Book Review of “Quiet Talks”

Introduction

Gordon’s work “Quiet Talks” is a book devoted to the subject of prayer. The basic outline of the book is devoted to four basic principles related to prayer, and those principles are the purpose of prayer,[1] hindrances in praying,[2] methods for praying,[3] and methods that Jesus employed in regard to prayer.[4] Gordon’s work acts as a manual for prayer in order that the person praying may have an understanding necessary to accommodate effective and powerful prayer techniques and a clear vision for growing in prayer.

Book Summery

For Gordon, “An open life, an open hand, open upward, is the pipeline of communication between the heart of God and this poor befooled old world.”[5] The idea thus is that prayer is what allows God the option[6] of entering into a lost world that is so lost that Gordon describes it as a prodigal.[7] Gordon’s view is that through the power of prayer, Christ can be in China just as powerfully as being in bodily form, and in this way the victory can be won little by little through the conquest that occurs as a result of prayer such that service could be done afterword to take the field after the victory has been won.[8] The idea thus is that prayer gives God the ability to enter into a situation, fight the war, and God’s servant (the person doing the praying) is the guy that puts up the victory flag after God has done the hard work.

Gordon explains his view on how prayer works as being like a switchboard in a power plant, and in this analogy he presents the idea that just as a person can flip a switch at a power plant and have a part of a city turn on or off so too a person can pray and have consequences happen immediately in a faraway place.[9] The idea is that prayer decides the control of the earth, and in Gordon’s view Christ as rightful prince of the world thus uses persuasion in order to gain what is otherwise rightfully[10] instead of taking it by force. Gordon’s view thus is that Satan is a spirit being without a body and that he can only do those things that he plans to accomplish through entering others, and in this way Satan travels very quickly through the spirit world in order to do his will.[11] Overall, the idea is that through being spirit beings ourselves[12] we can project our spirit (or real personality) to what is of concern, do business with other spirit beings, and influence those other spirit beings[13] such that if people could see into the spirit world, then they would see a continual conflict between spirits such that those that are aligned to Christ and pray can win the victory through prayer.[14]

Gordon makes his view clear when he says that, “Prayer from God’s side is communication between Himself and His allies in the enemy’s country.”[15] The idea thus is that prayer is the term used for all intercourse with God, and this thus includes communion with God, petition for one’s self, and intercession for others.[16] Gordon even brings increased satisfaction with his analogy by saying, “Intercession is the climax of prayer.”[17] Thus for Gordon prayer delivers what is otherwise unobtainable,[18] and in light of Gordon’s work the term, “rapture” would have a pivotaly unthinkable meaning in terms of prayer.

The principles of prayer that Gordon describes as underlying all prayer are those of the earth belonging to the Lord, God having given dominion of the earth to man, man having transferred that dominion to Satan, God having utilized Christ (perfect man) to transfer dominion back to man, and Christ and Satan having fought such that Christ won and such that Satan is not willing to give up what Christ has already won unless he must.[19] Gordon then goes on to say both that, “Prayer does not influence God” and that, “Prayer surely does influence God.”[20] The idea thus is that God purposed to do everything that is right that people pray for, and for Gordon, “The fact that prayer does not make any change in God’s thought or purpose, reveals His marvelous love in a very tender way.”[21] Overall, Gordon thus links, “Thy will be done,” and “Deliver us from the evil one,” as being connected to one another.[22]

Gordon also deals with the question of why prayers are not answered, and he reasons that three things exist that break communion between God and his human partner[23] as these are sin,[24] asking God for things for one’s own pleasures,[25] and an unforgiving spirit.[26] Gordon then reasons that like in the example of Moses, “The prayer of a man was denied that a nation might be taught obedience.”[27] He also reasons however that in some cases prayer is not answered in order that more might be given than what is prayed for.[28] Overall, Gordon also argues that Satan himself has the power to hold back prayer,[29] and that thus, “praying is fighting.”[30]

Gordon next exemplifies the question of how to pray, and he states that in order for any business to be transacted what first must exist is the relationship that establishes things.[31] He also makes several important statements about prayer, and these are that people should join together with others in agreement to pray, that they should believe that God will do what they ask for, that they should ask in Jesus name, and that they should abide in Christ.[32] Gordon also points out that a wise ambassador will further the purpose of his government,[33] and in this way he makes a clear purpose for prayer among those that find that they are indeed apostles. Overall, Gordon advises to make God’s purpose our prayer,[34] and to let the spirit teach us how to pray.[35]

Gordon advises that people should listen while praying,[36] and the inner ear that hears God’s voice should be trained through the word of God[37] as this allows for the ability to hear in prayer what God is saying. Gordon points out that we should recognize God’s character in order to recognize his will when we pray,[38] and in this regard what the scripture teaches is that God’s character is such that he is father, mother, friend, husband, and lover.[39] The fact of the matter is that we should become skilled in knowing God’s will,[40] and we should thus pray in confidence for the conversion of loved ones.[41] In this spirit Gordon gives a sketch of the prayer life of Jesus Christ as he mentions the times that Jesus Christ prayed over the record of the gospel, and thus for an entire fifteen pages (155-170) Gordon goes into depth over the fifteen notable times that scripture shows that Jesus prayed.[42]

Book Critique and Evaluation

Gordon does a rather complete job of generating a manual for prayer, and in this way he covers many bases in order to allow the general public an ability to have a greater appreciation and practice of prayer. Gordon’s writing style is such that he uses a lot of figurative statements and long or contemplative analogies to give depth to the subject of prayer, and in this way for example he writes that, “Begrudged money, stained money, soils the treasury.”[43] The style that Gordon thus uses to deliverer his message on prayer over the course of the book is a style that takes, “deep thinking” and meditation instead of superficial investigation over the content of the text.

The point is that for Gordon prayer is not exactly a simple subject, and the fact of the matter is that Gordon’s book goes into an extreme depth in describing what goes wrong, how people should relate to God, and how to pray better. The great value of the text is that it utilizes the method of mediation upon the scripture as the bases for generating a elaborate set of models in order to put them all into a system in order that Gordon was able to make a book that also utilized examples from common life to exemplify his point. The point is that Gordon’s work really does have much of the same structure and methods of a New Testament epistle written by Paul the apostle of Christ.

On a theological point however one must be careful or aware of some of the positions that Gordon holds concerning man’s fundamental relationship to God. In Gordon’s book he mentions that a battle exists between thousands of spiritual beings,[44] and he relies greatly upon the concept of personal choice of man to dictate future action that God has indeed purposed through foreknowledge. The point to make is that he does not hold to the view that God has determined our choices without giving us options, and in this way he would not be in favor of grace that cannot be resisted. One could argue against Gordon’s position that the revelation of Jesus Christ when Paul was on the road to Damascus (Acts 26:12-18) actually shows that grace is not able to be resisted because Paul was on the road to kill Christians and Christ appeared in some way and not only showed him the right way but also commissioned him at the very same time to go to the Jews and to turn them from the power of Satan instead to the power of God. The idea is that God can and will break through even the most rebellious people and cause them freedom and to understand the truth and to do even the greatest acts of Christian service. Despite what Gordon might think, a person need not pray to God for the conversion of people in order that they may be persuaded to the truth, but instead God can outright convert them as a result of sacrifice through prayer such as in the example of Paul showing approval as Steven was being stoned while Steven prayed while Paul was seeing it all happen.

Personal Application

The best personal application of the text is to pray more often and to pray in terms of the way that Jesus Christ himself prayed. As for this author, before going to seminary school, prayer was not a very large part of life, but now prayer has become one of the focal points of life. For this author prayer had been a frightening thing because God would answer prayers of youth with very direct and miraculous curses, but what is notable is that this author did not believe in the divinity of Christ in youth. Instead of praying this author had in the past devoted intense amounts of time to study of the scripture in order to know and understand God’s will. Overall, the fact that this author was extremely short sighted means that much application needs to occur in regard to prayer on a daily bases because ministry depends almost entirely upon prayer.

The fact that the text builds up to the prayer life of Jesus is very insightful because it acts as like the crown of the text, and although this author (I) have not undertaken a investigation of it, the best course of action is for this author to carefully mediate over the prayer life of Jesus and over the text over a long period of time without having any prior assumptions in order to clearly see what exactly is occurring and how this author can model prayer life after that of Jesus Christ. Overall, the fact that Jesus Christ was indeed God in the flesh has much to do with how his prayer life would be different from ours, so this author would need to be careful when investigation the fifteen points that the New Testament gives in regard to the prayer life of Jesus Christ.

Application of the text should indeed take the form of increased prayer and appreciation for what God has done and for what God is doing. Perhaps the reason for bad prayer results in the past has much to do with wrong views of God combined with wrong motivations for prayer. Treating God as a, “wishing well” would indeed really offend God, as this author made the mistake of doing in youth and so at this time, this author believes that he has the spiritual maturity to adequately pray and to pray earnestly without the fear of God’s curses. Overall, the best application of the text thus for ministry is to use the life of Christ as detailed by Gordon and to pray much the same way as Jesus prayed over the apostles and the people but to pray instead over those that this author will be serving.

Conclusion

Gordon’s work was very much worth reading, and it will indeed take future exploration to fully understand and appreciate everything that has been written. The fact of the matter is that Gordon’s work is one that really points a person in a lot of good directions and avenues for spiritual development, and so it is unlike many other works that only seek to describe a subject and having writing that simply just works to arrive at a conclusion. Overall, Gordon’s work is perhaps the most foundational for doing any kind of ministry because it greatly penetrates the curtain that separates those that do ministry from those do don’t.


Bibliography:

Gordon, S. D. “Quiet Talks.” Shippensburg, Pennsylvania: Mercy Place, 2003.

[1] See Gordon, 7

[2] See Ibid, 51

[3] See Ibid, 93

[4] See Ibid, 153

[5] Ibid, 11

[6] See Ibid, 11

[7] Ibid, 7

[8] Ibid, 11-12

[9] Gordon, 14-15

[10] Ibid, 21

[11] Ibid, 22-23

[12] Ibid, 22

[13] Ibid, 24

[14] Ibid, 25

[15] Ibid, 27

[16] Ibid, 28-29

[17] Ibid, 30

[18] Ibid, 31

[19] Ibid, 32-33

[20] Ibid, 40

[21] Ibid, 40-41

[22] Ibid, 46-47

[23] Ibid, 51-52

[24] Ibid, 52-53

[25] Ibid, 54

[26] Ibid, 56

[27] Ibid, 66

[28] Ibid, 69

[29] Ibid, 77

[30] Ibid, 79

[31] Ibid, 94

[32] Ibid, 95-96

[33] Ibid, 99

[34] Ibid, 107

[35] Ibid, 111

[36] Ibid, 117

[37] Ibid, 120

[38] Ibid, 129

[39] Ibid, 129-131

[40] Ibid, 136

[41] Ibid, 139

[42] Ibid, 155

[43] Ibid, 9

[44] Ibid, 22


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