Becoming the Answer to Our Prayers: Prayer for Ordinary Radicals, By Shane Claiborne and Jonathan Wilson-Hartgrove

Becoming the Answer to Our Prayers

Prayer for Ordinary Radicals

by Shane Claiborne and Jonathan Wilson-Hartgrove

Becoming the Answer to Our Prayers
  • Length: 125 pages
  • Dimensions: 5.5 × 8.25 in
  • Published: September 03, 2008
  • Imprint: IVP
  • Item Code: 3622
  • ISBN: 9780830836222

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"Prayer is not so much about convincing God to do what we want God to do as it is about convincing ourselves to do what God wants us to do." —from the Introduction

Activists Shane Claiborne and Jonathan Wilson-Hartgrove show how prayer and action must go together. Their exposition of key Bible passages provides concrete examples of how a life of prayer fuels social engagement and the work of justice. Phrases like "give us this day our daily bread" and "forgive us our debts as we forgive our debtors" take on new meaning when applied to feeding the hungry or advocating for international debt relief.

If you hope to see God change society, you must be an ordinary radical who prays—and then is ready to become the answer to your own prayers.

"Not everyone will agree with every particular detail of biblical interpretation in this book by Claiborne and Wilson-Hartgrove, but no one can deny the truth of their main argument: God is calling each and all of us to be eager agents fulfilling His purposes in the world! This book compels us passionately to ask, in the power of the Holy Spirit, 'How am I "putting legs on my prayers"?' This is a tested book and a necessary one!"

Marva J. Dawn, teaching fellow in Spiritual Theology, Regent College, Vancouver, and author of Unfettered Hope, Joy in Divine Wisdom and My Soul Waits

"Who learns more fully about the importance of prayer than folks living in Christian community and engaged in social activism? The authors of this wonderful little book share graciously and truthfully from the spiritual wisdom they have gathered."

Christine D. Pohl, professor of social ethics, Asbury Theological Seminary, author of Making Room

"God always raises up new and courageous voices when the church is tempted to forget its own gospel. Here are two of those voices--and two who have been made into the answer to our own fervent prayers."

Richard Rohr, O.F.M., Center for Action and Contemplation, Albuquerque, New Mexico

"Jonathan and Shane--along with the many friends they quote and tell stories about in these pages--are on a journey together toward a bold and beautiful way of living that makes people more truly alive. As one trying hard to stay that same course, I am more than grateful to them for sharing in such clear and practical language what they have been learning along the way about prayer, about community, and about keeping faith with God and our brothers and sisters with their backs against the wall."

Bart Campolo, writer, speaker and neighborhood minister

"Jonathan and Shane, contemplative activists, humble prophets, and sincere lovers of humanity and God, provoke a new way of understanding prayer. Avoiding the tendency to reduce prayer to 'three easy steps' or trite formulas, Jonathan and Shane press the integrity of our prayer lives by challenging us to live into our prayerfulness. Rather than suggesting prayer as wishful thinking or hopefulness wrapped around memorized bedtime recitations, Becoming the Answer to Our Prayers recovers the essence of truly prayerful life--it's the recovery of a sacrificial embodiment of our prayers. God's answer to our prayers might be as close, or as far away, as our willingness to be available as part of the solution. Jonathan and Shane make this simple truth accessible and available, inspiring us to an authentic prayer life--a life lived to answer prayers."

Christopher L. Heuertz, international director, Word Made Flesh, and author of Simple Spirituality: Learning to See God in a Broken World

"Claiborne and Wilson-Hartgrove have slipped the bonds of the ordinary and leapt the chasm of the customary. They have stood at brightly burning bushes that for most of us just won't catch fire. This book is a small invocation which, once prayed, calls for those who thought they knew the far country to see it for the first time. The far country is not so far as we supposed: it lies vivid and visible betwen our 'our Fathers' and our 'thy will be dones.'"

Calvin Miller, Beeson Divinity School, author of The Singer and The Path of Celtic Prayer

"This thoughtful treatise offers a concise taste of Bible study, prayer, and myriad church teachers."

Angelina Conti, Friends Journal, January 2010

"We in the church are blessed by the imaginations of Claiborne, Wilson-Hartgrove, and their communities."

Gavin Dluehosh, The Covenant Companion, February 2010

Claiborne enlists help from his long-time friend Jonathan Wilson-Hartgrove to address how prayer and activism are related. Take a small group through this book as you prepare for a summer mission opportunity.

Paul Berry, YouthWorker Journal, May/June 2009

Claiborne and Wilson-Hartgrove, "radical" Christians who see the danger of burnout and spiritual erosion when those who tend to the marginalized fail to pursue the divine romance that is prayer. The authors use three NT prayers to move the reader outside ordinary assumptions about prayer and challenge us to a deeper relationship with Christ.

Steven Todd, YouthWorker Journal, March/April 2009

It's both rare and refreshing to discover a new perspective on prayer. But if anyone can provide that perspective, it's Shane Claiborne and Jonathan Wilson-Hartgrove. Recommended for anyone interested in social justice, intentional communitites and the new monastics, as well as Christians who have grown beyond books on how to pray and want to learn instead how to live out the prayers they're already praying.

Marcia Ford, Faithful Reader (, March 2009

Like these men's other books, it is another awakening (and sometimes embarrassing) reminder that the contemporary American church is not the radical social force it was called to be.

Rachel Pater, Sarcastic Lutheran (, March 23, 2009

Prayer is always a difficult topic for Christians to wrap their heads around. I'd recommend the book if you like Shane or Jonathan, or more generally if you are passionate in areas of social justice and struggle to connect that with your prayer life.

Eric, Between the Trees, (, October 22, 2008

Readers will never see prayer or community in quite the same way again.

Publisher's Weekly, September 15, 2008



Part I--The Lord's Prayer
Ch. 1 An Invitation to Beloved Community
Ch. 2 Begging for God?s Economy
Ch. 3 Temptations Along the Way

Part II--John 17
Ch. 4 Love and Unity for the Sake of the World
Ch. 5 Praying as a Peculiar People

Part III--Ephesians 1:15-23
Ch. 6 Growing Deeper in Spiritual Wisdom
Ch. 7 Receiving Our Inheritance

About the Authors (and their Communities)


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Shane Claiborne

Shane Claiborne is a preacher, writer, and lover of Jesus. He attended Eastern University, where he studied sociology and youth ministry. Claiborne is cofounder of The Simple Way and is currently a part of The Alternative Seminary in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. He serves on the board of the Christian Community Development Association. He is the author of The Irresistible Revolution and coauthor of Jesus for President. Catch up with him at

Jonathan Wilson-Hartgrove

Jonathan Wilson-Hartgrove (MDiv, Duke Divinity School) is a writer, preacher, and moral activist. He and his wife, Leah, founded the Rutba House, a house of hospitality in Durham, North Carolina. Jonathan directs the School for Conversion, a popular education center in Durham committed to "making surprising friendships possible," and is an associate minister at St. John's Missionary Baptist Church.

Jonathan is the author or coauthor of more than a dozen books, including Reconstructing the Gospel, The Third Reconstruction, Strangers at My Door, Common Prayer, The Awakening of Hope, The Wisdom of Stability, The New Monasticism, and Becoming the Answer to Our Prayers.