Christianity Today has compiled a list of the â€œThe Top 50 Books That Have Shaped Evangelicals.â€ The fifty books they selected are billed as the â€œLandmark titles that changed the way we think, talk, witness, worship, and live.â€ What book do you think would be number one on a list like this one? If you guessed C. S. Lewisâ€™ Mere Christianity, you would be wrong (#3). You would also be wrong if you guessed J. I. Packerâ€™s Knowing God (#5), Carl Henryâ€™s Uneasy Conscience (#15), or even John Piperâ€™s Desiring God (#39). The number one book that has shaped modern evangelicals is Learning Conversational Prayer by Rosalind Rinker.
I donâ€™t know about you, but I have never even heard of Rosalind Rinker or her book. Nevertheless, the editors at CT think her book is numero uno. Hereâ€™s how they justified their choice: â€œRosalind Rinker taught us something revolutionary: Prayer is a conversation with God. The idea took hold, sometimes too much (e.g., â€˜Lord, we just really wanna â€¦â€™).â€
I have to admit that I have caught myself using the word â€œjustâ€ a whole lot in my prayers. I have come to regard it as a prayer-tic, a vain repetition from which I have been trying to repent. If the pathology of that little habit goes back to a book that I have never even heard of, then maybe the editors at CT are on to something after all.