Given a chance to come up with a reading list for every Christian believer, Gordon MacDonald’s masterpiece, Ordering Your Private World, would top the list. It is one of the books that need to be present in every Christian home library.
The book, first published in 1984 by the Moody Press, addresses the key issues most of us struggle with in our Christian life. Gordon suggests simple and achievable ways of ensuring that our private life, where worship and confession is conducted, is in kept in order.
Gordon, throughout this book that he divides in five sectors, seems to be in a mission to show us on how to guard our hearts because in it flow springs of life.
He opens the book by giving a personal story of how he ‘hit the wall’ and saw the need to renovate his life. In the opening chapters, Gordon warns us that when private world is neglected, it does not shout so loudly. In contrast, neglected public world will scream for our attention and action.
In the subsequent chapters, Gordon succeeds in comparing a driven and a called person. He notes that a driven person moves too fast and thus needs to get time to stop and let the soul catch up with the body.
In a thought-provoking way, he notes that called people are ordinary people. He calls the reader to explore all the disciples of Jesus. They all appeared to be absolutely ordinary. Interestingly, he compares John Baptist, the man who lost his job, and compares him with the driven King Saul. The author calls us to make a choice everyday if we want to be a John or a Saul?
On use of time, Gordon gives an example of Jesus. No time we see him hurrying to catch up or were ever taken by surprise. He managed adequate amounts of time to be alone, for meditation and prayer, and to be with his disciples. Gordon cautions that disorganized Christians rarely enjoy intimacy with God.
The author challenges us on study and thinking. Gordon says that we grow through reading, becoming listeners and through disciplined study. “We fool ourselves in to thinking we are thinking people when we are not,” Gordon notes. We are reminded that a Christian who is not growing intellectually is like a book whose pages remained unopened and unread.
In a chapter, Order in the Garden, Gordon narrates a story of Howard Rutledge, a United States Air Force Pilot, who it took prison to show him how empty life is without God.
In a stimulating Chapter, No Outer Props, we are introduced to a Methodist missionary to India and got stroke leaving him immobile but this never worried him. He said, “I need no outer props to hold up my faith for my faith holds me. When outer strands are broken, the inner strands hold me.”
The author in the concluding chapters stresses that silence and solitude, listening to God and praying are spiritual disciplines of importance to every Christian. He explains that prayer involves referring the smallest actions to God. He adds that prayer aligns us with God’s purposes than asking Him to align with ours.
In addition, Gordon urges his audience to keep prayer lists to review chief concerns as they pray. He emphasizes the need for adoration and confession underscoring the need for us to recognize our own sinfulness.
The author encourages journal keeping as a way to listen to God. He says, “Many have learned how to talk to God but have not learnt how to listen.” In conclusion, Gordon urges the reader to choose rest. He uses example of Jesus who often withdrew to seek solitude.
This is a must read book for all. I highly recommend it to all Christians and especially those involved in one way or the other in Christian ministry. We all need to make a deliberate decision in starting the ordering process now!
Kenneth Irungu is an Apprentice with iServe Africa serving at DOVE Christian Fellowship Kawangware.
Passionate of Faithful Bible Teaching and preaching the Gospel.