The Pray-ers / Book 1 Troubles, written by Mark S. Mirza, and published by CTM Publishing, Atlanta, is a novel that follows the lives of three Christians, Epaphras, a first century contemporary of Paul, a nineteenth century preacher, and a modern-day new believer. As the reader follows the lives and struggles of these men, she “meets” the angels and demons that are assigned to respectively encourage and to tempt each man.
The purpose of The Pray-ers is not only to entertain, but to give the reader explicit instruction in the art and practice of prayer. As one character teaches another about prayer, about discerning God’s will, and about leading lives that honor Him, the reader also learns the lesson, and witnesses the characters growing in their faith. As Mirza states in his Preface, “I want you to learn prayer. I don’t just want you to learn ABOUT prayer.”
The book is also a look into spiritual warfare. The three demons refer to God as the “Holy Enemy,” follow their human charges around, and strategize how to tempt them into sin or how to distract them from practices such as sincere prayer that will cause the humans to follow God rather than practice sin and selfishness. The demons fight and compete among themselves, demonstrating the results of rebellion against God. This aspect of the novel reminds me of C.S. Lewis’s Screwtape Letters. Meanwhile, three angels encourage the lead characters, occasionally even appearing to them. The appearance of the angels strikes fear into the demons because they realize that they cannot effectively fight God or His messengers. I find it fascinating to think about the spirit world around us and enjoyed this aspect of the novel.
Throughout the novel are footnotes for scripture verses that reference the stories, passages, and principles that are being taught. The reader could use the book as a Bible study by looking up each verse or could easily ignore most of them, just researching the few that provoked more interest.b
I found The Pray-ers to be both imaginative and instructional. Unfortunately, it was also in need of some serious editing. I found the wording to be awkward and repetitive and the book was littered with punctuation errors, spelling errors, and incorrect word usage. Because of this, I found it difficult to read and found my self frequently either editing passages in my head or rereading sentences that didn’t make sense the first time through. It was also a bit too preachy. I felt that the characters did a lot of “lecturing” each other in order to convey the message to the reader and this felt awkward in a novel. I was best able to follow the story by skimming, which certainly wasn’t the author’s intent. Perhaps with some revision, the story could better reach its potential.
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