Few words conjure up as many strong emotions as this word – prayer. Guilt and joy, frustration and elation, privilege and responsibility, to name just a few. The fact that the maker and sustainer of the cosmos is ready to listen to his children at any moment is incredibly shocking. God is attentive to the prayers of his kids! Yet many of us find practicing prayer is somewhat discouraging. Frankly, many spiritual disciplines are much easier for me to engage in personally. Perhaps you can relate.

During this year’s sabbatical, one of my main projects has been to pray more, read about prayer more, and devote focused thought on how we can pray more as a church family. I look forward to sharing more with you in person, but for now, here’s a summary of two books on prayer I enjoyed over the last few weeks.

In Praying the Bible, Donald Whitney asserts something rather provocative, “…if mind wandering boredom describes your experience in prayer, I would argue that if you are indwelled by the Holy Spirit – if you are born again – then the problem is not you; it’s your method.” Donald then explains that the method most Christians use in prayer is to “…say the same old things about the same old things.” Essentially, the author argues that our problem in prayer is not that we don’t want to pray, but that we don’t know what to say when we pray.

Whitney’s solution is simple yet profound: use the Bible to guide your prayers. Open Psalm 1, for example, and read a verse then pray about whatever comes to mind, then read another verse and pray about whatever comes to mind, all the way through the Psalm. This strategy, over time, will teach us both how to read the Bible better, and it will keep us focused on communicating with God in fresh ways. Whitney even gives a helpful chart with Psalms to choose from each day of the month.

Over the years, God has used this approach to prayer to lift me out of discouragement and prayerlessness. I can’t commend it enough to you. Give it a try. Even better, snag the book, read through it with a fellow church member, and start praying this way together.

In Praying the Bible, Donald Whitney asserts something rather provocative, “…if mind wandering boredom describes your experience in prayer, I would argue that if you are indwelled by the Holy Spirit – if you are born again – then the problem is not you; it’s your method.” Donald then explains that the method most Christians use in prayer is to “…say the same old things about the same old things.” Essentially, the author argues that our problem in prayer is not that we don’t want to pray, but that we don’t know what to say when we pray.

Whitney’s solution is simple yet profound: use the Bible to guide your prayers. Open Psalm 1, for example, and read a verse then pray about whatever comes to mind, then read another verse and pray about whatever comes to mind, all the way through the Psalm. This strategy, over time, will teach us both how to read the Bible better, and it will keep us focused on communicating with God in fresh ways. Whitney even gives a helpful chart with Psalms to choose from each day of the month.

Over the years, God has used this approach to prayer to lift me out of discouragement and prayerlessness. I can’t commend it enough to you. Give it a try. Even better, snag the book, read through it with a fellow church member, and start praying this way together.

John Onwuchekwa (try quickly repeating that last name ten times!) recently wrote a beneficial little book on prayer. It’s in the outstanding 9Marks series we use so often as a church. If you are discipling someone, leading or aspiring to lead a GC or ministry team, or simply want to be an especially thoughtful church member, this book is aimed at you: John’s focus is on helping churches learn how to pray more together.

Onwuchekwa’s fundamental emphasis is that “…you can’t teach a church to depend on God by propositions alone. Practice is necessary, and that practice is prayer. A church that practices prayer is more than a church that learns; it is also a church that leans.” He’s right! I believe the Lord would be magnified, our relationships with God and each other would be strengthened, and our church’s witness for Christ in Tempe would grow if we leaned on God more. In many ways, that’s what prayer is for. Would you consider how you could work a bit more time in to pray with brothers and sisters?

As we quickly move into the second half of the year, let’s ask God to help us learn to lean more on him. Let’s ask him to bring many more people to join Church on Mill. Let’s ask him to deepen our faith in his unending power. Let’s pray for Jesus to save friends, roommates, and co-workers. And let’s do so together!

With love,

Pastor Chuck

John Onwuchekwa (try quickly repeating that last name ten times!) recently wrote a beneficial little book on prayer. It’s in the outstanding 9Marks series we use so often as a church. If you are discipling someone, leading or aspiring to lead a GC or ministry team, or simply want to be an especially thoughtful church member, this book is aimed at you: John’s focus is on helping churches learn how to pray more together.

Onwuchekwa’s fundamental emphasis is that “…you can’t teach a church to depend on God by propositions alone. Practice is necessary, and that practice is prayer. A church that practices prayer is more than a church that learns; it is also a church that leans.” He’s right! I believe the Lord would be magnified, our relationships with God and each other would be strengthened, and our church’s witness for Christ in Tempe would grow if we leaned on God more. In many ways, that’s what prayer is for. Would you consider how you could work a bit more time in to pray with brothers and sisters?

As we quickly move into the second half of the year, let’s ask God to help us learn to lean more on him. Let’s ask him to bring many more people to join Church on Mill. Let’s ask him to deepen our faith in his unending power. Let’s pray for Jesus to save friends, roommates, and co-workers. And let’s do so together!

With love,

Pastor Chuck

P.S. If you’d like to learn about how Jesus himself coached the disciples in prayer, here’s a series of sermons covering Jesus’s teachings on prayer.