Thinking Out Loud

September 8, 2008

Taking a Closer Look at Prayer with Philip Yancey

Filed under: Christianity, Church — Tags: , , , — paulthinkingoutloud @ 11:20 am

Thirteen years ago, when we changed from being a ‘behind the scenes’ promoter of Christian books and music, to being a front line retailer with our own stores, our first bona fide bestseller was the book The Jesus I Never Knew by Philip Yancey.   Although I was familiar with his writing from Campus Life magazine and the NIV Student Bible, this was the first book by him I had ever read, and with my recommendation, the book remained our number one bestseller for more than two years.   I still have the ISBN memorized!

So when the curriculum DVD for that book was released, I was a little disappointed.   It was Philip, who is very softspoken, sitting in a dark studio, speaking in a low tones.   The clips were short, too; as this kind of product is intended to be led by a small group chairperson, with the DVD serving as a supplement.   Later on, Zondervan would produce some excellent DVD material for author John Ortberg (who is now linked on our blogroll on the right side of your screen under ‘sermons’) which were filmed on location.  I made a mental note that the quality of these things was improving.

This weekend I watched all of the DVD material that goes with Philip’s book, Prayer: Does It Make Any Difference? There are six weeks in the DVD study, with each one having at least three film clips, all of which were filmed in various parts of the Colorado Rocky Mountains.   The scenery certainly draws you in to the discussion of the topic, and Philip seems much more relaxed in front of the camera, and much more himself in the context of his favorite hobby, mountain climbing.  (Do you have an altimeter on your wristwatch?)  If you’re going to use visual media, it’s important that it look good, and this does.

I felt that the last session sometimes seemed to start to stray a little from the core discussion; but otherwise, this is an excellent lead-in to some good discussion; and since all Christians (and not a few non-Christians) pray at various times and in various ways, this is certainly going to bring out a lot of comments from your small group; many of which will be subjective and some more objective.   Frankly, I would love to have some context to share this series with a group of people.   (The church I attend has a policy that all small groups cover the same material; so there is no room for electives.)  I think it would be an interesting process to explore something so basic to our Christian lives, yet reflects so differently in each of us, including the complexity of dealing with unanswered prayer, which is discussed in the fourth session.

You don’t need a DVD player in the home to run a good small group, but good resources like this are available, and are increasingly being released at lower cost.*  Conversely, you don’t need to have read the book to use the DVD and the participant’s guide, but the book is probably one of the best and most thorough treatments on this subject.   With small group season about to kick off; I give the book and DVD a five star rating.

~Paul Wilkinson

* Prayer DVD U.S. SRP is only $24.99   Each session begins with someone placing an envelope into a mail box, but when it comes to the one called “prayer problems” that deals with unanswered prayer, the letter becomes a thick package!   Ain’t that the truth.


  1. “Do *you* have an altimeter on your wristwatch?”

    Yes, I do. :o)

    Comment by Jim — September 8, 2008 @ 4:45 pm

  2. Okay, I phrased that wrong. Philip probably ONLY has an altimeter; or a better question for him would be, “Do you have a wristwatch on your altimeter?”

    Comment by Paul — September 8, 2008 @ 6:45 pm

  3. Thanks for the review on the book and the DVD. From experience, I join you with the five star rating on the book. Will keep my eyes open for an opportunity to experience the DVD in a small group setting. Great blog!

    Comment by lsbmusings — September 18, 2008 @ 9:39 am

  4. […] My review of the Prayer DVD Leave a Comment […]

    Pingback by Prayer: Part of Our Common, Shared Experience « Christianity 201 — April 25, 2010 @ 6:30 pm

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