Jim Cymbala admits that he is a pastor without formal theological training, yet he heads up a large and flourishing church in inner city New York, the Brooklyn Tabernacle, which reaches out to the poor and needy in very practical and spiritual ways.
He has already written some excellent books, Fresh Wind, Fresh Fire; Fresh Faith; Fresh Power; The Life God Blesses; and The Church God Blesses. All are from a humble perspective, telling stories of miracles and good things happening at their church, and explaining how others may have the same from God.
In this book, Breakthrough Prayer, Cymbala tells the stories of a number of people who have come to Brooklyn Tabernacle, and how they came to the point where they reached breakthrough prayer - breaking through the sin and bondage they were under, to come to victory and transformation in Christ Jesus. Each story highlights a different aspect of prayer that gets answered.
It is too hard to pick a favourite passage, but perhaps the part that still rings clearly in my mind is the second last chapter on joy. Cymbala says that hardly anyone ever asks God for the joy He has promised to give. I found myself saying, "Yes, Lord! That's what I want to start asking for more often!"<
There was a time, just after I'd moved home to look after my ailing parents, that I found myself sad and weepy all the time. I realized I was grieving all the things I'd given up of my independent and social life far away, and that butting into Mom's strong will was taking a toll on me. I remember praying one day in the car, "Lord, I'll know I've been healed of all this grieving and sadness when I find myself singing for joy without meaning to." A long time has passed, but those days do happen now. So with an extra effort to ask for that joy from the Lord, I think it can become a regular and permanent part of my character.
But Jim Cymbala is right. All these spiritual victories and blessings can only be had by praying for them.
"We need to discern," Cymbala says on page 195, "whether the Lord is saying one of four things;
At certain times
His treatment of how God answers these things is very helpful. In fact, knowing when God applies these answers can save us a lot of pitfalls, and foolishly praying for things we already know God's answer to.
This is just a 236 page soft cover book, but it would pay to read it more than once so you can get all the encouragement and spiritual help out of it. One reading is not enough!