When I was asked last year by Authentic Media to write a book on prayer, I thought of all the good books on the subject and wondered, do we need another book on prayer?
The more I thought about it, the more I was convinced we do. In fact we need more books on most topics. Because culture is changing and we need books that speak in contemporary language, and resonate with the issues and the thought-processes of people today. That’s not to say that we or others can’t be helped by great classics of the past. Of course we can. I often read such books and recommend them to others. But despite this, there is a need for new books. Helpful books. Timely and prophetic books.
So my new book on prayer is called A-Z of Prayer, and it’s similar in style and feel to my A-Z of Discipleship. That means:
- the chapters are short, and can be read in about 5-6 minutes. Each one looks at a different aspect of prayer and gives some basic information. The short chapters are intentional, because many people today are drawn to books which don’t have long chapters.
- the content is simple, with no complicated theological words or concepts. It assumes no prior knowledge on the subject or of the Christian faith. That’s where many people are today, especially those who are new to following Jesus. We meet them regularly at The Belfrey in York and have much experience of communicating in this way.
- the intent is practical, so each chapter ends urging readers to do something (‘ACTION’), to pray something (‘PRAYER’), and with a book named (‘FURTHER READING’) for anyone who wants to read more on the subject.
As far as I know, there are very few books on Christian prayer in the English language at present, that are intentionally written in this way.
The goal is to help people to pray. And to learn to pray. That could be new believers, who find it hard to know where to start. But it’s also for people who’ve been following Christ for a while but who need some guidance. I come across people like that all the time. People who pray a bit but feel like they’re not very good at it, and are a bit stuck in a rut. The book gives lots of suggestions of how to pray, with each chapter naming an example of a bible character to learn from, and also describing someone today who similarly prays. There are lots of footnotes, referring to hundreds of bible verses, for those who want to follow up more and root their reading in Scripture. I’ve written it in this way to inspire prayer, and to encourage people to have a go. We’re all learning, and there’s much to discover!
So those are the main reasons behind writing the book. And actually I’m really pleased with the way it’s come out. I’m already getting good feedback from people who are reading it. I was especially touched by the encouragement of Johannes Hartl, who heads up the extraordinary Augsburg House of Prayer in Germany. At Augsburg they’re seeing many people, particularly young people from unchurched backgrounds, begin to pray, and here’s what he said about A-Z of Prayer:
‘There is only one topic the disciples asked Jesus to teach them. There are many books written on the topic of prayer but few actually do what Jesus did: teach how to pray. This book does exactly that. It is encouraging, practical and insightful. From A to Z.’
So I’m excited to see how the book impacts people and stimulates prayer – both in believers, but also in those who aren’t yet followers of Jesus. I hope that many with little or no faith may find this book in their hands, will turn to God in prayer, and taste and see that the Lord is good.
So here are the details: A-Z of Prayer is published by Authentic, and available at: eden.co.uk, at amazon.co.uk or from your local Christian bookshop. If you’re in York, you’ll find it on the bookstall in St Michael le Belfrey, York. Graphic design is by the excellent Luke Porter. The retail price is £9.99. May it help us to pray. Because I’m convinced that God hears our prayers. He loves our prayers. And he responds to our prayers. In short, nothing of lasting significance happens without prayer.
This book is a wonderful daily companion to me!
A – Z of Prayer
I sense a trend in one way the Holy Spirit is working. Instead of teachers writing tomes, or preachers giving sermons, of exhaustively referenced and detailed consideration, there is a new approach. They open the door on a topic just enough to let the Holy Spirit in to do the rest. For this is what the ‘A-Z of Discipleship’ and the ‘A-Z of Prayer’ is like, as is ‘Heart Fire’ by Johannes Hartl. Such material is sustenance for the very beginner and for the long-travelled disciple too.
For twenty years I have been led into silent prayer. At least seven of the chapters, for me, not only touched on what happens in silent prayer but fleshed it out to give it such a clear, simple and rich meaning.
At times for me, there were flashes of clarity, for example, the difference between renewal and revival succinctly explained in two sentences.
In the chapter on ‘Night Prayer’ I resonated so much with what was explained, of how the Lord is at work in our sleep too. The chapter on ‘Yearning’ explained to me that my deep hurt, even weeping, for brokenness in the Body was quite natural.
I recommend this book wholeheartedly. It speaks to rich and poor, young and old, men and women, catholics and protestants. We are in the season of the outpouring of the Holy Spirit on ALL. And this book ‘hits the spot’ as Rolland Baker would say, for one and all.