Although this book is about prayer (the unanswered kind), it really addresses what theologians call theodicy — the problem of pain. The word literally means “the justice of God.” If God is good, and all-powerful, and loving, why does he allow us to suffer? At times we all struggle to understand this question. In the midst of illness, trouble and difficulty, the very time when we need God’s presence most, He often feels absent.
Using his own journey through the serious and chronic illness of his wife, the author explores the reasons our prayer life may seem dry, and our prayers go unanswered. He also includes ways we can engage with the silence of God and remain hopeful.
At the end of the book there is a personal checklist which recaps why a prayer may be unanswered, along with a scriptural reference and suggestions about what we can do when this happens. Please note: this does not mean God is like a gum ball dispenser and if we just learn which buttons to push, we will get what we want. There is also an appendix listing heroes of the faith who have struggled with unanswered prayer and a 40-day prayer guide which I am finding very helpful for reflection, prayer and journaling.
VERDICT: 4 STARS. If you are a Lutheran, you will disagree with the author’s stance on free will –he believes that we “make a decision” to believe. Otherwise, interesting, well-written and helpful.
For more about the problem of suffering see:
Suffer Strong by Katherine & Jay Wolf–Book Review
No Cure for Being Human by Kate Bowler–Book Review