Fresh Wind, Fresh Fire


Cymbala reveals a secret: the church is first and foremost a house of prayer, he says, a place where souls can call on God. Cymbala tells not his church’s story as much as the stories of individual souls whose salvation illustrates the truth that God responds to prayer made in repentance and faith. Cymbala considers his work part of the revivalist tradition. A needed read to remind us of the spirituality of ministry.

Key Topics or Truths

Corporate Prayer
The definition of Church

This Book is Good For...

This book is good for people who do not yet understand the power of prayer.

How I Use this Book to make disciples

This is a disruptor, eye-opening, inspirational read. I use it to reaffirm the power of prayer and as an example of how believers changed their community and reached many for Christ simply by praying. I quietly challenge statements that do not have a clear defense in the Bible. Fresh Wind, Fresh Fire offers inspiration of the power and necessity of prayer in our lives while offering opportunities to further the disciples’ critical thinking skills. I always remind disciples, “Exposure to other practices is beneficial.” Comparing others’ experiences and understandings to scripture is useful. We do not know what we do not know and we learn by exposure to the experiences of others. One of the greatest dangers of modern discipleship is the isolation of learning in the context of the disciple maker. We are not supposed to make disciples like us. We are supposed to make followers of God. It is likely that some of our traditions and understandings are not entirely Biblically supportable as well.

I love this book because it casts a renewed vision for the power of corporate prayer as ministry. I love the powerful stories of the results of prayer in Cymbala’s church. It is inspiring!

Real Life Story

A group of elders at our church read this book when it was first published. It challenged them to believe that God “could.” Their faith and prayers changed as they were inspired that God could move miraculously through prayer in accordance with His teaching in the Bible. In other words, miracles were not just for the first-century believers. Shortly after the elders read the book, Zach, a young boy, asked them to pray that he would be healed. Zach, who had an inoperable brain tumor, had read “Let the sick ask the elders to pray for them and they will be healed.” He opened his Bible and read the verse to the elders and asked them to anoint him with oil and pray for his healing. What an incredible stretch for these men who had been raised as Baptists! They looked at each other, reminded each other of Fresh Wind, embraced the verse and prayed. Zach was healed in that moment. Was it his faith? Was it theirs? We may never know but I know that without this book their prayers would have been less confident prayers.

Know Issues or Controversies

Some reviewers have pushed back on the connections to the Azuza Street Revival and the beginnings of Pentecostal doctrines regarding the Holy Spirit. Their comments are true as some people wrongly claim that a visible demonstration of the Spirit is required to affirm salvation. As with any movement or denomination, theological problems arise when we try to extend what God might do in a moment to what God always does.

The book has some charismatic leanings but the baby should not be thrown out with the bathwater. We need not fear the Spirit. Though some reviews push back on the idea that the Spirit speaks to believers in their spirit, the Bible is clear that the Holy Spirit often shows himself in power.

Cymbala, in a well-meaning push, challenges “Did God ever say, ‘My house will be called a house of preaching?” His point is that prayer is a central calling to the church. He is pushing back on spiritless prayer and, really, the total lack of prayer in churches. I often feel this way about disciple-making; however, I am not sure that Cymbala needed to pick a fight against preaching.

None of the objections or concerns are of significance in regard to understanding the Spirit’s work in prayer and the power of prayer in church and ministry. This is a necessary call back to prayer in ministry.

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Jim Cymbala
Book Details
Reading Time
One week
Related Reads

This book pairs well with How to Pray by Torrey. His work is almost too fundamental and regimented and provides a tremendous alter-ego to this text allowing a broad discussion of prayer.

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