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,
Christians have often truncated the scope of Christian witness one way or the other, depending on the person or group with whom you are speaking. For example, sometimes witness is understood purely in terms of evangelism and missions. Other times, bearing witness for Christ is framed exclusively in terms of social action.
Instead, the church is at her best when she views and practices her witness as a both/and… not an either/or. It’s what George Grant called in his book by the same name, The Micah Mandate (a very, very important book in my life that did much to shape me).
Bearing a faithful witness for our King and his Kingdom involves introducing folks to our King and helping them come to know him in a meaningful, transforming, personal, and saving way. Yet it also involves representing our King in the midst of the lesser kingdoms of this world. He desires to rule and reign in every sphere of life and we must go out into the highways and byways to stand for… and even fight for… his mercy, justice, and peace, according to his way of doing things. Of course, all of this is to be done with great humility, and always in the context of loving our neighbors by serving them and sharing his truth with them.
At all times we are under his authority and are not at liberty to pursue our own agendas and preferences. This means we must dig into what his Word says. The Great Commandment, Great Commission, and Cultural Mandate all require loving, serving, and obeying our King for his glory and the good of our neighbors. This is our Christian witness. It’s what I’ve elsewhere referred to as Kingdom Discipleship.
May God help us clarify our focus and strengthen our faithfulness as we seek to bear witness to and for our King.
Grace and Truth,
Here's a little information about a great ministry at the church I serve...
While I'm sharing excerpts from Packer, I thought I should also share this snippet from one of Packer's books that I have read a number of times, A Quest for Godliness. I've been listening to an audio course of Packer's lectures (from 1988) on the Puritans, and it inspired me to share this little list from Packer on why the church really does need to sit at the feet of the Puritans and learn from them. Here's a little from his list...
1.) There are lessons for us in the integration of their daily lives. As their Christianity was all-embracing, so their living was all of a piece. There was for them no disjunction between sacred and secular; all creation, so far as they were concerned, was sacred, and all activities, of whatever kind, must be sanctified, that is, done to the glory of God.
2.) There are lessons for us in the quality of their spiritual experience. In the Puritans’ communion with God, as Jesus Christ was central, so Holy Scripture was supreme.
3.) There are lessons for us in their passion for effective action. They had no time for idleness of the lazy or passive person who leaves it to others to change the world.
4.) There are lessons for us in their program for family stability. It is hardly too much to say that the Puritans created the Christian family in the English-speaking world.
5.) There are lessons to be learned from their sense of human worth. Through believing in a great God, they gained a vivid awareness of the greatness of moral issues, of eternity, and of the human soul.
6.) There are lessons to be learned from the Puritans’ ideal of church renewal. The essence of this kind of renewal (what they called “reformation”) was enrichment of understanding of God’s truth, arousal of affections Godward, increase of ardour in one’s devotions, and more love, joy, and firmness of Christian purpose in one’s calling and personal life.
A wonderful presentation on the life and ministry of J.I. Packer, in his words. I’m so grateful to God for both. Also, click here to visit the Crossway’s website on Packer.