In 40 DAYS IN GOD'S BLESSING, a stand-alone follow-up to Rebecca Barlow Jordan's 40 DAYS IN GOD'S PRESENCE, readers will find accessible devotions suitable for weekly or daily quiet times.
Barlow Jordan mines the work of bestselling evangelical writers such as Max Lucado, Rick Warren, John Eldredge, Oswald Chambers and A.W. Tozer (with some surprise quotes by writers such as Eugenia Price) as she creates her devotions. Most readings include several personal and in-the-news type anecdotes, a retelling of a biblical story, and a take-away for the reader. Barlow Jordan's warm, personal style gives her devotions the feel of a short motivational pep talk.
Those familiar with Barlow Jordan's previous book, 40 DAYS IN GOD'S PRESENCE, will find the format comfortably familiar. At the end of each four- to five-page devotion is a "Personal Truth" that wraps up the point of the devotion, usually summed up in a single sentence ("Prayer changes the pray-er"). This is followed by a "Personal Prayer" that the reader is invited to pray to apply the devotional truth. ("Lord, I want to get to know you better. May I never stop depending on you. Change my prayer --- and my heart --- that it might reflect yours." ) Jordan follows this with a "Personal Question" for reflection, which lends itself to a time of self-examination or journaling a response. ("What has God taught you about himself through prayer?")
One of the best devotional essays explores what it means to give unselfishly. "This principle applies not just to financial blessings but to any way that God has blessed us. Blessings are to be shared, not hoarded." Barlow Jordan ends the devotion with a deeply moving story about Mother Teresa. The nun takes rice to a needy mother and her eight children, and the destitute mother promptly divides the rice into two portions to share with her hungry neighbors. "Those who are truly generous see the needs of others," writes Barlow Jordan. In another devotional essay, a motivational story about a couple's love for a severely disabled boy and his subsequent musical talent will leave readers reaching for the Kleenex.
Barlow Jordan makes many good points. One devotion titled "Intentional Kindness" reminds us that good works come about from our faith --- we shouldn't do them as a condition of earning God's favor. Another, "It's All About Him," is seemingly intentionally Lucado-esque in its emphasis on the leadership of God, and a reminder of who we should look to as we strive to do our best. Another devotion, "Breathing Lessons," offers a terrific quote from author Madeleine L'Engle in which she says that creativity requires "being time," or listening to the voice of God for inspiration.
The author laudably tackles some lesser-known biblical characters in her essays, such as Nehemiah, Jehosaphat, Uzziah, Barak and Jael. But, as in the previous book, Barlow Jordan still can't resist the occasional cutesy rhyming phrase ("His inspiration often brings us perspiration;" "Simplicity is not a fad-i-tude, but an attitude") that will appeal to some readers and turn off others. It is also unclear whether some of the anecdotes are fictional or true-to-life (Reverend Smith, the missionary who lost his son).
This is a nice devotional for Christians who enjoy short, scripture-based devotions with personal applications, presented in an invitational format.
Reviewed by Cindy Crosby on July 10, 2006
40 Days in God's Blessing: A Devotional Encounter