30/10/2012

Pray (by Warren Myers and Ruth Myers)

I didn't know anything about Warren and Ruth Myers; apparently they were an American couple who worked for the Navigators organisation in the middle of the 20th century, and both died within the past ten years. They don't seem to have had a website, or much of a web presence at all, but co-wrote several Christian books.

I don't know where 'Pray' came from. The subtitle, 'How to be effective in prayer' sounds a little daunting and this has sat on our shelves for some years. Perhaps we picked it up at a church bookstall somewhere - in any case, I've finally finished reading it, and am very glad that I did.

This little book is basically a manual covering just about every aspect of personal prayer. It recommends being read slowly, pondering each chapter - and that's exactly what I did, so that it took me a month to complete, despite being only around 150 pages.

There are three broad sections of this book: principles of prayer, a pattern of prayer (looking specifically at the Lord's Prayer), and finally the practice of prayer. Good evangelical alliteration - but, happily, that's where the gimmicks stop. The chapters are short, the theology sound, the advice excellent. There are some good anecdotes to break the teaching up, but even the teaching isn't dry or heavy. It's wise, practical, and above all do-able. Or mostly so, anyway. The authors give suggestions rather than instructions, and there's an appendix with several proposed ideas of spending time with God early in the day.

One chapter I particularly appreciated suggested that in reading the Bible devotionally, it was a good idea to look out for a single verse or part of a verse that seemed to stand out, every day. It wouldn't necessarily be a key verse, or even one that others had found important. But, the authors suggested, if God is speaking to us through the Bible, then there's likely to be something in any passage we read that's particularly appropriate or relevant to the day ahead, or to people we're praying for.

It's easy, sometimes, to feel inferior when listening to lengthy, carefully crafted prayers in a church service or other meeting. This book encourages every believer to chat with God, to use brief arrow prayers as appropriate, and to listen and learn in ways that suit their personalities and learning styles. Gentle words that got right under my skin in more ways than one.

Highly recommended, if you can find it. Not currently in print, but sometimes available second-hand.

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