World-changers. Rebels. Rejecters of the status quo. Throughout history, Christians were never meant to have a safe faith.
Learn from the brave ones who have gone before you with Dangerous Prayers, an inspiring collection of prayers from people who have changed the world. Exploring historical figures, cultural icons, political leaders, saints, and martyrs, this book offers you a rich visual experience to explore the power of dynamic prayers.
From St. Francis of Assisi to Harriett Tubman to Billy Graham, God can use ordinary people who pray courageous prayers to do extraordinary things for Him. No matter your age, position, or status, praying dangerous prayers will change your life—and likely the world around you as well.
Gain wisdom from the prayer lives of spiritual giants and invigorate your faith as you consider those who came before you with Dangerous Prayers.
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About the Author
Susan Hill is a writer and Bible teacher with an MA in theology and a BS in journalism. She and her husband, John, live in Nashville, Tennessee, with two unruly goldendoodles.
Francesca Resta is an artist living in Italy. Although painting is her job, it was also her first and greatest passion. She chose digital painting as her primary artistic technique because it allows her to follow her natural flow while creating an image. Francesca is always playing around with new techniques and different media for her personal works or sketches.
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Richard Allen is widely recognized as the denominational founder of the African Methodist Episcopal (AME) Church, the first independent black denomination.
Allen was born into slavery in Philadelphia in 1760. He became a Christian when he was seventeen and began preaching on his plantation and at local Methodist churches whenever he had the opportunity. In time, his master became a Christian and allowed Allen to purchase his freedom.
In 1781, Allen began circuit preaching in Delaware and the surrounding states. Five years later, he returned to Philadelphia and became a member at St. George's Methodist Church. His leadership attracted other African Americans to the church, and racial tensions escalated. In 1786, white and black people often worshipped together, but blacks were forced into segregated seating and inconvenient service times.
Allen realized the African American community needed its own house of worship. Though he had no desire to leave the Methodist Church, and although denominational leaders resisted, he founded the Bethel African Methodist Episcopal Church. Bishop Francis Asbury dedicated the building and ordained Allen as a deacon.
Despite attempts by white Methodist leaders to keep Allen's congregation and property under their jurisdiction, in 1816, the Pennsylvania Supreme Court ruled the church belonged to Allen and his congregants. Later that year, the AME became a recognized denomination, and Allen was ordained as an elder and bishop, becoming the first African American to hold the office in the United States. The denomination grew rapidly and today has more than two million members.
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O, precious blood of my dear Redeemer! O, gaping wounds of my crucified Savior! Who can contemplate the sufferings of God incarnate, and not raise his hope, and not put his trust in Him? What, though my body be crumbled into dust, and that dust blown over the face of the earth, yet I undoubtedly know my Redeemer lives, and shall raise me up at the last day; whether I am comforted or left desolate; whether I enjoy peace or am afflicted with temptations; whether I am healthful or sickly, succored or abandoned by the good things of this life, I will always hope in Thee, O, my chiefest, infinite good.
— Richard AllenCHAPTER 2
AUGUSTINE OF HIPPO
Augustine was an early Christian theologian and philosopher whose writings impacted the development of Western Christianity and philosophy. Augustine was an unlikely scholar. At age seventeen, when he left his small North African town for school in Carthage, he was considered an underachiever who was more interested in wayward living than schoolwork. But Augustine threw himself into his studies and became known for his intellectual curiosity. By the time he completed his studies, he'd forsaken his mother's Christian faith, although she continued to pray for his conversion.
After teaching for a season, Augustine entered a time of personal struggle and a shift in philosophies. He was wrestling with the concept of personal sin when he read the writing of the apostle Paul in Romans 13:13–14. Augustine later wrote, "No further would I read; nor needed I: for instantly at the end of this sentence, by a light as it were of serenity infused into my heart, all the darkness of doubt vanished away."
Following his conversion, Augustine resigned from his professorship. In 391, Augustine arrived in Hippo, intending to set up a monastery. Instead, against his desire, he was made a priest. Five years later, he became the bishop of Hippo.
Augustine was tasked with the job of defending Christianity against allegations that it had caused the Roman Empire's downfall by shifting eyes away from Roman gods. Augustine's response to the criticism came in a body of written work. His most important writings are The City of God, On Christian Doctrine, and Confessions. Augustine died from fever at age seventy-six, but his work survived, and his theology became foundational as the early church was built.
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Listen to my supplication, Master, so that my soul doesn't stagger under Your instruction, so that I don't stumble in testifying to Your mercies, by which You tore me away from all my ruinous pathways. Thus You'll grow sweet to me beyond all that led me wrong, in my willingness to follow it. Thus I'll love You most mightily, and grasp Your hand with all the strength of my inmost being. Thus You'll tear me away from every trial, clear to the end.
— Augustine, based on 1 Corinthians 1:8CHAPTER 3
JOHANN SEBASTIAN BACH
Bach was born in Eisenach, Thuringia (Germany), into a family that produced fifty-three notable musicians in seven generations. Bach received his first music lessons from his father, Johann Ambrosius, a town musician, but by age ten, Bach was an orphan and went to live and study music with his older brother, Johann Christoph. Early on, it was apparent that Bach possessed extraordinary talent.
In 1723, after years of study and having held several prominent musical positions, Bach settled in Leipzig, Germany, where he remained until his death. He became the musical director and choirmaster of St. Thomas church and school. Bach's tenure there was dismal. He struggled with the town council, who was critical of his work and unwilling to pay him a reasonable salary. Yet, it was in this unfortunate environment that Bach wrote his most enduring music, including his classic Mass in B Minor, The Passion of St. John, and The Passion of St. Matthew.
Today a composer who writes one cantata a year is highly esteemed. For a season, Back was writing a cantata every week, 202 of which remain. Johann knew that without Jesus' help, he would never be able to complete the task of composing each new piece, so before writing the first note, Johann carefully wrote the letters J J — short for Jesu, Juva, or "Jesus, Help" — at the top of the page. With that, the music began to pour from his soul and onto the page. When he was finally satisfied, he wrote the letters SDG at the bottom of the page. These letters stood for Soli Deo Gloria — "for the glory of God alone." His prayer was that whenever the music was played, it would point toward God.
Nearly 75 percent of Bach's one thousand compositions were written for use in worship. Because of his talent, his love for Christ, and the impact of his musical contributions, Bach is often called "the Fifth Evangelist."
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Jesus, help me show Your glory through the music I write. May it bring You joy even as it brings joy to Your people.
— Johann Sebastian BachCHAPTER 4
MARY MCLEOD BE THUNE
Mary McLeod Bethune, an educational pioneer and a champion of racial and gender equality, was born on July 10, 1875, one of the youngest of the seventeen children of former slaves Samuel and Patsy McLeod. Following the Civil War, her mother continued working for her former owner until she saved enough money to purchase the land on which the McLeod family would grow cotton.
Bethune benefited from postwar efforts to educate African Americans, graduating from Scotia Seminary boarding school in 1894. She went on to attend Dwight Moody's Institute for Home and Foreign Missions in Chicago and became an educator. While teaching in South Carolina, she met and married fellow teacher Albertus Bethune, and they had a son in 1899.
In 1904, Bethune opened the Daytona Beach Literary and Industrial School for Training Negro Girls, a boarding school. The school later merged with the Cookman Institute and became Bethune-Cookman College in 1929. Bethune was a tireless advocate for gender and racial equality and went on to become the highest-ranking African American woman in government when she was named director of Negro Affairs of the National Youth Administration by President Franklin Roosevelt.
In 1940, she became vice president of the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP). Bethune was also a member of the advisory board that created the Women's Army Corps in 1942. In 1945, she was appointed by President Harry S. Truman to serve as the only woman of color at the founding conference for the United Nations. Bethune's life was celebrated with a variety of awards, including a memorial statue in Washington, DC, and a postage stamp was issued in her honor in 1985. Today her final home is recognized as a National Historic Site.
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Father, we call Thee Father because we love Thee. We are glad to be called Thy children, and to dedicate our lives to the service that extends through willing hearts and hands to the betterment of all mankind. ... Grant us strength and courage and faith and humility sufficient for the tasks assigned to us.
— Mary McLeod BethuneCHAPTER 5
Dietrich Bonhoeffer was a German pastor, theologian, and author known for his resistance to Adolf Hitler and the Nazi regime. He was among a small number of dissidents who worked from the inside to dismantle the Third Reich.
Bonhoeffer, a young pastor and speaker when Hitler rose to power, was one of the earliest critics of the Nazi regime. He was among a group of pastors and theologians who launched the Confessing Church, a movement that denounced the infiltration of Nazi ideology in the German Evangelical Church.
During his short lifetime, Bonhoeffer wrote a number of books, including the Christian classics The Cost of Discipleship and Life Together. He also pastored several congregations and trained young ministers.
Because of Bonhoeffer's outspoken political opinions, he eventually became a person of interest to the Nazi regime. Ultimately, Bonhoeffer was charged with his connections to resistance groups, and he was arrested and taken to a concentration camp, where he spent two years before being sentenced to death. He was executed shortly before the end of the World War II.
A decade after Bonhoeffer's death, a doctor who was present at his murder described Bonhoeffer's last moments:
The prisoners ... were taken from their cells, and the verdicts of court-martial read out to them. Through the half- open door in one room of the huts, I saw Pastor Bonhoeffer, before taking off his prison garb, kneeling on the floor praying fervently to his God. I was most deeply moved by the way this lovable man prayed, so devout and so certain that God heard his prayer. At the place of execution, he again said a prayer and then climbed the steps to the gallows, brave and composed. His death ensued in a few seconds. In the almost fifty years that I have worked as a doctor, I have hardly ever seen a man die so entirely submissive to the will of God.
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Restore me to liberty, and enable me so to live now that I may answer before Thee and before the world.
Lord, whatever this day may bring, Thy Name be praised.
— Dietrich Bonhoeffer, written while awaiting execution in a Nazi concentration campCHAPTER 6
CORRIE TEN BOOM
On April 15, 1892, Corrie ten Boom was the youngest of four children born to a Christian family in Haarlem, Netherlands. The early years of her life were spent peacefully living above her family's watch shop in her hometown. But when World War II began, the ten Booms felt compelled to help the Jews who were being pursued by the Nazis. They built a secret room behind a false wall in Corrie's bedroom that could hold up to six people. Corrie and her family assisted an estimated eight hundred people fleeing from the Gestapo.
On February 28, 1944, an informant posing as a refugee betrayed the ten Booms. Corrie and her family were arrested and put in prison. Her eighty-four-year-old father died after only a few days in custody. During the next ten months, Corrie and her sister, Betsie, were sent to three different prisons, the last being the notorious Ravensbrück concentration camp. While in prison, Corrie and Betsie shared the gospel and led worship services using a Bible they had smuggled into the camp. Betsie did not survive Ravensbrück. Shortly after Betsie's death, Corrie was released due to an administrative error just one week before an order came to kill all the women her age.
Following the war, ten Boom traveled to more than sixty countries, sharing the message of the gospel and God's forgiveness. At one speaking event, she was confronted by a former guard from Ravensbrück who had been particularly cruel. The man had since become a Christian and had come to ask for her forgiveness, which she granted.
Ten Boom consistently shared a message of hope with her audiences, stating, "We have nothing to fear because Jesus is Victor, and He will never let us down. With Jesus, even in our darkest moments, the best remains. And the very best is yet to be."
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Jesus, help me! I can lift my hand. I can do that much. You supply the feeling.
— Corrieten Boom, on forgiving a Nazi guard who worked at the concentration camp where her sister was killedCHAPTER 7
EVANGELINE CORY BOOTH
Evangeline Cory Booth was born in London to William and Catherine Booth, founders of the Salvation Army, in 1865, the same year the Salvation Army was founded. She was named after Eva St. Claire, a Christian heroine in the novel Uncle Tom's Cabin.
Booth began preaching when she was fifteen and demonstrated her parents' same passion for ministry. Within two years she was given her own ministry post and quickly earned the nickname "White Angel of the Slums."
Booth's leadership skills were apparent early on, and she was known for both her problem solving and her proven ability to communicate the Salvation Army's cause. When trouble occurred at a local branch or persecution erupted, it was Evangeline whom General William Booth sent to address the problem. When the organization's American leadership disagreed with her father and ultimately split to become the Volunteers of America, he sent Evangeline to resolve the organizational issues.
In 1934, Booth became general of the Salvation Army, and she held the position for five years. During her travels, she gave lectures that were eventually gathered into a volume titled Toward a Better World. Her writing included a catalog of hymns, her most famous being "The World for God." She once said, "It is not how many years we live, but rather what we do with them."
Booth died of arteriosclerosis on June 17, 1950, at the age of eight- five.
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The world for God! The world for God!
There's nothing else will meet the hunger of my soul.
I see forsaken children, I see the tears that fall From women's eyes once merry, now never laugh at all;
I see the sins and sorrows of those who sit in darkness;
I see in lands far distant, the hungry and oppressed.
But behold! On a hill, Calvary! Calvary!
— Evangeline Cory BoothCHAPTER 8
E. M. BOUNDS
Edward McKendree Bounds was known as a man of prayer. Bounds was born on August 15, 1835, in a small town in Missouri. He attended a one-room schoolhouse in Shelbyville, where his father worked as a county clerk. In the 1850s, Bounds studied law in Hannibal, Missouri. He was a studious young man and was admitted to the bar shortly before his nineteenth birthday. He was also committed to studying the Scriptures and was a student of John Wesley's sermons. He practiced law until he was twenty-four, when he felt called to full-time ministry.(Continues…)
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Table of Contents
Richard Allen, 4,
Augustine of Hippo, 8,
Johann Sebastian Bach, 12,
Mary McLeod Bethune, 16,
Dietrich Bonhoeffer, 20,
Corrie ten Boom, 24,
Evangeline Cory Booth, 28,
E. M. Bounds, 32,
John Calvin, 36,
Amy Carmichael, 40,
George Washington Carver, 44,
Oswald Chambers, 48,
Fanny Crosby, 52,
Thomas Dorsey, 56,
Frederick Douglass, 60,
W. E. B. Du Bois, 64,
Jonathan Edwards, 68,
Elisabeth Elliot, 72,
Francis of Assisi, 76,
Billy Graham, 80,
Jesus Christ, 84,
Helen Keller, 88,
Thomas à Kempis, 92,
Martin Luther King Jr., 96,
John Knox, 100,
Jarena Lee, 104,
C. S. Lewis, 108,
Abraham Lincoln, 112,
Martin Luther, 116,
Aimee Semple McPherson, 120,
Dwight Moody, 124,
Lottie Moon, 128,
George Müller, 132,
John Newton, 136,
Reinhold Niebuhr, 140,
Henri Nouwen, 144,
Rosa Parks, 148,
Saint Patrick, 152,
Charles Spurgeon, 160,
Harriet Beecher Stowe, 164,
Mother Teresa of Calcutta, 168,
Sojourner Truth, 172,
Harriet Tubman, 176,
William Tyndale, 180,
George Washington, 184,
John Wesley, 188,
George Whitefield, 192,
William Wilberforce, 196,
Dora Yu, 200,