The Common Rule | Book Review


“We are all living according to a specific regimen of habits,” writes Justin Whitmel Earley, “and those habits shape most of our life.” Even more, “they form our hearts.” In The Common Rule, Earley outlines a “rule of life” or “program of habits” to help readers fulfill the biblical commandment to love God and neighbor (Matthew 22:34–40). Earley calls this program “the common rule” because it has to do with “common practice by common people.” Its focus on laity rather than clergy distinguishes it from the well-known “rules” of Benedict or Augustine, although its basic purpose is the same as theirs. The … Continue reading The Common Rule | Book Review

Praying Circles Around Your Marriage | Book Review


Some books offer advice about marriage, others about prayer. Praying Circles Around Your Marriage offers advice about both, under the assumption that couples who pray together stay together.“The richness of your marriage will be determined by how frequently and how fervently God is invited into your relationship,” write Joel and Nina Schmidgall. “Prayer will draw you into unity with God and, as a result, with one another.” The concept of “praying circles around _____” comes from Mark Batterson’s excellent book, The Circle Maker. The Schmidgalls are in-laws of Batterson and work with him at National Community Church in Washington, D.C., Joel … Continue reading Praying Circles Around Your Marriage | Book Review

The Couple That Prays Together… | Influence Podcast


“What your marriage will become is determined by how you pray,” write Joel and Nina Schmidgall in their new book, Praying Circles Around Your Marriage. “Prayers for your marriage will allow you to claim God-given promises, fulfill God-given dreams for your family, and seize a God-ordained legacy for generations.” In Episode 164 of the Influence Podcast, I’m talking to the Schmidgalls about their book, which offers great advice about prayer, marriage, and family life. I’m George P. Wood, executive editor of Influence magazine and your host. Joel and Nina Schmidgall are on staff at National Community Churchin Washington, DC. Joel … Continue reading The Couple That Prays Together… | Influence Podcast

Eight Purposeful Habits for a Spiritually Focused Life | Influence Podcast


Every New Year, millions of Americans take time to write resolutions about who they would like to become or what they would like to do in the next 365 days. Researchers at the University of Scranton suggest that only 8 percent of people keep their resolutions. According to U.S. News & World Report, 80 percent of those resolutions fail by the second week of February. What if we’re chasing the wrong thing? What if we need new habits, not New Year’s resolutions? That’s the question I asked myself as I read Justin Whitmel Earley’s new book, The Common Rule: Habits of … Continue reading Eight Purposeful Habits for a Spiritually Focused Life | Influence Podcast

“Our Father in Heaven”: How God’s Character Motivates and Directs Our Prayers


Today is the U.S. National Day of Prayer. When Jesus’ disciples asked for a lesson in how to pray, Jesus laid out a model prayer that starts like this, “This, then, is how you should pray: ‘Our Father in heaven…” Whom You Pray to Matters The Lord’s Prayer (Matthew 6:9–13) consists of six petitions. When we pray, we ask God that His name be hallowed, His kingdom come, His will be done, our needs be met, our sins forgiven, and our souls protected. Notice the order of these requests. First, we direct our attention to God and His concerns; then … Continue reading “Our Father in Heaven”: How God’s Character Motivates and Directs Our Prayers

Celebration of Discipline, 4th Ed. | Book Review


“Superficiality is the curse of our age,” writes Richard J. Foster in Celebration of Discipline. “The desperate need for today is…deep people.” These words ring as true in 2018 as they did in 1978 when Celebration of Discipline was first published. And spiritual disciplines are still the way to produce depth. As Foster summarizes the matter in the book’s new Foreword, spiritual disciplines are “the means God uses to build in us an inner person that is characterized by peace and joy and freedom.” If you’re looking for help in overcoming the superficiality and distractedness of the current age, start … Continue reading Celebration of Discipline, 4th Ed. | Book Review

God Always Answers Our Prayer | World Day of Prayer


The first Friday of March is always World Day of Prayer. Over at InfluenceMagazine.com, I commemorate the day with an extended meditation on the truth that God always answers our prayers. ***** God always answers our prayers, but not necessarily the way we want Him to. He has our best interests in mind. So, sometimes He says “Yes,” sometimes “No,” sometimes “Wait,” and sometimes — frankly — “Grow up!” Let’s take a look at each answer, starting with “Yes.” Yes James 5:13–18 says this about prayer: Is anyone among you in trouble? Let them pray. Is anyone happy? Let them sing … Continue reading God Always Answers Our Prayer | World Day of Prayer