I confess that this past week has kept me from being prepared for this week’s post on prayer, though not in the practice of it. After a busy few weeks my body finally caught up with my schedule and said it is time for a break. The flu arrived on my doorstep and this time it was me who took to the bed. Though I considered what I could share with you this week, my ‘planned’ contribution is going to be shelved for another day so that I can expound on a few of my favorite books/authors that have been my greatest teachers on the subject of prayer.
There is great depth in the topic of prayer. Truthfully, I feel unqualified to share any real lessons with you regarding my own journey in prayer, simply because it is such a personal and intimate aspect of our faith walk. I can tell you, however, that the most most important part of of prayer is PRAY! We just NEED to do it! Let go of your own inadequacies, inhibitions, and fears regarding prayer, and come to the throne of grace seeking His hand of mercy in every area of your life. Philippians 4:6-7 give us ample wisdom concerning the act of prayer in our lives.
Do not fret or have any anxiety about anything, but in every circumstance and in everything, by prayer and petition ( definite requests), with thanksgiving, continue to make your wants known to God.
And God’s peace [shall be yours, that tranquil state of a soul assured of its salvation through Christ, and so fearing nothing from God and being content with its earthly lot of whatever sort that is, that peace] which transcends all understanding shall garrison and mount guard over your hearts and minds in Christ Jesus.
Philippians 4:67 Amplified Version
In every circumstance, no matter what it has been, in my life, the Word of God and prayer have been the cornerstones of my faith. Truly, I can’t have one without the other. As I mentioned, in previous posts, without faith it is impossible to please God, ( Heb 11:6) and without knowing His Word I can’t have a deep abiding faith, ( Rom 10:17) and Faith is the substance of all things that I hope for and expect. ( Heb 11:1) Yet, this is all found in the person of Christ, our Savior, who meets our needs in abundance and with His gracious mercy.
Prayer is a Hallowed Journey
I have rallied and railed. I have petitioned and pleaded. I have begged and bulleted a litany of lists. Yet, in the end, it is the general awareness that I must come to the place of prayer as a hallowed and blessed journey where I never leave the same. I have never left unchanged. I have been peeled back to the bare tender surface, like an onion skin, exposed and tried. At the prayer bench I am refined and my faith is fueled to believe for more than I could dare hope to trust God for. I am encouraged and lifted up by the presence of the Almighty as I unwind my veil and pour out mere words, seeking His present in my reality.
His presence, even a second of it, in my life has enough power to alter it for eternity, and it holds the same promise for you.
- The first week I suggested seeing The Praying Life as a lifestyle that fits you everyday.
- The second week I asked you to just Come to the Door of Prayer.
This week I want to encourage you to continue finding those prayers He has given us in His Word but to also read from the hearts of the faithful warriors who have trudged the path and blazed the torch which lights the way for those of us who follow.
A few of my favorite authors that I want to share this week are:
Andrew Murray, E M Bounds, Smith Wigglesworth, Stormie Omartian,R C Sproul, Reese Howells* and Paul Miller.
By far, if I was to pick a favorite Andrew Murray would be my top. Some of the books frequented on my bookshelf are :
With Christ in the School of Prayer
The Ministry of Intercession
Standing in the Gap
In the preface of the first book mentioned, With Christ in the School of Prayer, above Murray writes:
” The place and the power of prayer in the Christian life is too little understood. As long as we view prayer simply as a means of maintaining our own Christian lives, we will not fully understand what it is really supposed to be. But when we learn to regard it as the highest part of the work entrusted to us – the root and strength of all other work – we will see that there is nothing we need to study and practice more than the art of praying.”
He goes on to say that …” (prayer) is the secret to the power of life, for ourselves, the Church, and the world.” Murray likens it to a garment that each of us must consciously put on daily, so that we can enter into all that He has for us, but even more, all He has for this hurting and dying world.
His book, The Ministry of Intercession, continues with the concepts he laid out in the School of Prayer, but he expounds on the facet of our belief ( or lack there of) and our place of abiding.
- Using Mark 11:24 – Therefore I say unto you, what things soever you desire, when you pray, believe that you receive them, and you shall have them.
- And John 15:7 and 16:23 – If you abide in me and my words abide in you, you shall ask what you will, and it shall be done unto you…. Verily, verily , I say unto you, Whatsoever you shall ask the Father in my name he will give it you.
He declares these ” 2 great prayer promises as universal and unchangeable conditions of the life which is abiding in Christ and filled with His Spirit. ” ( TheMinistry of Intercession)
E M Bounds is a patriarch of prayer whose anthems have been scoured by countless pilgrims on the road to the praying life. One of the first books I purchased on prayer, at the suggestion of my dear Pastor many years ago, was The Complete Works of E M Bounds on Prayer. This volume contaned 8 books on the topic of Prayer. For a brand new Christian, it was certainly no light read. Often called the “Prophet of Prayer”, his thoughts on prayer are reflected in in the opening pages of this book:
“Nothing distinguishes the children of God so clearly and strongly as prayer. It is the one infallible mark and test of being a Christian. Christian people are prayerful, the worldly-minded, prayerless. Christians call on God; worldlings ignore God, and call not on his name. Prayer is the expression of a relation to God, a yearning for divine communion. It is the outward and upward flow of the inward life toward its original fountain. It is an assertion of the soul’s paternity, a claiming of the sonship which links man to the eternal.” ( The Complete Works of E M Bounds on Prayer)
One final book I want to make mention of today, which has been perhaps my most ‘recent’ new read on prayer is a sweet gem by Paul Miller called, ” A Praying Life: Connecting with God in a Distracting World.” It has become a special gift to me since it was loaned to me as a suggested read by a dear friend, and then because I loved it so.. she decided I should just keep it. ( Don’t you just LOVE friends like that?)
I think that initially what I loved about this book was the sincerity and transparity of this man’s heart towards, me , the reader and about His own prayer life and the direction God took him. Of course, it was an added benefit when I began reading about the challenges he and his wife faced having a child with special needs and the way the Lord took that situation to increase their faith.
He had a way of making the concept of keeping track of your prayers so easy, which I will share in an upcoming installment on this series of prayer, by making note cards. However, it was the raw transparency which drew my heart in and made me really consider how I approach prayer. What I love about this book was the fact that it isn’t just a ‘how-to’ on prayer, it was actually that book ‘I’ wanted to write on prayer. It was so easy to read and digest because it was clearly written to my heart(and yours). The narrative style revealed a life that lived and wrestled with prayer, and is still in the process of being refined, just like my own.
Here are a few of my favorite quotes from his book, A Praying Life.
- ” Most of our prayers are answered in the larger context of the story God is weaving.”
- “Seize the day and the day will break you. Seize the corner of His garment and don’t let go until He blesses you. He will reshape your day.”
- Through prayer… ” The Divine Artist is sketching the character of His Son on your heart.”
Two other men in the history of faith which have encouraged me, as I pursue a life of prayer, through their own intercessory lives were: Smith Wigglesworth and Reese Howells. I have included a link to a biography page for Reese Howells below which includes a pdf download of the biography by Norman Grubb. This is one of those books that you need to actually buy and read every now and again to get the fire ignited in your praying heart. The lives and faith apparent in both of these men often leave me feeling quite shallow and worldly. I encourage you to read up on them and consider the lessons and legacies they left behind for us to reap.
AsI look over my treasured volumes of all I want to share with you, I really could go on and on, but I won’t. I DO want to encourage you to get yourself a great inspirational read that will spark a fire in your prayer life and get you excited for the change that you will see coming when you commit to a life of prayer and pursuit of God’s heart and will for you.
What is your favorite book on Prayer? Please share a response in the comment section.
Praying you are encouraged and inspired to miss the detours in your prayer life and take the road of refinement.
~Blessings and Prayer,
For those of you who like lists, below is a list of some of my favorite books on prayer:
- The Complete Works of E M Bounds
- With Christ in the School of Prayer ( A. Murray)
- The Ministry of Intercession ( A. Murray)
- Standing in the Gap ( A. Murray)
- The Valley of Vision : A Collection of Puritan prayers and Devotions
- The Power of a Praying …. ( Series) by Stormie Omartian
- How To Pray: The Best of John Wesley on Prayer
- How to Pray with Passion and Power by Tommey Tenney
- Unrelenting Prayer by Bob Sorge
- A Praying Life by Paul Miller
- Reese Howells Intercessor by Norman Grubb*(Free download of this book available here)
Linking up with Jen at the SDG Party.