My friend also asked me if he should encourage her to pour out her frustration, doubts and bitterness to God in prayer.  This is what I counseled him.  Would you agree or would you advise him differently?  I’d appreciate any thoughts you have on this matter.

As for “honestly” pouring out her bitterness towards God in prayer, I would not counsel this.  I don’t think God will strike her dead for it, especially if she is of his elect and Christ has died for all her sins, but we should not encourage irreverence as a means to spiritual growth. I realize that the Psalmist pours out his doubt and pain, but he almost always ends with seeing himself as a fool and praising God for his goodness.  You could put together a Bible study of such passages to give to her.  I would recommend Jerry Bridges’ “The Joy of Fearing God” as an antidote to irreverence and an encouragement to trust in God’s goodness.

Caveat Lector!


A friend asked me a bibliographical question regarding a woman (leaving aside the question of her conversion) who was tempted to think that God was indifferent to her prayers.  I composed the following list of topics and books that I thought would be germane.  I’d be grateful to receive your counsel as to effective resources in such a case.  Thanks,  JOB

First, there are works that focus on the nature of true happiness.  George Swinnock is quite accessible.  The last section of “The Fading of the Flesh” focuses on God as our portion.  So too is Thomas Brooks who wrote “An Ark For All God’s Noahs” on God as our portion.  Both of these books will contrast the portion of the worldly person (the wicked) with God as our portion.  They show how the things we want are so inferior to the things God gives.   In modern authors you might recommend to her Elyse Fitzpatrick’s “Idols of the heart: Learning to Long for God Alone.”  It’s from P&R.  Possibly the woman’s touch would help.  There is also Tim Keller’s “Counterfeit Gods: The Empty Promises of Money, Sex and Power and the Only Hope That Matters.”  There might also be profit in looking at Dan Allender’s “Breaking the Idols of Your Heart: How to Navigate the Temptations of Life.”    He has unusual & helpful insights.

Second, there are books on contentment.  Jeremiah Burroughs’ “Rare Jewel of Christian Contentment” is easily the best.   There some modern books by women which might speak to her.  NavPress publishes Linda Dillow’s “Calm My Anxious Heart: A Woman’s Guide to Finding Contentment.  Crossway publishes Lydia Brownback’s “Contentment: A Godly Woman’s Adornment.  Both look very good and there’s nothing like a woman straight talking to another woman.

Thirdly, I would recommend Thomas Watson’s “All Things For Good.”  It is an exposition of Romans 8:28.  Likewise, John Flavel’s “Mystery of Providence.”  These would help her understand what God is doing by his providence and why it is not against her.

Fourthly, I would suggest books on worldliness.  Joel Beeke’s “Overcoming the World: Grace to Win The Daily Battle” would be very helpful.   Jeremiah Burroughs has written penetratingly on worldly-mindedness and earthly-mindedness.  I think Soli Deo still has it in print.

Fifth, I would suggest  several books to work on her attitudes towards God.    C.J. Mahaney has written “Humility: True Greatness”  (Multnomah).  Out of the Master’s Seminary (and Jay Adams) there is a book entitled, “Humility: The Forgotten Virtue” by Wayne Mack (from P&R)  I would also recommend anything by Jerry Bridges.  Three of his titles specifically stand out to me:  “Transforming Grace: Living Confidently in God’s Unfailing Love (NavPress); “Trusting God: Even When Life Hurts” (NavPress) and “Respectable Sins: Confronting the Sins We Tolerate,” (NavPress).

Sixth, would be books on prayer, especially unanswered prayer.  Thomas Goodwin’s “The Return of Prayer,” is the Puritan classic.  Although I don’t like Jay Green’s printing, his edition is the most affordable on the net.  I have  been told by a discerning woman that Philip Yancey’s “Disappointed With God.”  is very helpful.

Caveat Lector!