1, No. 1
The Secret of Receiving What You Need From God,
by Jim Cymbala
(Grand Rapids: Zondervan, 2003). 237
by Rev. Larry Dilley, M.Div. student and enrollment counselor,
Assemblies of God Theological
Printer Friendly Version (PDF,Download
Jim Cymbala wrote Breakthrough Prayer to encourage Christians
to pray effectively so they might be better equipped to engage
in a life of asking and receiving from God. Although Cymbala
sprinkles Scripture references liberally throughout the book
to support his thesis, Breakthrough Prayer does more than
biblical principles for seeking God’s assistance. In
an easy-to-read style it attempts to “draw the heart
toward the throne of grace” (8).
Cymbala maintains that God desires to bless His people abundantly
because of His great love for them. Churches need God’s
blessing more than they require human talent, cleverness,
or church growth models. We obtain God’s blessing by
crying out in passionate prayer, implanting biblical truth
in our hearts, faithfully obeying God’s commands, and
giving joyfully to others. Cooperation with God is indispensable
to breakthrough prayer. Although God has promised to do much
for His people, He wants us to pray to Him concerning these
promises. Power in prayer comes from our living in God’s
Word that produces the faith that enables us to obtain answers
to our prayers. Scripture refines Christians, purging of
self-dependence so that we may rely more fully on God.
The Holy Spirit’s role in breakthrough prayer is to
reveal both the individual’s need and God’s promised
provision. Although focusing on “praying through” targets
us for spiritual opposition, we should direct our attention
toward God’s glory, not toward ourselves. We then experience
God’s peace as we prevail in prayer.
Breakthrough Prayer does more than offer instruction on
appropriating God’s promises through prayer; it grapples
with the difficulties Christians encounter when, after praying
about a difficult situation, the obstacle remains. We must
engage in two activities at this point—believe that
no problem is too big for God and wait for his answer. Scripture
encourages us to trust God, expecting him to respond in due
time. God’s promises to Abraham to multiply his offspring
remind us of God’s faithfulness toward all of his people
(Genesis 13:16; 15:5).
The primary reason for Jesus’ mission on earth was
to establish a church to bear fruit for God’s kingdom.
The church must live fruitfully, converting and discipling
the world instead of allowing the world unduly to influence
the church. Bearing fruit matters more than counting attendance
and implementing the latest church growth techniques. The
Lord’s kingdom holds no place for bigotry and racial
discrimination, attitudes which characterize far too many
churches. God’s love must replace these hindrances
to bearing fruit.
In addition to Scripture, the author alludes to current
events to illustrate his points. The gripping story of the
miraculous rescue of an individual trapped in the rubble
of the collapsing World Trade Center during the terrorist
attacks of September 11, 2001, aptly describes God’s
mercy and deliverance when those in trouble break through
in prayer. Cymbala views the contemporary issues of sex abuse,
divorce and remarriage, homosexuality, and sensuality in
the church as tares growing among the wheat of those who
are seeking the Lord with a listening ear and a sensitive
heart. God requires holiness of his people, and he will “clean
necessary to find those who will follow him with a pure heart.
Timing is another important element of breakthrough prayer.
Events in the exodus from Egypt demonstrate that God’s
timing generally occurs in one of four ways—never,
always, at certain times, or, not now. Christians should
have no trouble discerning the first two; they are easily
determined from God’s Word. The timing of the latter
two often presents problems, though. We must be in tune with
the Holy Spirit to know both the “certain times” and
now’s” of God.
Finally, Cymbala reminds us that joy is a key to both spiritual
and physical health. We cannot afford to allow cares and
anxiety to rob us of joy. The Holy Spirit produces new streams
of joy, sustaining us introubling times.
Breakthrough Prayer confronts real issues faced by real
people. Jim Cymbala offers no frills, fluff, or quick fixes
to life’s troubling situations. Instead, he brings
the reader back to the Bible to demonstrate the magnitude
of God’s love for His people and His desire to answer
our prayers when we call to Him out of genuine obedience
to His Word. Breakthrough Prayer is a valuable resource for
any Christian—pastor or parishioner—who desires
to understand God’s purposes better and appropriate
promises through prevailing prayer.
Thursday, January 27, 2005 10:26 AM