Reviewed by: Rebecca Sodergren
I’m Praying for You: Forty Days of Praying the Bible for Someone Who Is Suffering, by Nancy Guthrie. 10Publishing, 2021. Paperback, 176 pages, $9.59. Reviewed by OP member Rebecca Sodergren.
“I’m praying for you.” We say these words all the time, but what do we mean when we say them? Do we pray merely for our friend’s physical situation, or for God generically to “be with” them? Do we have every intention of praying but then forget to do it? Do we have no idea how to really pray for someone in deep need?
Nancy Guthrie addresses the pitfalls we typically face when we promise to pray for struggling friends.
I’m Praying for You is a book of forty brief devotionals with accompanying prayers. Each day’s reading is based on a Scripture passage that highlights a need that a hurting friend may have. For example: “I’m praying that the work of God will be displayed in your life” (John 9:3) or “I’m praying that you will know God’s presence with you in the darkness” (Psalm 88:1–4). The book gives words to the things we want for our friends but struggle to express when we witness intense suffering.
Christian readers will recognize the significance of the number of days Guthrie has chosen for this prayer journey: forty days of rain for Noah, forty years in the wilderness for Israel. Scripture uses the number forty to represent a time of trial or testing. We help to carry a friend’s burden when we promise to pray for them for forty days.
Each devotional includes a QR code that you can scan and then text a brief message to your friend, letting him or her know which passage you’re praying that day. This is a handy tool. It helps you show your friend that you’re praying, and it has the potential to widen your friend’s view of God’s purposes in suffering. My one caveat is that I’d suggest employing wisdom before you text. You’ll know whether your friend is ready to hear what you’re praying. For instance, “I’m praying that you will consider this trial as an opportunity for joy” could stick in your friend’s craw. It might be better to pray that prayer to God but save communicating it to your friend until he or she is beginning to see God’s wider purposes in the situation.
I’m sure Guthrie herself recognizes this balance. She has lost two children to a genetic disorder, and one of her other books is called What Grieving People Wish You Knew About What Really Helps (and What Hurts). Her experience helps her to understand what people truly need, how God shapes us through hardship, and how he uses our prayers.
As I read this book, I found a double benefit. It helped me to pray purposefully for a friend, but it also helped me to see my own struggles in the light of God’s compassionate, fatherly sovereignty. This is a deceptively simple book that can have a profound impact on our life of faith.
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