You know those times when you are ‘surfing the net’ (remember that term?!) and you actually come across something that is useful? I know it doesn’t happen often but recently I was looking for…I can’t remember what…and came across this great talk by Scotty Smith on How to Foster a Praying Church.
As someone who is employed to do professional ministry, I see my work as something like that of the apostles. I have been set aside for the work of “ministry of the word and prayer” (Acts 6:4). I think I have spent the last few years getting the word part right, but the prayer side of things has always been my weakness. Coming back to this through Scotty’s talk was a stark reminder of that weakness.
This is not the first time I have been convicted of this. This has been a project I have been working on for a few years now. Here are a few resources that have helped. Keeping in mind, as one of the resources pointed out: “Let us not deceive ourselves into thinking reading a book on prayer actually improved our prayer lives.” But it is a start…
1. A Praying Life By Paul Miller
This is by far and away the best book I have read on prayer. It was personal, deeply so, as Miller wrestled with the prayer to help his daughter to be able to speak. But it was also deeply theological and practical.
2. Prayer by Tim Keller
As with Keller’s other books, this comes in sections. Some sections are more academic and others are more practical. To be honest you could skip the first section and not miss much. For me, the highlight was Section 3 where Keller takes us to a masterclass on prayer with Augustine, Luther, and Calvin.
3. War Room
I feel a little odd recommending a Christian fictional movie, on this list. But the bottom line is that I found the movie convicting. If a man’s role is to pray (1 Tim 2:8), then why don’t I walk into this with a plan or a strategy like I would everything else?
4. Prayer and the Voice of God by Phillip Jensen and Tony Payne
This book was not what I expected. It was a lot warmer and more delightful that Payne and Jensen’s other books. That being said, it still maintained the technical brilliance that the other books that they have written have had.
5. The Bible
So, on one hand, this is cliched. But I think the mistake I have made in the past is to focus on the sections of the Bible on prayer in an effort to improve my prayer life. This is not a bad thing to do. But recently, I have flipped that around. I now read through the Bible and have a notes section in my software dedicated to prayer. As I read each section I ask how I can I write and pray a prayer from what is said there.