Thursday, December 10, 2009

Prayer 14: general resources for learning to pray

Many have e-mailed or just asked for more help in learning to pray. Since prayer has been our ministry focus for 2009, I have (needless to say) done a fair amount of reading about it. Here are some of the books that I have found to be highly-recommendable:
  • The Heart of Prayer by Jerram Barrs: a wonderful teaching on prayer from one of the most godly men I know. It will open hearts to prayer as a welcoming and approachable activity, instead of the daunting drudgery that prayer sometimes becomes for many of us.
  • Praying Backwards by Bryan Chapell: this one will change the way you think about why we pray and how we pray. Excellent.
  • A Method for Prayer by Matthew Henry: this classic is a great guide to prayer for both the novice and the experienced. It has recently been updated in language, and the whole thing is available online.
  • The Ministry of Intercessory Prayer by Andrew Murray: if you want to learn how to pray for others in more powerful and meaningful ways, this volume is your guide and friend.
  • WIth Christ in the School of Prayer by Andrew Murray: another excellent work by Murray, who masterfully takes scriptural principles to offer a general guide to prayer for any believer at any level of spiritual maturity.
  • The Life of Prayer by Edith Schaeffer: Schaeffer's take on "learning" to pray is much more experiential than the others; she looks at life circumstances and activities and how they fit into prayer, and prayer into them. As a consequence, I find Schaeffer's book mandatory reading for Christians who would take prayer seriously.
  • Prayer: Does It Make a Difference? by Philip Yancey: this one is different from the others in that, first, it is from a popular author and written at a "popular" level; and second, it attempts to answer questions about prayer, rather than simply to teach about what prayer is and how it is conducted. I don't fully agree with all of Yancey's conclusions, and some will find this book to be to "simple" or introductory for them, while others will find its substantial length off-putting; still, I recommend it as a worthwhile read for most discerning congregants.
I would also put in a recommendation for A Praying LIfe by Paul Miller. While I haven't read this one, so many people who I trust and appreciate have recommended it to me that I feel it would be conspicuous in its absence.

Finally, I might also humbly mention that I have written a brief book, entitled For All the Saints: Praying for the Church, which will be published next year by Doulos Resources. While I shudder to think that someone might consider me experienced or expert enough to be an authority on prayer, I found the utter lack of resources on praying for the church a compelling mandate for the book-- better an average book on the subject from a mediocre pray-er than no book at all. I'll mention it again when it is available in print.

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