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  • Writer's pictureAnn Skalaski

Summer Reading

Freedom Tools by Andy Reese and Jennifer Barnett

By Chris

For the next two months, Ann, Maddie & I have decided to share with you a few of our favorite books. Because we all love to read, it will be hard to choose exactly which ones to pull to the front of our bookshelves and say, “this is a must-read!” So please know that our choices are just a few out of hundreds that we could recommend!

Reading has always been one of my favorite activities. When I was young, I rarely went anywhere without a book. I still remember fondly that my Aunt Chris would take me shopping every year for my birthday. She would take me to the nicest department stores in the mall, including one my mom and I rarely went to because the clothes were too expensive. But the best part about this particular store was that it always stocked the latest Nancy Drew books. Aunt Chris would indulge me and let me add a book to our choice of a new outfit for a “proper, young lady”.

My reading diet has evolved over the years, from mysteries, to thrillers and suspense novels, and now I mostly read non-fiction, faith-based books.

When we began homeschooling, I also discovered a love for historical fiction. It quickly became one of my favorite genres. A well-researched historical fiction novel can transport you to a time and give you a picture of events, a perspective that you had not considered before. In his famous poem, Don Juan, Lord Byron wrote:

But words are things, and a small drop of ink, Falling like dew, upon a thought, produces That which makes thousands, perhaps millions, think

This beautifully describes why I love to read: it is a portal to thinking. Whether a book spawns new thoughts in me, like Just Mercy by Brian Stevenson did, or a book reframes my old thoughts regarding a subject, like Total Forgiveness by R.T. Kendall, I love being challenged to think deeply. Books that challenge me to contemplate God and His desires for us are the ones that are currently at the front of my bookshelf.

Freedom Tools is definitely one of those books!

The official title explains that this is really a manual, a how-to book. It reveals how to pray and to listen to God in ways I had never experienced before. Freedom Tools provides the framework for the Freedom Prayer ministry. To be honest, I doubt that I would have ever picked it up if I had not had my own Freedom Prayer session first. But after that amazing encounter with Jesus, I just had to learn more.

The book is divided into 4 sections; the first one, the Ten Foundations, thoroughly describes the core scriptural beliefs that undergird the entire Freedom Prayer process. These foundations are vital to using the tools presented later in the book and in ministry. I have reread this section several times over the past 2 years and can with confidence say that they hold up under the scrutiny and practice of Freedom Prayer sessions. Adhering to these foundations in a prayer time ensures that it is a safe and honoring and productive prayer session every single time.

The second section called Getting Started is where the actual process of a Freedom Prayer session is presented. In this section, readers learn how to identify and frame the presenting issue and what to do about it in a prayer session. This section explains the funny, but memorable, acronyms that Freedom Prayer team members refer to, like WESUD, the Fruit Loop, and DKB or Doing Kingdom Business. The real benefit of this section is that it is filled with sample questions and statements that help you know what to say in prayer. Even though one of the most distinguishing aspects of Freedom prayer is a commitment to follow God’s leading in every prayer session rather than a checklist, it is so very practical to have words to help you ask questions or make declarations.

The third section, More Advanced Tools chapters 9-12, is perhaps my favorite for two simple reasons. First, as I have learned how to use the freedom tools in Freedom Prayer ministry, I find that the explanations in this section are key to really understanding and helping the more complicated life issues. And secondly, I use them all the time!

For example, as I learned about the “Father Ladder,” I could now easily begin to identify where and why a person might be struggling in their relationship with the Lord. “Inviting Jesus” is a very practical approach which I learned is often the solution to unlocking the healing that has eluded so many Christians in their faith journeys. Inviting Jesus into any situation changes it completely. Specifically inviting Him to give you His perspective on a past trauma or hurt can release years of pain in just a few moments. Even as I am writing this, tears are starting to flow as I remember with joy, how Jesus has healed my own heart simply because I invited Him to show me where He was and what He thought about a past painful event. He is so good! And, He has done this time and time again in Freedom Prayer sessions that I have the privilege of helping with.

Finally, the book wraps up with a section called, Application in Church and Life. I confess I just finished reading this section for the first time recently, though I’ve had the book for over 2 years. This part of the book is filled with real examples of how incorporating Freedom Prayer into the church can lead to lasting transformation. AND how adopting Freedom Prayer as a lifestyle impacts every relationship in your life, making them not only stronger, but holy.

I have personally benefitted from incorporating these tools into my personal prayer times. But what is even better is that I have been able to share it with so many others. I finally feel like I can actually do something helpful for people who hurting. What a blessing it is to be equipped to offer help and hope through Jesus to one another.

While this book is an incredible read, I have also gone through the actual Freedom Prayer training session. Additionally, I have had several of my own Freedom Prayer sessions. I shared about one of them in a previous blog post. Experiencing your own personal Freedom Prayer session is honestly the best way to understand how the concepts in this book work.

And they do work. I want everyone around me to walk in Freedom, too; to have the tools to recognize when and where they are stuck and know what to do about it. But what a joy it is to be able to help one another walk free from sin and shame, from hurts and disappointments, from traps and strongholds, from unforgiveness and bitterness. As my Freedom Prayer friend, Erin likes to say -it is fulfilling the command that Jesus gave when He raised Lazarus from the dead, “Take off his grave clothes and let him go!” (John 8:44) We all need help getting untied and unbound occasionally. What a blessing it is to be able to do this for one another. Freedom Tools is the book that shows us how.

Please let me know if you read it. I would love to talk with you about it!

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