I pre-ordered this book when it first came out, but it’s been languishing in the middle of a rather large stack of books that I want to read so I hadn’t got around to it, until my vicar mentioned it as part of a sermon on prayer on Sunday and I decided that I’d move it to the top of the list.
Turns out, it was perfect reading for a rainy bank holiday and I found it really hard to put down – I ended up staying up til after midnight last night to finish it.
Split into handy sections, the book takes you through some techniques for prayer, and relates it all back to the Lord’s prayer – the way Jesus taught his disciples to pray when they asked him how they should.
I do love an acronym, and the book was split into 4 areas:
Pause: slowing and centering.
Rejoice: adoration and thanksgiving.
Ask: petition, intercession and perseverance.
Yield: contemplation, listening, confession and spiritual warfare.
“When you pray about the small things in life, you get to live with greater gratitude.”
The book was eye-opening for me in a manner of ways, some things that I should have noticed before, but some that I have never thought of. For example the practice of stilling yourself before prayer doesn’t have to involve sitting down in a quiet space – you can also still your mind in activity, like going for a walk or a cycle and allowing your mind to be stilled through being active.
“After decades of night-and-day prayer, I have come to believe that 99 per cent of it is just showing up, making the effort to become consciously present to the God who is constantly present to us.”
Prayer doesn’t always have to be you talking at God, just being in his presence and listening for what he has to say to you is enough. Sometimes just reading the Bible and meditating on what you are reading is a form of prayer, where God can talk to you in profound ways.
“One of the reasons that it’s important to spend time regularly in the Bible, and especially to memorise verses of Scripture, is that it sharpens your sword. When God speaks to you through his word, it’s not just to bring solace to your soul and light to your path, but to arm you with the truth you desperately need for the fight of your life.”
One of the parts of the book that stood out to me most was this part about suffering and prayers that seem to be unanswered. It’s something that we talked about recently in my church Life Group, and I felt that this summed it up really well:
“Life sometimes hurts like hell but I’ve discovered that deleting God from the equation doesn’t actually help. It merely removes all meaning and morality from the mess, and all real hope from the future. And so I’m sort of stuck with God, even when I don’t understand him. Even when I don’t completely like him. Turns out he is all I’ve got. And maybe this is where hallowing actually begins.”
I think it all boils down to this:
“The one who numbers every hair on our heads and stores every tear that we cry, also remembers every prayer that we pray. This is a mind-blowing truth.”
Keep it simple.
Keep it real.
Keep it up
Without giving away the whole book, I think I should probably stop here, but I would really recommend this book to anyone looking to start or kick-start a prayer habit.