On Judging Books by their Covers (and marketing sheets)

Every week, publishers launch new books to the Christian market. We get many of them, accompanied by the usual sell sheet and press release. Some even offer suggested interview questions (which I almost always ignore), and others send along articles that have appeared in well-known Christian publications. Some of these marketing materials are great; others send up red flags.

We carefully review the books we receive, and look for any concerns that might pop up. We haven’t received this one yet, but others have. As the title of the following book review suggests, this is creating some buzz in the Evangelical world.  And yet reading this article makes me very uncomfortable. Not that God doesn’t perform miracles and give provision to His children. Not only do I believe that He does this, but I know He answers prayers.

Perhaps it is the way the publisher is promoting it.  But I’ve seen enough of these to know that people will spend big money–perhaps money they can’t really afford, to get that miracle they so desperately want. Because of this, there is always the possibility that I’m being unfair; that I’ve become jaded in my thinking and have jumped to wrong conclusions.   So I’m asking our community – you – to weigh in. Read this review. Does it make you want to buy the book?  What are your thoughts? Discern away:

Evangelicals Buzz About New Miracle Prayer Book – Christian Newswire

The new book, When You Need a Miracle, How to Ask God for the Impossible, by Linda Evans Shepherd, teaches readers how to reach out to God and ask for a miracle, even claiming, “If you read this book until the end, you will experience miracles.”

Don Piper, author of 90 Minutes in Heaven, spoke to this claim, saying, “I read it. I did. . . God makes the impossible possible every day. Sometimes we just need something to remind us how to ask for it.”

Besides Piper’s endorsement, there’s a growing buzz about the book, including author Kathy Howard who said, “Linda highlights the truth that God is not a spiritual vending machine. Therefore, God’s miracles may not come packaged in the ways we would expect, but they do come in ways that will transform our lives.”

Bestselling author Rebecca Barlow Jordan added to the discussion saying, “I believe that what makes Linda’s book stand out from others is her solid biblical truths which help cut through hindrances to God’s working in our lives, allowing us to find freedom — which is a miracle many need.”

Author and reviewer Yvonne Ortega said, “This is no ordinary book on prayer. . . Sometimes when we are in the thick of horrendous circumstances, we forget we are in spiritual warfare. This miracle book is worth double the price just for the Set Free Prayers.”

Reviewer Janet Holm McHenry added “Though I’ve both written and read dozens of books on prayer, I found many new insights in Shepherd’s book. I particularly loved her Next Step Principle and the wonderful stories of answers to prayer. I highly recommend it!”

When You Need a Miracle, How to Ask God for the Impossible will be a comfort to those who struggle with faith yet still dare to believe that God cares enough to both hear and respond to their prayers. Shepherd walks with readers on a journey through prayer to renewed hope and the assurance that God still works miracles.

When You Need a Miracle — How to Ask God for the Impossible is from publisher Baker Revell and is available at Christian book stores everywhere, as well as online book and ebook sources including Amazon, CBD, and Barnes and Noble. For more information on the book or to contact Shepherd, see www.NeedMiracleBook.com.

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5 Responses to On Judging Books by their Covers (and marketing sheets)

  1. Jenny says:

    A thorough response to these issues requires quite a bit of time and energy. I will pray over these issues and look at relevant scriptures before I can put my thoughts into a cohesive and intelligible statement.


  2. Jenny says:

    I have gathered only a few thoughts on this subject, as I am a busy homeschool mother of two young children ages 5 and 9. I am not a theologian per se, but I trust that the Holy Spirit has given me at least these insights on this subject in prayer and through the reading of his Word. That we reach out to the Lord in prayer at all and turn to Him is an act resulting from our faith.

    Our Lord's will is that we trust him completely and that we walk by faith and not by sight. Certainly, the words of Paul in his epistle to the Philippians reveals these truths.

    But I rejoiced in the Lord greatly, that now at last you have revived your concern for me; indeed, you were concerned before, but you lacked opportunity. 11 Not that I speak [g]from want, for I have learned to be [h] content in whatever circumstances I am. 12 I know how to get along with humble means, and I also know how to live in prosperity; in any and every circumstance I have learned the secret of being filled and going hungry, both of having abundance and suffering need. 13 I can do all things [i]through Him who strengthens me. 14 Nevertheless, you have done well to share with me in my affliction. Philippians 4:10-14

    According to an online source Joni Eareckson Tada at one time sought the help of faith healers. On the subject of modern-day miracles, she says, "Man’s dealing with God in our day and culture is based on His Word rather than ‘signs and wonders’" (op cit., p. 190). His grace is sufficient, and His Word is sure.

    Dr. James Montgomery Boice was the longtime pastor of Tenth Presbyterian Church in Philadephia (1968–2000). He was well known for his expository preaching through books of the Bible—Romans in five years, for example. He was diagnosed with liver cancer in 2000 and died a few weeks later. Upon hearing the news of his disease, Dr. Boice immediately gave a report to his church in which he addressed the question of praying for him and specifically what to pray for:

    A number of you have asked what you can do, and it strikes me that what you can do, you are doing. This is a good congregation, and you do the right things. You are praying certainly, and I’ve been assured of that by many people. And I know of many meetings that have been going on.

    A relevant question, I guess, when you pray is, pray for what? Should you pray for a miracle? Well, you’re free to do that, of course. My general impression is that the God who is able to do miracles—and he certainly can—is also able to keep you from getting the problem in the first place. So although miracles do happen, they’re rare by definition. A miracle has to be an unusual thing.

    I think it’s far more profitable to pray for wisdom for the doctors. Doctors have a great deal of experience, of course, in their expertise, but they’re not omniscient—they do make mistakes—and then also for the effectiveness of the treatment. Sometimes it does very well and sometimes not so well, and that’s certainly a legitimate thing to pray for.

    I think Mr. Boice has a significant point about the nature of the miraculous not being commonplace. Yet in Matthew 19:26 Jesus himself says that with God all things are possible. Miriam Webster definies a miracle in these terms. Yes, there is actually an entry related to the heresy of fulfillment of "spiritual law" derived from the cult of Christian Science which is ,at least, dangerously similar to and, at worst, the same as the practice of modern-day "positive confession."

    1 : an extraordinary event manifesting divine intervention in human affairs
    2 : an extremely outstanding or unusual event, thing, or accomplishment
    3 : in Christian Science : a divinely natural phenomenon experienced humanly as the fulfillment of spiritual law

    Our expectations from God in this area depends on our understanding of His character, His will, and what we believe is "good" and/or "loving". God's lovingkindness and goodness do not depend on whether he heals us or not. If we believe that it does it sets us up for disappointment, disillusionment, discouragement, and potential bitterness with God because of our unmet though unbiblical expectations.

    We must beware of the value we place on God based on what we can get from Him in general and believe that All things do work together for good to those who love Him and are called according to His purpose in accordance with the truth of Romans 8:28. Paul understood this well, as the Lord denied him healing of a physical affliction though he prayed in faith with godly sincerity and expectation.

    Though he slay me, yet will I trust in him: but I will maintain mine own ways before him. (Job 13:15)
    http://www.gotquestions.org/God-heal-amputees.htmhttp://www.gotquestions.org/healing-Bible.html http://dbts.edu/blog/?p=3687 http://www.gotquestions.org/Christian-science.htmhttp://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/miracle http://www.reformedwitnesshour.org/1998/1998jul26


  3. Jenny says:

    Without having read the book I would have reservations about promoting ideas that may not be in line with the full counsel of scripture. A thorough examination of the issue is required in order to accurately represent the truth on the matter.


  4. Jenny says:

    My greatest concerns regarding these types of books would be a shortsightedness and lack of theological depth. There is danger in reducing God to a series of simple steps, formulas, and/or techniques.


  5. Jenny says:

    41 And he was withdrawn from them about a stone's cast, and kneeled down, and prayed, 42 Saying, Father, if thou be willing, remove this cup from me: nevertheless not my will, but thine, be done.
    (The words of Christ) Luke 22:41-42


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