Friday, May 25, 2012

Praying With the Grain - a Kregel Review

Praying With the Grain by Pablo Martinez is a fascinating read! As you can see, the subtitle says, "How your personality affects the way you pray". It uses Carl Jung's psychological types to show how individuals with those typologies tend to pray. As a psychology junky, this greatly snagged my attention, and it was a book I just had to read. If you're familiar with the Myers Briggs personality test, then you know what I'm talking about. If you're not familiar with what this is but you've seen or heard people say, "I'm a ESFP" or "I'm an INTJ" (or something similar), then you're one step closer to knowing how this book relates.

This book is a short read--at 175 pages, including Notes--and was so interesting to me that it was read in just a little over an hour. Prayer is the focus of this book, and more specifically, how our personalities define how and where and with what frequency we pray. If we're more interested in being alone to pray, whether we are encouraged by praying in groups, etc.

The first portion of the book (Part I) talks about the eight groups of personalities (based on Sensation, Intuition, Thinking, and Feeling) and what their good points and bad points are. The author also mentions several famous people (including some Biblical familiars) who may have endowed those personality types.

The second portion of the book discusses overcoming problems with praying. We all have our hangups when it comes to praying; sometimes even getting started can be a problem for some. Maybe it's hard to pray aloud, maybe during prayer it's easy to get distracted, or maybe God seems far away. No matter what the problem, the author gives some suggestions for overcoming individual difficulties with prayer.

The last section deals with the value of prayer to the individual--a way to develop a strong relationship to God so that prayer life can be rich and fulfilling. Here's a portion of that section that particularly drew me in and made me think of scripture:

We cannot limit the concept of prayer to words, no matter how important the words may seem. Talking with God is only one of the dimensions of this dialogue. . . . There exists an unspoken language: the language of intention, of desire, of the heart. We see this very thing in daily life. The husband - or vice versa - can transmit much to his wife even if he speaks very little, because there is a type of dialogue that is non-verbal, that involves gestures of tenderness, a loving look, positive attitudes, a dialogue whose rich shades and dimensions escape the realm of words. So we cannot impoverish prayer, limiting it exclusively to verbal communication.
That portion brought to my mind the verse in Romans 8:26 that says, "Likewise the Spirit also helpeth our infirmities: for we know not what we should pray for as we ought: but the Spirit itself maketh intercession for us with groanings which cannot be uttered." Sometimes there are times in prayer when we just can't find the words to speak what's in our hearts. When grief assaults or there's a need so large that you just can't find the words to accurately portray what we really need God to hear, the Holy Spirit takes charge and reveals to God the essence of our need.

At the end of Part I is a Question and Answer section. Part II covers two chapters: Is prayer a psychological illusion and are all prayers alike--comparing Christian prayer to Eastern prayer.

Now, I know you might wonder what my own personality type is. Well, from what I can gather, my closest guess is ISFJ, which stands for Introverted, Sensing, Feeling, Judging (or Introverted-Sensing in Jung's way of analysis). While I'm definitely Introverted, I am barely "Sensing"--the difference between my Sensing and Intuitive scores only vary by 3%, and my score difference between Feeling and Thinking was only 5%. I'm glad that I'm able to have a pretty close balance with those two portions of the personality types.

And how does my personality type affect my prayer life? Well, I'll let you figure that out. :D I love this book!

I received Praying With the Grain as a complimentary gift in exchange for review from Kregel Blog Tours. My comments and opinions are my own.


  1. Since I just got home from Florida and heard the results of 3 different personality tests, you definitely have my interest peaked with your review! Now here's a question for you--do you think it's possible to "break" the tests? My test results came back exactly as I expected, but they don't necessarily reflect how I behave in day-to-day interactions. So now I'm wondering if I answered based on how I perceive myself rather than on how I actually am. Is that even possible? :)

  2. Yeah, I definitely think it's possible to break or deviate from the test results. I'm like you, and I've often thought about asking Brad to help me answer some of the questions about myself that I'm unsure of.

    Then, too, with time, I'm finding myself in more of a balance in some of the personality traits--such as the close scores in two areas--and I think that's a good thing. It makes it a little difficult though because I like to know "who" I am--I'd like to be able to firmly say I'm "ENTJ" or "ISTP" or one of those other types. Unfortunately, it's not that easy. lol

  3. Thanks for the review. Sounds fascinating.


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