Excerpted from the book Like a Tree by Mitchell Tolle, American artist
May 2008 – Prayer is not a matter of skill or eloquence. It is a matter of doing, and most people don’t pray. Prayer is not a mere religious ritual nor is it to be compared to the so-called power of positive thinking. It is not some untried theory, a hopeful roll of the dice, a kind of hail-Mary shot to make when all else fails.
Prayer is your greatest opportunity for success. Prayer gives you access to power and wisdom of deep and mysterious consequence. You may not be able to move mountains, but when you pray, prayer moves the strong arm of God, and He who made them can move them, effortlessly. You may not have the necessary resources to accomplish a certain thing. You may lack understanding or knowledge or skill to do what needs to be done, but in prayer you get the help that you require.
When a king named Jehoshaphat learned that a coalition of armies from various nations had joined forces to come against him to make war, he prayed. If you’ll read the story you’ll see that he was outnumbered and under-equipped. His military strategists had no plan that could defeat the enemy or save the nation (2 Chronicles 20:3,12).
This great king was afraid, outnumbered and had no plan. He decided to pray. Not only did the king pray, but he asked others to pray with him. It is always good to get other praying people to pray with you, but it is a tragic mistake to ask others to pray and neglect to pray yourself. God’s answer to the king was clear and immediate: “You [need] not fight in this [battle]; station yourselves, stand and see the salvation of the Lord on your behalf” (2 Chronicles 20:17 NASB).
Do what Jehoshaphat and many world leaders have done throughout the ages. Pray. When your back is against the wall, pray. If you need help, pray. When you don't know what to do, pray. If you are struggling at your present job, pray. If your marriage is falling apart, pray. If you don't have enough money and you are unable to manage what you do make, pray. If you are inclined to worry, pray. If you are paralyzed by fear, pray. If you lack wisdom or need understanding, pray. Whatever the question, prayer is the answer. Regardless of the problem, prayer is the solution. Prayer gives you access to God, to the riches of heaven and to the Wisdom of the ages.
“The Bible is the ultimate textbook on success and failure,” Mitchell Tolle writes in his book Like a Tree: A Radical Approach to Living the Good Life. The Berea, Kentucky, man may be better known as an American artist, but he possesses both a gift for extracting kernels of wisdom from Biblical principles and an Appalachian wit for spinning a compelling story.
Like a Tree packs its 230 pages with one-liners worthy of Ben Franklin’s Poor Richard’s Almanac, e.g.–
On Wise Counsel – Don’t ever take advice from a talking snake.
On the Power of the Mind – Thoughts, whether noble or base, set the course for our lives and change the world.
On Material Things – It is dangerous to desire something for nothing, and it is calamitous to get it.
On Daily Living – If the world is doing it, that’s a pretty good indication that you shouldn’t be.
Beyond the insightful one-liners, however, Tolle mines deep truths from Psalm 1 and other Scriptures. For example, he delivers a powerful lesson based on the children of Israel and the decision that led them away from the Promised Land to 40 years in the desert. In a more personal context, he uses intriguing anecdotes about the people in his childhood mountain home.
Review by Randall Murphree