Surely, for a life of growth in the grace and knowledge of the Lord Jesus Christ, nothing can take the place of reading God’s Word and spending time in original, heartfelt prayer. Let me go on record as having said that right at the beginning. And I believe that with all my heart.
But following closely, at least for me, are the prayers, reflections, sermons, meditations, and other writings of saints who have walked oft and closely with the Lord…those who were saturated in his Word and who practiced his presence each day – all day – in every sphere of their lives. Such people minister to my soul in deep and profound ways.
Therefore, I unapologetically sponge off of others during my devotional time each morning and evening. This doesn’t mean I don’t read Scripture for myself. I do. And this doesn’t mean I don’t lift to the Lord my own prayers. I do that as well. But I have found my Scripture-reading and prayer life greatly blessed and enhanced by reading the God-centered, Scripture-directed thoughts, reflections, meditations, and prayers of others.
My prayer and thought-life are expanded well beyond my personal limitations when I read such devotional resources. In fact, I often find myself stopping in mid-sentence of someone else’s prayer…so I may lift my own prayer to the Lord. So too, sometimes when I read a verse or two of Scripture in a meditation, I can’t help but pause and pray that text back to God. Such is how the Holy Spirit uses these resources in my life.
It would be the height of arrogance and folly not to take advantage of other pilgrims of the Way – wiser and godlier saints – those who have gone before us as well as those who travel with us today. I know I have been immeasurably edified by the Holy Spirit through their written testimonies of God’s power and grace.
For example, if I hadn’t used other devotional resources this morning, I would have missed out on the following…
“…Grant us, in all our doubts and uncertainties, the grace to ask what thou wouldest have us do, that the Spirit of Wisdom may save us from all false choices, and that in thy light we may see light, and in thy straight path may not stumble; through Jesus Christ our Lord.”
“…Jesus Christ said, ‘When thou doest alms, let not thy left hand know what they right hand doeth.’ O God, grant that what I give may be given without self-congratulation, and without thought of praise or reward.”
“…Jesus Christ said, ‘What is a man profited, if he shall gain the whole world, and lose his own soul?’ O God, give me grace so to live this day that, whatever else I lose, I may not lose my soul.”
“…Every morning I vow to love thee more fervently, to serve thee more sincerely, to be more devoted in my life, to be wholly thine; Yet I soon stumble, backslide, and have to soon confess my weakness, misery and sin. But I bless thee that the finished work of Jesus needs no addition from my doings, that his oblation is sufficient satisfaction for my sins.”
These thoughts, (and many others), have lifted my soul and led me to think and pray about quite a few things I probably wouldn’t have otherwise thought and prayed about. Such resources help move me from the tunnel-vision of my own limited, self-centered short-sightedness. They help me stay away from an exclusively "laundry-list prayer life" (i.e., a superficial “give-me-this-and-give-me-that” prayer list).
The last thing I would mention is that using such resources keeps my devotional time fresh. Without such tools, my prayer life could quickly grow stale, rote, and lifeless. But in and through his Word and prayer, as well as these other resources, God draws me closer to himself and enables me to become more like the man he created, redeemed, and called me to be. And that’s worth everything.
On that note, I post a "prayer journal" on Monday mornings to help you in your own prayer life. You can take a look at previous ones here. I've also recently started working on another devotional resource, which you can check out here.
Grace and Truth,
Almighty God, Father of all mercies, we, thine unworthy servants, do give thee most humble and hearty thanks for all thy goodness and loving-kindness to us, and to all men. We bless thee for our creation, preservation, and all the blessings of this life; but above all, for thine inestimable love in the redemption of the world by our Lord Jesus Christ; for the means of grace, and for the hope of glory.
And, we beseech thee, give us that due sense of all thy mercies, that our hearts may be unfeignedly thankful; and that we show forth thy praise, not only with our lips, but in our lives, by giving up ourselves to thy service, and by walking before thee in holiness and righteousness all our days; through Jesus Christ our Lord, to whom, with thee and the Holy Ghost, be all honour and glory, world without end. Amen.
by Edward Reynolds (1662)
O merciful God, who hast made all men, and hatest nothing that thou has made, nor desirest the death of a sinner, but rather that he should be converted and live; Have mercy upon all who know thee not as thou art revealed in the Gospel of thy Son. Take from them all ignorance, hardness of heart, and contempt of thy Word; and so fetch them home, blessed Lord, to thy fold, that they may be made one flock under one shepherd, Jesus Christ our Lord, who liveth and reigneth with thee and the Holy Spirit, one God, world without end. Amen.
O most merciful Saviour, who willest that all men should be saved; be present with those who are gone forth in thy Name to preach the Gospel in distant lands, especially Southside UMC’s mission team to Guatemala. Be with them in all perils, in sickness and distress, in weariness, in disappointment. Give them sure confidence in thee. Pour out upon them abundantly thy Holy Spirit, and prosper mightily the work of their hands; send unto them faithful and true fellow-laborers. Give them a rich increase there, and grant that hereafter they may dwell with thee in the heavenly places, world without end. Amen.
Taken from The Pastor’s Prayerbook, edited by Robert Rodenmayer, 1960
Almighty God, who hast given us this good land for our heritage; We humbly beseech thee that we may always prove ourselves a people mindful of thy favor and glad to do thy will. Bless our land with honorable industry, sound learning, and pure manners. Save us from violence, discord, and confusion; from pride and arrogancy, and from every evil way. Defend our liberties, and fashion into one united people the multitudes brought hither out of many kindreds and tongues. Endue with the spirit of wisdom those to whom in thy Name we entrust the authority of government, that there may be justice and peace at home, and that, through obedience to thy law, we may show forth thy praise among the nations of the earth. In the time of prosperity, fill our hearts with thankfulness, and in the day of trouble, suffer not our trust in thee to fail; all which we ask through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.
A prayer by George Lyman Locke
The Heidelberg Catechism: Lord's Day 48
123. Question: What is the second petition?
Answer: Thy kingdom come. That is: So rule us by Thy Word and Spirit that more and more we submit to Thee. Preserve and increase Thy church. Destroy the works of the devil, every power that raises itself against Thee, and every conspiracy against Thy holy Word. Do all this until the fullness of Thy kingdom comes, wherein Thou shalt be all in all.
 Ps. 119:5, 105; 143:10; Matt. 6:33.  Ps. 51:18; 122:6-9; Matt. 16:18; Acts 2:42-47.  Rom. 16:20; I John 3:8.  Rom. 8:22, 23; I Cor. 15:28; Rev. 22: 17, 20.
A friend recently asked me to suggest a good book or two on prayer. I decided it might be worth a blog post with a few thoughts on the subject sprinkled about.
This list is by no means comprehensive. It's not necessarily the best list. But it's a list of books on prayer and books of prayers... all for the purpose of serving as books for prayer... that have helped me a great deal.
This first list is primarily books of prayers. I once heard Peter Kreeft say the prayers of those who have gone before us can be very useful to our own prayer lives. I know I have found that to be particularly true in my own prayer life. I have a number of books, filled with prayers, that I read regularly. Like anything else, it would be easy to read these prayers only in a rote fashion and gain nothing from them. However, I usually pray before I read these prayers asking the Lord to make them my very own. Furthermore, I often use these written prayers of others as "jumping off" places for my own prayers. Consequently, very often I will wander from the prayer I'm reading as I feel the Spirit move me to pray my own thoughts and words.
I heartily encourage getting a few books of prayers. Besides what I've already said, they can be very devotional in their own right. Moreover, they can also serve in teaching us how to pray more comprehensively and richly than we usually do when left to ourselves. I don't know about you, but if I'm not really "tuning in" to God during my times of prayer, my prayers can become (and often do become) very self-centered and one dimensional. These books of prayers by blessed saints who have gone before me do much to keep me focused and moving in the right direction.
So here's the first list. Some of these books are out of print, but I think many, if not most, can be found at Christianbook.com or Amazon.
1.) A Diary of Private Prayer by John Baillie (I have used this one the longest and most consistently. Love it.)
2.) Handbook to Prayer by Ken Boa (I use this one often and have purchased a number of copies for others. It's not really a book of prayers as much as organized prayer prompts based on Scripture. Very good.)
3.) The Valley of Vision, edited by Arthur Bennett (Next to Baillie's above, I have used this one for many years.)
4.) Lutheran Book of Prayer, 1951 edition
5.) The Methodist Book of Worship for Church and Home, 1965
6.) The United Methodist Book of Worship
7.) The Pastor's Prayerbook, 1960; edited by Robert N. Rodenmayer
8.) A Barclay Prayer Book by William Barclay
9.) The Prayers of Peter Marshall, 1954
Again, this isn't a comprehensive list I use, but it is a list of ones I use most often.
This next list contains books about prayer. They range from books focusing on a "theology of prayer" to more practical "how to" books. Both have been helpful to me. Let me say once more that this isn't the definitive list of books on prayer. The number of books about prayer seems to be endless. These are just a few I have used often.
1.) The Art of Prayer by Timothy Jones
2.) The Power of Personal Prayer by Jonathan Graf
3.) The Hour That Changes the World by Dick Eastman (a very "how to" book)
4.) The Struggle of Prayer by Donald Bloesch
5.) A Praying Life by Paul Miller
6.) Hearing God by Dallas Willard
7.) The Cry for the Kingdom by Stanley Grenz
8.) Taking Hold of God, edited by Joel Beeke and Brian Najapfour
9.) Prayer with Your Eyes Open by Richard Pratt
10.) The God Who Hears by W. Bingham Hunter
11.) Praying: Finding Our Way Through Duty to Delight by J.I. Packer and Carolyn Nystrom
12.) Prayer: The Great Conversation by Peter Kreeft
13.) Did You Think to Pray? by R.T. Kendall
14.) The Papa Prayer by Larry Crabb
15.) Prayer & Devotional Life of United Methodists by Steve Harper
16.) And the Place was Shaken by John Franklin
17. Talking with God by Mack Stokes
This last list contains books on prayer that will unnerve you and make you hit your head with the palm of your hand, as you ask yourself why you don't pray more often, longer, and more intensely. These are books that are devotional in nature and draw you closer to your heavenly Father as they simultaneously convict you of laziness and apathy (and maybe even unbelief) on your part. I read these with fear and trembling... but I read them because they do me good.
1.) The E.M. Bounds Collection (you can't beat this price)
* The Necessity of Prayer
* The Essentials of Prayer
* The Possibilities of Prayer
* The Reality of Payer
* The Purpose of Prayer
* The Weapon of Prayer
* Power Through Prayer
* Prayer and Praying Men
2.) The Andrew Murray Collection
* Abide in Christ
* The Prayer Life
* Waiting on God
* With Christ in the School of Prayer
* The Ministry of Intercession
* The Secret of Intercession
3.) The Power of Prayer by R.A. Torrey
4.) How to Pray by R.A. Torrey
5.) Revival Praying by Leonard Ravenhill
I hope this list is helpful. I hasten to add at the end of this post that I have long heard the adage: "If you want to learn how to pray... pray." I think that's sound counsel. Yet, there's nothing wrong and everything right with wanting to grow in prayer and go deeper in prayer through learning more about it.
PS - Of course, the best book on prayer is Scripture and hopefully that's already part of your devotional diet.
The Lord bless you,