues surrounding prayers. His book, Quiet Talks on Prayer ’, has been a very helpful devotional material to those believers who often seek to understand the meaning of a prayer and how it connects people or the believers with God.

However, Quiet Talks on Prayer is an exceptional book that has often attracted criticisms and accolades on the manner in which it discusses prayer and its connection with God. This essay seeks to present a critique of the Gordon’s book, ‘Quiet Talks on Prayer’, to discuss the concepts of quiet talks and prayer.

The Power of the Prayer

Gordon was very practical when he thought the believers about the power of the prayer. Just as a prayer, biblically remains as an important element of religions, believers have always been optimistic that prayer is the central channel of communication with God. Gordon in his book, Quiet Talks on Prayer, makes believers adhere to the principles of continuous praying, as means of communicating with God.1

According to Gordon, a prayer is a gateway to that puts a man into a nonstop lively communication with his creator, God.2 Such connotations make a prayer a powerful religious element just as the Bible considers praying as a vital God-human communication process.

Gordon reveals to Christians how prayers have been useful in dealing with global problems such as the catastrophic events that marred China and India.3 In the bible and other religious scriptures, prayer intersession is crucial as the Holy Scriptures advice people to pray for each other.

In the book, the aspect of prayer intersession appears in the sense that people globally prayed for God’s mercies upon India and China, and changes in the climate patterns eventually appeared.4 What makes readers wonder about the prayer teachings of Gordon in the book, Quiet Talks on Prayer, is the manner in which the author struggles to create a connection between a prayer and the human virtues or ethics.

Prayer is not an ethical virtue, but rather a religious practice that acts as a channel of communication between God and the human beings. Although his authorship skills and philosophies help him to create an affiliation between a prayer and ethical values that make the believers understand the essence of prayers, his main comparisons are wrong.

Gordon claims that praying is the greatest favor and honor that a man can offer to God, and believers must be righteous in his intentions and life.5 Such a connotation is wrong because biblically, no one is righteous.

Prayer and Spirit Conflict

Gordon theologically supports the idea of praying as a spiritual element that not only connects human beings to God, but also helps in making decisions in a spiritual conflict. Gordon explains to the believers the association between praying and spiritual conflict.6 Gordon combines his philosophies of prayer with the facts about the power of the Holy Spirit and its importance in the practice of praying.

Biblically in John 14:12-17, Gordon is right because it is through the Holy Spirit, that human beings are able to have the power and motivation to pray. The Holy Spirit was the biggest promise that Jesus gave to his disciples when he was about to die, as a way of providing an assistant in the process of praying.

According to Gordon, the Holy Spirit is the inlet of power that creates a channel of communication with God during a praying session. Gordon teaches believers that without the Holy Spirit, praying is difficult.

What disturbs the readers most in the idea of the association between the Holy Spirit and the prayer is the manner in which Gordon describes the battle between the spirits during the praying period. Gordon believes that human beings will prove close to God during praying only when they allow the Holy Spirit to work within themselves.

However, the manner in which Gordon explains the battlefield in prayer is never straightforward or easy to explain or draw inferences from the Holy Scriptures.7 Gordon gives the example of the manner in which human beings, especially the clergy, remains influenced by the modern worshiping where wealth and affluence are influencing the worshiping and praying behaviors.8

The idea of explaining the battlefield of spirits using the example of men and failing to mention satanic influence and the major aspects that define satanic influence makes the explanations of Gordon seem vague.9 Rather than establishing strong facts from the bible, Gordon used several misinterpretations.

The Spirit and the Body

A common religious teaching that believers often receive from their leaders is the teaching about the separation between the spiritual side and the physical side of human beings, which are concepts that exist in the biblical teachings about trinity. In his book, Quiet Talks on Prayer, 10 Gordon delves into teaching the believers about the two sides of human beings.11

Gordon claims that a complete Christian life comprises of two religiously identified sides namely the outer physical side and the inner spiritual or the soul side. The inner side is the spiritual side of the believers, while the outer side is the physical appearance of the believers.

Just as the biblical teachings explain, human beings exist in spiritual form and in physical form, although the physical form continues to be the foremost desire to the humans. Just as the bible presumes, Gordon also explains that the outer side always seems greater to many believers than the inner side.

Gordon again is quick to dismiss some important facts about the human trinity, where three things are essential to understand how the complete body of a believer works. Gordon only mentions the inner part, which he refers to as the spirit or the soul, and the inner part, which he refers to as the physical body.

He exempts the idea of the presence of the mind, unlike what the bible states in First Corinthians 14:15, human beings shall consider praying with their spirit and with their mind also, they will sing with their spirit and they will sing with their minds as well. This means that Gordon was scripturally wrong to dismiss the third form of a complete Christian or a believer.

Biblically, First Corinthians 14:15 teaches Christians that when they only use their mere tongues to pray and their spirits to pray, without having the completeness of the trinity concept where the mind plays a role, their faith in their prayers shall remain weak.

The True Meaning of a Prayer

To expound on the literal meaning of a prayer, Gordon was keen about the several issues that make a prayer to have its original meaning. Christians have the tendency of suspecting a prayer because the real connection between their prayers and God is normally difficult to tell given the three responses that God normally gives to the believers.12

The bible and the Christian teachings indicate that God has three main responses towards any prayer, Yes, Wait, or No. In Second Corinthians 12: 7-10, God answers the prayers of the believers in three main ways, although it normally takes some spiritual nourishment for one to understand whether a prayer received an answer or not.

Gordon brought a unique way that Christians can understand the traits of a true prayer. According to Gordon, a prayer has special spiritual qualities that cannot face the limitations of space or material obstacles of any nature.13 A prayer is therefore a spiritual communication with the Almighty God where three responses exist.

The most complex situation that makes believers oblivious about the definitions and perceptions of Gordon concerning prayer is the manner in which Gordon describes several dynamics of prayer that do not necessarily educate the Christians about faithful praying.14

Gordon uses some short philosophical words to express the characteristics of a prayer, but fails to consider what matters most to the believers who may desire to understand the best way that God answers their prayers.15 Gordon meanders around his personal perceptions about a prayer and forgets to consider the favorite attributes of a prayer that makes Christians believe in praying.

Although his writings persistently advocate for being prayerful rather than just knowing a prayer, the true meaning and understanding of his prayer concept escapes within his personal convictions that dominate the entire book.16 Such complexities in his language and literary techniques make the central themes of the book lose their essential meanings.

Modern Revelations of God’s Presence

A unique feature that appears in the book, Quiet Talks on Prayer, is the manner in which God reveals himself to the believers of the modern world. While playing around with the psychology of the readers, Gordon presents real scenarios where prayers have been in need and where they have sometimes worked.17

Since the catastrophic situations of India and China are common among the ordinary people, and the revelations of God have at least been eminent in their existence, Gordon uses the two nations to explain how God communicates his anger and his amusement to his modern people. When true believers understand the situations that have marred India and China, the need to uphold the demands for intercessional praying appear to the true Christians.18 The manner in which Gordon describes the humorous situations of the two nations brings up the need for the believers to embrace faithful praying. Such occasions explain the need for intercessional praying among the believers.

A continued problem in the book, Quiet Talks on Prayer is the manner in which Gordon continuously misuses the examples of the countries above.19 The Bible and the Holy Scriptures describe God as, a God of justice, a God of kindness and a God who is omnipotent, omniscient, and omnipresent.

In Second Thessalonians, chapter 1 verse six, God presents himself as the true judge who will preside over major cases of human afflictions on the earth. In Psalms 25:8-14, the Bible says that God is always fair and just, he often corrects the misled and directs them to the right direction.

Gordon in his book, Quiet Talks on Prayer, unjustly portrays the Chinese and the Indians as perennial sinners who do not deserve any communication with God.20 His idea of overusing China and India as collective examples of the nations where God has established his presence is misleading since God only punishes individuals independently or guides them in the righteous manner.21

Conclusion

Samuel Dickey Gordon is perhaps among the most remembered devotional authors whose teachings have touched the believers in different ways. Whereas a simple perusing might lead the readers into understanding Gordon shallowly on the idea of a prayer, a deeper assessment of his book, Quiet Talks on Prayer, can help readers understand the major issues that are acceptable and those that are disputable.

From an analytical perspective, Gordon is right to explain that prayer is the connecting aspect between God and his faithful believers. Prayer is indeed a practice that is a spiritual process where material differences and status do not matter before the eyes of the Almighty God.

Gordon is also right to explain that in a prayer, there are satanic spirits, personal spirits, and the Holy Spirit, which make up the components that determine a faithful prayer. However, Gordon misses the biblical idea of the trinity, fails to understand that God is not vengeful.

Bibliography

Gordon, Samuel. Quiet Talks on Prayer. New York: Cosimo publishers, 2005.

Footnotes

1 Samuel Gordon, Quiet Talks on Prayer (New York: Cosimo publishers, 2005), 7.

2 Samuel Gordon, Quiet Talks on Prayer (New York: Cosimo publishers, 2005), 9.

3 Samuel Gordon, Quiet Talks on Prayer (New York: Cosimo publishers, 2005), 17.

4 Samuel Gordon, Quiet Talks on Prayer (New York: Cosimo publishers, 2005), 21.

5 Samuel Gordon, Quiet Talks on Prayer (New York: Cosimo publishers, 2005), 24.

6 Samuel Gordon, Quiet Talks on Prayer (New York: Cosimo publishers, 2005), 25.

7 Samuel Gordon, Quiet Talks on Prayer (New York: Cosimo publishers, 2005), 28.

8 Samuel Gordon, Quiet Talks on Prayer (New York: Cosimo publishers, 2005), 33.

9 Samuel Gordon, Quiet Talks on Prayer (New York: Cosimo publishers, 2005), 30.

10 Samuel Gordon, Quiet Talks on Prayer (New York: Cosimo publishers, 2005), 29.

11 Samuel Gordon, Quiet Talks on Prayer (New York: Cosimo publishers, 2005), 36.

12 Samuel Gordon, Quiet Talks on Prayer (New York: Cosimo publishers, 2005), 41.

13 Samuel Gordon, Quiet Talks on Prayer (New York: Cosimo publishers, 2005), 39.

14 Samuel Gordon, Quiet Talks on Prayer (New York: Cosimo publishers, 2005), 41.

15 Samuel Gordon, Quiet Talks on Prayer (New York: Cosimo publishers, 2005), 43.

16 Samuel Gordon, Quiet Talks on Prayer (New York: Cosimo publishers, 2005), 28-36.

17 Samuel Gordon, Quiet Talks on Prayer (New York: Cosimo publishers, 2005), 41.

18 Samuel Gordon, Quiet Talks on Prayer (New York: Cosimo publishers, 2005), 49.

19 Samuel Gordon, Quiet Talks on Prayer (New York: Cosimo publishers, 2005), 30.

20 Samuel Gordon, Quiet Talks on Prayer (New York: Cosimo publishers, 2005), 42.

21 Samuel Gordon, Quiet Talks on Prayer (New York: Cosimo publishers, 2005), 39.

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IvyPanda. ""Quiet Talks on Prayer" Book." January 22, 2020. https://ivypanda.com/essays/quiet-talks-on-prayer-book/.

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IvyPanda. 2020. ""Quiet Talks on Prayer" Book." January 22, 2020. https://ivypanda.com/essays/quiet-talks-on-prayer-book/.

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