I often get people asking for suggestions regarding how they can grow in prayer. My top answer isn’t to read a certain book or create lists or retreat to a prayer closet but instead to pray up! Find someone who has been praying longer than you and ask if you can pray with them.
Honestly the best things I’ve ever learned about praying have come as I’ve been praying with those who’ve prayed longer than me. It’s amazing what you can learn about prayer as you pray with someone!
But what do you do if there isn’t someone around or available who’s been praying longer than you? That’s where books can be such a great blessing. I’m not talking about books on prayer, but actual books containing prayers!
Of course the best book containing prayers is God’s Word! Memorizing and studying the prayers in Scripture truly has been the top enrichment to my prayer life! As I pray with Jesus and Paul and David through their written prayers have I ever learned a ton I can be praying for!
Beyond God’s Word there’s also treasure to be found in other books containing prayers. Though, to be honest, initially I never really liked these kinds of books. It seemed too trite and mindless to just read through someone else’s prayers.
Then I discovered Ruth Myer’s book 31 Days of Praise and the Lord laid it on my heart to look up all the references at the bottom of each prayer and then following her example, create my own prayer of praise. Wow! Was that ever life-changing!
Since then I’ve discovered if I look at books of prayers not as something to rote-ly pray through but instead as providing a structure – almost as if I was praying with the actual author (eg., what’s written is their portion and after reading one phrase, I then add mine in there as if we’re going back and forth) well, I’ve been amazed at how this expands and enhances my prayer life getting me thinking and praying about things I never would’ve come up with on my own.
One treasure I recently discovered and am currently praying through is Barbara Duguid & Wayne Duguid Houk’s book Prone to Wander: Prayers of Confession and Celebration. Wow! Wow! Wow! This has been one of the biggest blessings in my life lately! Especially as at the end of each prayer she lists songs that relate with the very things just prayed for. After I pray, I look these songs up on youtube, watching the versions that feature the lyrics (a huge help since I can barely hear anymore!) and has this combination of prayer and singing ever resulted in some priceless times with the Father!
It’s also really been making me appreciate Jesus even more as I’m discovering even more how much I really do have to confess. When i use the blank A-C-T-S form (Adoration, Confession, Thanksgiving, Supplication) to structure my prayers at the end of the day there are times when I struggle to think of things to confess and it always seems even after I’ve written down the obvious, I know there’s more I’m missing. Has this book ever opened my eyes to that “more” I need to confess. And I’m finding as I confess more, I am so appreciating even more how much it cost Jesus to pay the penalty for all my sins! (Luke 7:47)
I’m also really getting the socks blessed off me as I’m praying through the prayers in The Valley of Vision edited by Arthur Bennet. As I’m praying through the prayers in that book, they are serving as a school training me in a whole new perspective shift!
I will say one of my biggest struggles in doing this is to fight against rushing through it. So I’m learning at the start of each time to not start with the prayer in the book, but instead to start by asking the Lord to calm my heart, bind the enemy in Jesus’ name from trying to rob me by bringing other things to mind I could be doing, and to give me grace to enjoy this time. What a difference it’s making to start that way!
At the end of Skye Jethani’s book With he gives suggestions for ways to keep growing in living life with God. One of the key ways he mentions is to take time three times a day and get down on your knees and pray through the written prayers of those who’ve walked with Jesus longer than you have. That’s what got me started on this new prayer journey – and what a blessed, life-changing journey it’s been so far!
Just thought I’d pass the treasure on! ;0)