Powerful. Humbling. Challenging. Encouraging, Christ-focused and God-honoring. These are my first thoughts upon completion of the new book The Pray-ers / Book One Troubles by author Mark S. Mirza. Other thoughts about this book from CTM Publishing Atlanta include: impactful, comforting others with the comfort we have received, and for our good and God's glory. How many times has God used a book to radically change your life? Other than my Bible, only a few. This book will be added to that short list. God knew I needed it, and He had been preparing me for its arrival. Before and during this review our church has been studying Christ's teachings on the Christian life, and specifically prayer, from Matthew 5 & 6. The week before it arrived I had simply asked God to show me where I needed an overhaul.
The Pray-ers is not a devotional, but rather a historical fiction book about prayer in the lives of the character's. It focuses on God-honoring, Scripture-centered prayer and how it can be done in our own lives. This book challenges the reader to be transformed by the Holy Spirit from someone who prays their own prayers into someone who prays Scripture while truly seeking the heart of God.
The Pray-ers / Book One Troubles is the first in a planned trilogy that introduces us to the main characters in three time periods. Before you begin reading it is critically important to read through the Preface where the author, Mark S. Mirza, outlines not only why he felt compelled to write the book, but also his deviation from common English Grammar rules on names, as well as pointing out where the focus of the book should lead his readers. Trust me, you need to read the Preface! I found his notes here immensely helpful. The text of the book includes footnotes whenever a Scripture is referenced. In his Preface, Mr. Mirza stated he hoped these would be helpful for subsequent re-readings of the book. I found them helpful on my first reading, as I often found myself pausing in the story to look up which text was referenced, either in my Bible, or on the Bible App on my phone.
In The Pray-ers, the portrayal of the Spiritual world and the continual battle between the demons and angels over the minds of humans reminded me of how Chuck Black described this battle in his War of the Realms series. For fans of Chuck Black's writing, The Pray-ers / Book One Troubles should be at the top of your "to-read" list. It is rare to find an author who can work the complexities of Spiritual Warfare into a book without losing the flow of the storyline, but Mark S. Mirza has done a seamless job of it.
The three eras covered in the book are the First Century (early church,) the Nineteenth Century (after the Civil War,) and the Current Era (about 2013.) Although most of the characters are fictional, they do come to life on the pages of The Pray-ers. I found myself saying "Amen!" alongside them to many of the joys and struggles of everyday life. Thales is the focus of the First Century plot line, and we see watch him go from young and overly ambitious to slightly older and more God-focused. The Nineteenth Century plot line focuses on just a few days in the life of an itinerant preacher in central Georgia, Alexander Rich. Brother Alexander lives a life focused on God, shepherding his various small flocks, and spending much time in prayer for them. The Current Era focuses on the lives of Dr. Dale Riley, a college professor and track coach, and his wife Margie.
In each time period, the main chapters find them selves with "Troubles," as a result of something God is using in their lives, or the lives of their friends or colleagues, to bring people to Himself. I could tell you more of the storyline, but I won't because you need to be impacted by reading it yourself! Whether you are a young Christian, a more mature believer, or someone who is searching for God, this book should make a difference in your life! I have already told both of our daughters that it will be required reading for them for this Fall. I would recommend it for ages 16 and up. I often stopped to ruminate on how a character handled a situation and asked God for His wisdom in specific areas in my life that He brought to mind.
The Pray-ers / Book One Troubles is available in both softcover ($23.95) and e-book ($4.99) versions. Book two in the trilogy is expected to be out by Christmas of this year. I am definitely putting it on my wish list!
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