While growing up in churches near my hometown of Columbiana, Ohio during my youth, many pastors and preachers would dispute how people in the church should pray. Is it alright to ask God for something, or are you to just go with the flow and thank God for whatever comes your way? Is there a right or wrong way to pray? What about if you prayed for something , and it didn’t come out the way you wanted? Was it a problem with you, or was it just that God wanted something better for you?
Throughout the years, the subject seemed to get more and more confusing, with different answers and writers weighing in on the topic. In her latest book Gangster Prayer: Relentlessly Pursuing God with Passion and Great Expectation (Worthy Publishing, 2019), Autumn Miles digs into several types, and results, of prayer.
The book starts out by Miles telling a story about her being under conviction after watching a television series about gangsters where she felt God informed her that criminals are more passionate in their law- breaking lives than she was in her prayer life. She then decides to dig into the several different categories of prayer, and how it has affected her life since that day. Miles defines prayer as talking with God and not at him, while claiming at the beginning that she does not claim to be a expert on the topic of prayer.
Throughout the short chapters Miles walks the reader through several different types of prayers such as: the Wrestling Prayer, Scared Prayer, Working Prayer, the Fighting Prayer, and the Thanksgiving prayer among others. Each chapter gives not only examples in the author’s life when she was struggling and experiencing each type of prayer, but also gives some Biblical examples as well to help detail the points being made.
Miles also discusses her thoughts on deeper parts of prayer, such as what does the Christian do if the prayer has not been answered (do they give up after a certain amount of time), what does it mean if God says “no” to the prayer request, how to make sure the person’s prayer is not just for selfish reasons, and more.
One of the great parts of this book, especially in the beginning, is how the writer does not tip-toe around the topic and her views on the subject. For instance, she bluntly states that in today’s society, the church seems to have their minds on other things than on prayer or creating valuable prayer sessions, and how many churches are more concerned with fancy stage shows for the praise and worship portions of the church, instead of the non-glitzy prayer meetings.
In another insightful section of the book, Miles brings the topic of prayer firstly to its basic core, and then goes into the deeper parts of the issues. For instance, she writes about who God is (and his characteristics), before getting into the touchier portions like “why doesn’t God answer me now?”
Gangster Prayer is an easy to read book that has short chapters (always a plus with me) , and is packaged so that a person can read one chapter a day as a devotional, or several chapters at a time. At the end of each section, several deeper questions are asked, so the reader can reflect on what was just discussed in order to apply it to their lives. The different categories of prayer was insightful and informative, which makes the readers think about how they approach prayer in general. Although most of the personal examples Miles uses in her writing are focused towards women (by talking about her love of getting her nails done), this book is not totally geared towards females, which seems to be her ministry target audience. I have never heard of Miles before this book (she has a podcast , radio show, and other writings in her portfolio), but I still took away quite a bit of information from this title. A few times throughout the book she states that she prayed for certain things, such as a bigger house, a book deal, and dealings with other businesses, which made me (and maybe some readers) wonder if praying for those things (which some label this as “prosperity preaching”, where some think God gives any worldly possessions because he wants people to be happy on earth) are in conflict with the Bible. Nonetheless, this only occurs once or twice in the book. I am not disputing that prayer should be an everyday part in a Christian’s life, but a few examples like these made me stop and think for a minute.
Overall the book was very informative, and insightful, without having a writer with a PHD in Christianity try to write over the reader’s head, which I have read in some books while reviewing in the past. I do think the book is geared towards Christian women, but it should not stop men from reading it (I can read many women writers in the Christian genre, in fact, my favorite writer in the genre is former recording artist Rebecca St. James, who geared her writings heavily towards women). The book may help some who are struggling with the prayer aspect in their lives get more on track in a non-judgmental way.
This review copy was sent courtesy of Hachette Book Group and Worthy Publishing.
Gangster Prayer: Relentlessly Pursuing God with Passion and Great Expectation by Autumn Miles (Worthy Publishing, 2019) ISBN: 978-1-6839-7312-6 (trade paperback), 978-1-5460-1522-2 (ebook), 978-1-5491-5089-0 (audiobook download) 978-1-5491-8123-8 (audiobook CD) can be found at :
For information about the author, go to: ww.autumnmiles.com
Geared Towards: 12 and Up
For Fans Of: Christian Living, Women’s Studies, Prayer