PUBLICATION DATE: APRIL 1, 2012
was excited to have the opportunity to review this book. I have taught classes that addressed much of the initial material at my church, in retreat formats, and for a non-profit ministry. Many of the participants that I worked with had questions regarding prayer. This book would have been a good resource.
Before I even opened the book, I was impressed that the foreword was written by John Stott. I am familiar his writing and respect him. His description of what this book offered was spot on and I appreciated his introduction of the author to the reader. Dr. Martinez’s credentials and experience make him a knowledgeable source, but also one who is able to communicate his concepts with clarity and precision.
This book is an update of an edition that was published in 2001. I was unable to secure that copy for comparison, but the author does include his original introduction and then another for the revised edition. Much of the revision that is presented is in direct response to feedback that the author received after the original publication.
The book is divided into two sections. The first addresses the psychology of prayer, and the second the apologetics. I found Dr. Martinez’s presentation of the impact of personality and temperament on the individual’s prayer life to be stated in a very understandable manner. It is not an overly “scholarly” presentation, but it is not “dumbed down” either. He uses illustrations that are clear and easily relatable. Dr. Martinez does a good job at presenting the material in a manner that would be acceptable to people who might otherwise be turned off by “psychobabble.”
Once he has defined the relation of prayer to temperament, he then addresses how people can overcome emotional problems associated with prayer and develop the love relationship necessary for a meaningful prayer life. I felt that this material would be especially useful to chaplains in hospital/hospice settings. He concludes the first section then by answering specific questions that were raised when he taught this material. The questions seemed to be reflective of more general questions regarding this topic which would increase its appeal and application across cultures.
The second section addresses the apologetics of prayer. This is where the book becomes very pragmatic. I do not consider myself a student of apologetics, so I was not sure prior to reading this part, whether I would get much out of it. I found myself appreciating the author’s careful addressing of the arguments against the need and importance of prayer. He finishes the book by also comparing Christian prayer to other spiritual traditions.
This book is only 169 pages, but it is packed full of useful information. Some familiarity with Jung and MBTI would make the initial discussion of temperament and personality more understandable, but I think that it is clear enough in its explanations for any lay person to follow. Our world is becoming more secularized, and the ability to defend our faith and practices intelligently, as opposed to emotionally and often irrationally, becomes increasingly necessary. This book is a good tool for just that kind of thing.
I would recommend this book for pastors, chaplains, and those interested in deepening their prayer life as individuals. It is also valuable as a tool to address defending faith and practice of prayer apologetically.