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Religion

Review: Big Stevens Creek Pastor Tommy Meador's New Book on Prayer

By Phillip Howle
web posted October 16, 2013

RELIGION – One of the greatest blessings in my life is to have friends. Not the 835 Facebook friends, although that is not to say that the encouragement that I receive and the encouragement I try to give through social media is not real. It is just that I have a handful of people who I talk to regularly and I care for deeply and visa versa.  Many people don’t have this, especially many pastors.
 
I read a book by John Ortberg a while back called “Everyone seems normal till you get to know them.”  In it he references a great body of current research on loneliness in society and its effects. One of the primary books he quotes is Bowling Alone by Robert Putnam. There is an epidemic of loneliness in our culture. Here are some summaries from this research.

People who are not in a group are twice as likely to die in the next year as those who are in a group. Now there is a selling point for your small group: join our group and cut your chances of dying in half! People who have strong social connections but poor health habits (eating, exercise, etc.) are just as healthy as those with weak social connection and good health habits. As Ortberg says it, "Better to eat Twinkies with friends than broccoli alone."
 
There was a gradual rise of participation in Bowling leagues, PTAs, and church attendance over the first two thirds of the last century. Then, mysteriously and more or less simultaneously, we stopped doing all those things less often. The result is we don't have friends any more. We just watch Friends on TV. One study injected 270 people with a virus that causes the common cold. Those with strong social connections did not get as sick, did not stay sick as long, and produced less mucus than the less connected group. Ortberg writes that "This just proves that unfriendly people really are snottier than the rest of us."

I am lucky to have a many good friends. I like to joke and say that biggest friend is my smallest buddy. His name is Tommy Meador, and he is Pastor at Big Stevens Creek. He is not the largest framed fellow (he would add a joke about my gut here) but he loves Jesus and is always there for me.

For me, Tommy has personified a good friend from the book of Proverbs. Proverbs 17:17 says that “A friend loves at all times, and a brother is born for adversity." Being a friend is a choice, and true friendship is when we love that friend all the time, not just when it is convenient or easy for us. Proverbs 27:6 tells us that "Wounds from a friend can be trusted, but an enemy multiplies kisses." —- One of the greatest things about true Biblical friendship is knowing that when a friend says something to you about an area in which you need to grow, you know their intent is from love. If they didn't love you and value you, they wouldn't risk telling you something you didn't want to hear!

This leads to the last verse "As iron sharpens iron, so one man sharpens another." —Proverbs 27:17 - Friendship is built on mutual trust and respect, and you should be building each other up, not falsely or with empty words, but for the purpose of helping each other grow.

Tommy helps me in all of these areas and many others. Tommy is also a very smart guy (he has earned a PhD. from New Orleans Seminary) and is full of wisdom far beyond his years or small size. He has written a new book on the Lord’s Prayer. It is titled The Disciple's Prayer: Learning to Pray from Jesus by Tommy Meador. (It is available in paperback and for the kindle). It is a great read, and very insightful about the prayer that Jesus taught His followers to pray. I taught the Lord’s Prayer in my column a while back and read numerous books on the subject and this one is the best by far.
 
I know people don’t read books much anymore and frankly many books on prayer and Jesus can put one to sleep! But this is not one of them. The chapters are short enough to keep the reader from losing attention and filled with insight, illustration, and applications. It would make a great book for a small group study or for personal reading.

One reviewer on Amazon.com wrote “CLEAR! CLEAR! Like a surgeon hopped up on 5 hour energy drinks, Dr. Meador put the defibrillators to my prayer life with his newest book, The Disciples Prayer: Learning to Pray from Jesus. Written in an easy to understand manner, the fair-haired parson delivered what amounted to a 5 mL dose of Epinephrine injected straight to the heart. Rock solid theology, with more than enough grace to cushion the landing, this book promises to surgically improve the way you communicate with God. Don't continue to pray lackadaisical prayers, read the pint sized padre's book and find the cure for what ails you!”

I am going to post my formal review of the book. I recommend you skip my review and just go to Amazon.com and buy the book. All the proceeds from the book go to the various mission projects and mission trips that Big Stevens Creek Baptist Church is involved in. I am proud of my friend’s book and proud to have a good friend who daily blesses and encourages my life and goes to the Lord on my behalf. You can find out more about Tommy and his church Big Stevens Creek along with links to amazon.com at http://www.bigstevenscreek.com/?page_id=682 . He and his family evidently enjoy hanging out on train tracks randomly as well.

There is nothing more natural than talking to someone, especially someone who you love and trust. But when it comes to talking to the Creator God of the universe things get difficult for many Christians. Pastor Tommy Meador helps solve this problem by taking readers back to the Model Prayer that was given to us by Jesus.

This book excels in what it does not do, and that is making the Lord's Prayer into some complicated and highly structured system of prayer. It also does not take away from the prayer by over analyzing every detail and missing the forest for the trees. It also does not isolate the prayer from community as the book's design and layout (with reflective questions and suggestions for prayer interspersed in the text) begs to be studied along with others. It also does not neglect the totality of Scripture. The redemptive work of Jesus and His prayers are shown through the entirety of Scripture. It further does not neglect the Trinity. Prayer is not just something we drag ourselves to do, but we are enabled to do by the Spirit, who was sent by Jesus by virtue of his life, death, and resurrection, to provide access for us to the Father.

Chapter 1: Prayer is powerful, prayer is necessary, and prayer is transformative. This chapter highlights basic truths about prayer and shows the power of those who prayed in light of this from Scripture.

Chapter 2: It deals with God as father and the power of what that means. He shows how we are God's through adoption and unpacks how an understanding of this reality will greatly affect our view of God and our connection to Him.

Chapter 3: Unpacks what "hallowing" the name of the Lord means. In doing this he takes readers back to the Burning Bush in Exodus 3 and God's self-revelation of himself to Moses at "I AM." The challenge is not to live making your name great, but the LORD's name great.

Chapter 4: Explains and shows what the kingship of God means in the reader's life. This wonderful kingdom in contrasted with the kingdom of the world and Satan. The challenge is will we seek and submit to the Gracious and Powerful King?  Also will we do our part to pray for the spreading of this kingdom throughout the world?

Chapter 5: Addresses in Meador's words what he considers the most "dangerous petition to pray to God if you love your own comforts more than you love God. Praying this petition gives God permission to do whatever He desires in your life without your objections." He highlights Jesus in the Garden as the ultimate example of this petition. This petition is the only way a person can ever truly know they are God's will.

Chapter 6: In looking at praying for "daily bread" Meador notes that this is the first petition that focuses on a need of our own. After the first half of the prayers Godward focus, our needs are then shown in submission to God and His greater plans and purposes. He further shows how enjoying God through prayer will destroy our living in personal self-sufficiency and continual worry by abolishing our selfishness.

Chapter 7: This chapter looks at forgiveness. He poses an interesting question, why since forgiveness is a essential mater is left to later in the prayer? Meador answers with "He places seeking forgiveness later in the Disciple's Prayer because confession flows out of adoration and worship. As we hallow God's name, seek His kingdom and perfect will, and throw ourselves on Him in complete dependency, we are humbled. We see God for who He is, and we see how sinful we are. A right view of God will always give us a right view of our own sin. The more we see God high and exalted, the more we will recognize the horror of our own sin, and the more we will cry out to God in confession and repentance." This is the basis our own personal seeking of forgiveness and our catalyst for extending forgiveness to others.

Chapter 8: The focus on the Lord's Protection of His children. The benefit of testing and trails in the life of the Christian is looked at through the lens of Abraham and God's command to sacrifice his son Isaac. Prayer is a chief means to overcoming the temptations each person faces. Prayer is also essential as Believer's live their lives in a hostile world facing an enemy in Satan. But, in both these cases above the power of the believer's prayer is shown to come though the finished work of Christ on the cross.

Chapter 9: This concluding chapter brings everything together. It highlights discipline and routine as means to embedding the Lord's Prayer into the life of the believer. He teaches how the Lord's Prayer (Model Prayer) can be used as tool by which to organize our own personal prayers by. But, the focus on prayer as means to a relationship to God is always the trust, never simple ritual. Meador closes the book with "The ultimate goal of prayer is always life change. We often approach prayer in an attempt to change God's mind and bend Him to our will, but God invites us to communicate with Him so He might change us."

This books strength lies in its simplicity. The book is concise and distilled in its power. It is accessible to all readers and will challenge new believers and seasoned saints alike. It would work great both as small group study or personal devotion.

Pastor Phillip



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