In a previous post I mention a book called The Lost art of Praying Together by James Banks. I didn’t have a copy of the book but was hoping to obtain one, as I share similar concerns that praying together has become a lost art. Since then I received one. Thank you James Banks and Discovery House Publishers.
I love to read and I’m a fast reader, and had to force myself to slow down while reading this book. If you read it too fast, you’ll miss some of the practical ways to apply what you are learning. This book is highly readable and written for your everyday Christian to read and apply to their life. It is a good blend of thoughts about prayer from the Scriptures and Christian history, along with practical ideas and insights to build your personal and corporate prayer life – with the primary focus on Christians praying together. The author is concerned that Christians are neglecting to pray together. I share the same concern, and it has actually been several years since I have prayed with other believers.
This author has a passion for prayer, and I could “feel” it as I read the book! Great emphasis is placed on the power of prayer, and it was through a foundation of corporate prayer that many revivals of Christian history took place. In the opening chapters I got a little nervous, because I almost got the insinuation that God’s hands are tied if we don’t pray. There seemed a little too much emphasis on the human side of the issue.
However, as I continued reading the book the author balanced this out. For instance, it is also emphasized that prayer helps us focus on God and realize our dependence on Him. Prayer is ultimately about God’s purposes for this world, and not about “getting what we want.” He even quotes John Piper, noting that even though God’s plans can not fail, that our prayers are the means God uses to bring His plans to pass.
Some Many people are nervous about praying out loud with others. That would include me. I used to be very uncomfortable praying out loud, but then through ministry experience I was forced to do it. Eventually I gained confidence and became better at praying with others. But the last several years I’ve done almost no praying with others, and feel like I am back at square one. Sigh.
But that is another reason I so appreciated this book. At the end of each chapter is a “prayer confidence builder.” The author has you take little baby steps forward to slowly help you start to pray out loud and get better at it. Indeed, prayer is something we learn. The disciples asked Jesus to teach them to pray. This should encourage us, because if we aren’t so good at prayer, that’s okay! It is a learning process.
I think another reason some people avoid group prayer is that they have seen it “gone bad” or not appropriately organized. In this regard, the book also offers practical ideas for organizing group prayer. For example, appendix 4 at the back of the book has 6 ideas for helping a group of people learn to pray together.
One point is that ample time be spent praying, and not talking. Yes, we need some discussion about prayer but the main point is to PRAY. (I was recently in a small group that never prayed because the leaders said it would take “too much time.” I think they’d been a part of “prayer times” that dragged on due to excessive talking.) This book has many helpful ideas for having effective prayer times and avoiding some of the pitfalls.
Overall, I highly recommend this book.
If you’d like to pray with others but feel incompetent, this book is for you.
If you do pray with others, but it seems unorganized or ineffective, this book is for you.
If you don’t think prayer is all that important, this book will help you see the important role of prayer.
“Prayer with others is an opportunity that is not to be missed.”