Prayer is a discipline many of us need help with. Okay, maybe you’re doing great in your prayer life. I need a lot of help in mine. Thankfully, there are a lot of really great books out there on the subject. Here are six I’ve found particularly helpful and you might, too:
Prayer: Experiencing Awe and Intimacy with God
Tim Keller is always reliable, but this may well be my favorite of his work. As I said in my review, Prayer “is rich in its theology, winsome in its approach and wise in its application. There may be few good modern books on prayer, but Prayer is one of them—and among the finest I’ve read of any era.”
The Mighty Weakness of John Knox
True, I recommended this one when talking about biographies you and I should read, but Douglas Bond’s book on John Knox offers us an example to look to when we want to know what a life submitted to the Lord in prayer looks like. “Because of his candid acknowledgment of his great need, he sought the aid of the God of the universe, and one way he sought it was through the prayers of fellow believers.”
Memoirs of an Ordinary Pastor
Don Carson’s book on his father, Tom, is another powerful “pray by example” book (even if not technically a book on prayer). As I wrote elsewhere, Carson shows his father as a man who prayed as though the Lord really is sovereign—that He must intervene for the lives of his hearers to be transformed.
Praying the Bible
Donald Whitney has written one of the most practical and easy to apply books on prayer I’ve read possibly ever, and one I’m happy to commend to any Christian seeking to improve their prayer life. It’s short, simple, and an all around excellent cure for the “boring” prayer life in the spirit of A Simple Way to Pray: The Wisdom of Martin Luther on Prayer (thoughts on this book can be found here), and R.C. Sproul’s children’s book, The Barber Who Wanted to Pray (itself a child-appropriate retelling of Luther’s The Way to Pray.)
A Call to Prayer
This little book is one of the most challenging, if for no other reason than J.C. Ryle’s willingness to call out the complacency of Christians in his day (a complacency that looks familiar in ours, as well). He writes:
Can we really believe that people are praying against sin — when we see them plunging into it? Can we suppose they pray against the world — when they are entirely absorbed and taken up with its pursuits? Can we think they really ask God for grace to serve him — when they do not show the slightest interest to serve him at all?
Valley of Vision
As mentioned above, often the best way to learn to pray is by example rather than by instruction. Sometimes the best way to pray in a given moment is to pray with someone else’s prayer. That’s where the Valley of Vision, with its powerful, gospel-rich prayers, is so helpful.
What books have you found helpful for cultivating your prayer life?