Book Review – Fresh Wind, Fresh Fire (Jim Cymbala)

This book tells the story of Brooklyn Tabernacle, an inner city church in New York that has grown from a handful of people to several thousands. However, the real subject of the book is prayer.

Cymbala is fiercely critical of much “church growth” thinking today. Over three quarters of church growth is actually Christians transferring from one church to another. He pleads with churches not to look for novel ideas (he particularly singles out strategic level spiritual warfare) or marketing strategies to grow, but to simply devote themselves to prayer. A large church devoid of the presence of God is worthless.

He tells of how Brooklyn Tabernacle started a weekly prayer meeting, and how this became the source of spiritual power and life for the church. He argues that the prayer meeting is the spiritual barometer of a church.

You can tell how popular a church is by who comes on Sunday morning. You can tell how popular the pastor or evangelist is by who comes on Sunday night. But you can tell how popular Jesus is by who comes to the prayer meeting.

The book is divided between amazing stories of the power of prayer and biblical teaching on prayer. Cymbala is very honest about the struggles and difficulties they faced, particularly as they sought to minister to many people struggling with drug addictions.

The Holy Spirit is the Spirit of prayer. Only when we are full of the Spirit do we feel the need for God everywhere we turn.

Those who have read any of Leonard Ravenhill’s books will recognize the style. Cymbala is a no nonsense, give me God or I die kind of person. He calls the members of his church to be passionate about prayer and radical about holiness.

What does it say about our churches today that God birthed the church in a prayer meeting, and prayer meetings today are almost extinct?

This provocative book deserves a hearing from anyone who desires to see their church grow. The only type of growth that is worth having is that which the Spirit of God brings, and we cannot expect such growth unless we birth it in passionate and persevering prayer. I didn’t agree with some of what he said about preaching (he downplayed its importance), but the reminder of the importance of prayer is a word in season for the modern church.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *