Pros: Makes some great points using Biblical references; explains most things well
Cons: Some contradictions; author may think too highly of himself
In Power in Praise, Merlin Carothers delves deeper into the importance of praising than in his previous attempt. He divides his thoughts into 7 chapters, each touching on some form of praise and its benefits.
What does it mean to praise? It's thanking God even for the negative things in our life. If one believes and understands that God has a plan for us, it's easier to accept that those things we might not agree with, or that hurt us in some way, have happened for a reason. Didn't get that job you were so hoping for? It's probably because there's a better one around the corner. Got a flat on the way to work when you were already running late? Maybe you missed a traffic accident on the way. There are so many nuances to this, but those are a couple of examples.
Carothers uses quotes and stories from the Bible (King Jehoshaphat facing insurmountable odds and Joshua facing the wall of Jericho), accounts from people he's met or received letters from, and his own personal experiences to get his points across.
He goes on to discuss the Good News, our salvation being a free gift from God. Many people think they don't deserve it or that they have to do certain things in order to achieve it. Carothers reminds us that salvation is something that has already been paid for. It's faith, accepting Jesus Christ as our Savior and inviting the Holy Spirit into us that are important now.
Baptism in the Holy Spirit is a step that many do not take or aren't sure if they've been granted after they've asked. Some say that they feel a huge difference in themselves, the way they view things or the joy with which they now greet each day. They feel as though they've been internally and eternally cleansed, but we are reminded that everyone is different. If we request that the Holy Spirit fill us, we need to have faith that He has done just that. What follows is what Carothers refers to as "Power Unlimited."
Chapter 5 is essential when trying to understand how we can be expected to praise God for all the negativity. It is a common belief that the devil is the one responsible for all bad things. While he does have a hand in it, God can put a stop to him. This is where things get difficult, sometimes impossible, for people to fathom. Why does God allow some things to happen? Death of children, brutality . . . He can stop it and chooses not to, and we are to praise Him for it? Carothers does, I feel, a pretty good job of touching on this most unrealistic-seeming aspect of praise.
In "Good-bye Grumblings," (Chapter 6) an example is used straight from the Bible which I found to be possibly the best argument for optimism and praise. I like to lead my life looking at the silver linings and trying to stay away from feelings of negativity. Carothers brings up the subject of the Israelites being led by Moses to the Promised Land. Only two of those who left Egypt were allowed to enter that land. Why? Because of their unappreciativeness, their impatience, and their constant petty complaining. If we were to view Heaven is our Promised Land, isn't that a good enough reason to be thankful for the plan God has for us, rather than be upset whenever something doesn't go our way? I think so.
Finally, the result of all this is a life full of joy which renews us in ways we never could have imagined. Carothers, here, shares stories of healing that occurred for him and others, both in physical and emotional ways.
Having recently read and been unimpressed with Prison to Praise by Merlin Carothers, I probably wouldn't have bothered with his Power in Praise if I hadn't already requested it from the library at the same time. I'm thankful that I did since it was much better at explaining the concept of praising God even for the negative things.
My first impressions were not as positive as those I had in the end as evidenced by the words "Study in contradiction" followed by four angry exclamation points. This was written toward the beginning of my notes with page numbers for reference. There was some confusion when I began reading that nearly had me closing the book permanently to spare myself the same experience as I had previously with his writing.
On page 3, Carothers says . . .
We're not supposed to push our understanding out of the way, grit out teeth, and say, "It doesn't make sense to me, but I'll praise the Lord if it kills me, if that's the only way I can get out of this mess!"
That's not praising, that's manipulating.
Then on page 5 we read an account of a mother who wanted to pray for a daughter who "mocks common decency and laughs at religion" by choosing to be a go-go dancer. After locating and sharing with her several Bible verses backing why she should praise God for her daughter's present circumstances, the woman says "I don't understand why it has to be this way, but I'm going to trust that God is at work, thank Him for everything and thereby release His power to work in her life."
I'm really not quite certain how those two quotes work together. The way I read it, the woman did exactly what the first quote says not to do, and yet that same nighther daughter accepted Jesus into her life. That sounds like a direct contradiction to what Carothers was trying to say.
My appreciation for Power in Praise did grow as I read due to the fact that I was able to set aside that issue and do my best to ignore others that popped up that were similar to those I had when reading Prison to Praise. The worst thing was my feeling that Merlin Carothers really likes to toot his own horn. I lost count of how many times he mentioned his previous book and how many people were given it, drawn to it, or picked it up on their own and had life-changing experiences from reading it. I also wasn't thrilled with his lack of belief in one instance of a man's pure faith in God and his healing powers. After having a session with Carothers regarding his wife's recent admission to a mental institution following a nervous breakdown, the man learned the importance of praise. He was eventually granted a transfer to be with is wife and came to say goodbye to Chaplain Carothers. He was so excited! "Wait until you hear the best part... God has promised to heal my wife the moment I see her if I place my hands on her head and say, 'In Jesus' name be healed.'"
This should have been a wonderful testament to what Carothers was always trying to preach. Instead, he felt doubt regarding the man's eagerness and even after that doubt receded, he prayed, "Father, you say that if two agree on earth concerning anything we ask for, you will do it for us (Matt. 18:19). So now I agree with John that the moment he touches his wife, you will heal her." Somehow, it just irks me that he felt that the man's confidence was ill-gotten until he added his own agreement to the woman's healing. I don't feel that was necessary.
Basically, there was enough good to outweigh the bad here, especially since the issues wherein I believe Carothers sometimes thinks too highly of himself are entirely my own. Others may see it too, but that's not a reason for me to not recommend this book. It has some great Biblical references and wonderful explanations of the importance of praise. I'm only recently looking into books that discuss this, so I'm sure there are better ones out there. For now, though, this is a pretty good one to try out.