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Prayer Life. How your personality affects the way you pray (Book Review)

winter 2004

From triple helix - winter 2004 - Prayer Life. How your personality affects the way you pray (Book Review) [pp18-19]

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Prayer Life. How your personality affects the way you pray - Pablo Martinez - Paternoster Press 2001 - £7.99Pb 156pp - ISBN 1 85078 436 1

'I would like my readers to think of prayer without guilt...prayer should not be just one more burden in life, but a pleasure to enjoy' writes Pablo Martinez in his introduction. His book goes a long way towards meeting this aim.

Combining his psychiatric training and experience as a pastor, Martinez explores why people with different personalities pray in different ways. Personality types are categorised using two axes to represent four psychological functions: thinking-feeling and sensation-intuition. A primary and auxiliary function can be identified (one from each axis), giving eight types, which are then doubled by the extrovert/introvert classification. As Martinez describes the different types, it is easy to identify with them and consider the various pitfalls and strengths of your temperament.

This approach helps alleviate the guilt that many feel about the way they pray (or fail to pray), a feeling that is often augmented by comparisons with others' prayer lives. Martinez urges us to be more accepting of others and ourselves: 'We are not required to like our temperament, but to work through it for God's glory in our lives', and allow others to do likewise. However, Martinez also offers guidance to help us develop in prayer; having identified our areas of weakness, we are better equipped to overcome them.

He moves on to explore the therapeutic value of prayer. In the last section of the book he provides a defence of Christian prayer against the charge that it is mere auto-suggestion, or no different from Eastern meditation.

John Stott has written in the foreword to this book, 'Here is a psychiatrist who is committed to Christ, knows his Bible, rejoices in Christ's cross, has a lively sympathy for struggling Christians and has much wisdom born of rich pastoral experience...I cannot imagine any reader failing to be helped by it, as I have been myself.' This book is warmly recommended for personal reading, practice library and passing on to Christian patients or church members.

Reviewed by
Peter Pattisson
ICMDA Regional Secretary for Europe and the former USSR

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