Prayer is one of the most powerful spiritual disciplines we can practice. It is hard to imagine that we serve a holy and righteous God who not only allows us to pray but actually calls us to pray. We have the ability to dialogue with our Heavenly Father and do so with confidence (Hebrews 4:16).
The New Testament letters (Epistles) written by the Apostle Paul provide a model for prayer. He is fairly consistent in each one as he prays for others, for their Godly mission and for his personals needs he asks for prayer. Several months ago I preached a two part sermon on the Prayers of Paul. (Part 1 — Part 2 ) It is a topic that impacted how I pray. I was glad when I finally found the time to read D.A. Carson’s book, A Call to Spiritual Reformation: Praying with Paul. In his book he expounds on several details Paul teaches us about prayer that I had missed.
“We will not grow in prayer unless we plan to pray. That means we must self-consciously set aside time to do nothing but pray. What we actually do reflects our highest priorities.” – D.A. Carson
Dr. Carson is the Research Professor of the New Testament at Trinity Evangelical Divinity School. Unlike many professor authors Carson has produced an easy to read yet rich work. In just 204 pages, using Paul as the model, he is able to present the full scope of prayer for anyone new to prayer or the more passionate and seasoned intercessor.
The first chapter, The School of Prayer, is a very practical chapter on making prayer a priority, dealing with distraction and other hindrances, how to choose a solid prayer model and creating lists to pray for. In some of his other chapters, using references from Paul’s Epistles, Carson covers a prayer framework, praying for others, praying for power, and praying to a sovereign and personal God.
“To what extent do I pray for excellent things, thing judged excellent in God’s eyes, both for myself and for those around me? Do I pray that my love may abound more and more in knowledge and depth of insight, so that I can distinguish between what is passable, and what is excellent… and approving what is best for my own life…? Do I pray this for my church?” – D.A. Carson.
Dr. Carson has provided an excellent study tool on prayer. Each chapter ends with a set of questions to encourage deeper thought and continued study. Praying With Paul is a great resource for both individual or group study. It is a resource I will keep close for reference as I seek to improve my own prayer life. I will go as far to say that regarding prayer, it is a must read.
What books on prayer have strengthened your prayer life?