Good Books on Prayer
Good Books on Prayer
Dr. Jeff VanGoethem
There are so many books on prayer! There are probably more books on prayer than almost any other subject. Dr. Tom Constable of Dallas Seminary once provided me with a bibliography of hundreds of books on prayer. I think I have over 100 books on prayer in my library. So where to start? How does one recommend just a few? It is a hard task particularly since we are all at a different point in our prayer journey. So with some trepidation, I am going to outline a few good ones, focused especially on those unique books that might be helpful for just about anyone or at least the broadest possible audience.
Lessons in the School of Prayer
Arthur Pierson. Scripture Memory, 1999.
This is an older work, as are most of the books I recommend on prayer. Thankfully it has been well preserved for modern readers. Pierson was a 19th century pastor who ministered in New York, and was also one of George Muller's biographers. This little book, 84 pages, is a succint summary of the teaching of the Lord Jesus on prayer. I have not seen anything else like it. I think he nails it, so if you are looking for some solid, insightful and essential biblical teaching on the principles and practice of prayer, this is it.
The Autobiography of George Muller
George Muller. Whitaker House, 1984.
This little books should be an encouragement to anyone seeking to strengthen their faith and prayer life. In it Muller simply tells the story of how he lived, trusting God for everything as he went through the challenges of his long life and ministry in 19th century England, as a pastor, Christian leader, and orphange director. It is reasonably brief, interesting to read, and very uplifting. This book is not to be confused with other biographies of Muller, which are also helpful to read. This book contains his own words and thoughts. In fact I would say it would be ideal to read one of the biographies of Muller, get a feel for who he was, and then read this book.
The Complete Works of E.M. Bounds
E.M. Bounds. Baker, 2004.
This fairly large volume, over 500 pages, is helpfully broken down into several of Bounds' short books on prayer and further broken down into very short and readable chapters. It makes for ideal devotional reading day by day. Bounds give sound, elementary teaching on prayer with a wonderful vision of God's goodness and graciousness. His work is an excellent gateway into the life of prayer. You'll be surprised how quickly you can work through this book and how far it takes you in the life of prayer.
The Valley of Vision
Ed. by Arthur Bennett. Banner of Truth, 1975.
This is a unique collection of puritan prayers arranged topically. The prayers are helpful from the standpoint of stimulating more holy prayer thoughts. Let's face it, when we go to the place of prayer, our hearts are often empty and our prayers lifeless. By read through and even praying through these prayers, we can be drawn back into a healthy season of prayer. Short of praying through the words of Scripture, I have found this book to be the most helpful stimulant to better praying.
Fresh Wind, Fresh Fire
Jim Cymbala. Zondervan, 1997.
I was trying to think of at least one book on prayer from the modern era. Many books on prayer from the modern era are sadly infected witih an unhelpful pragmatism and narcissism, and thus much less helpful in going deeper than many of the older books. I think, however, you might find this modern book challenging and helpful. In it, Jim Cymbala, the Pastor of the BrooklynTabernacle, tells the story of prayer in his life and the life of his church. The story he tells embodies the statement that "prayer is not everything, but everything comes by prayer." It is very encouraging, balanced and practical. It is not meant to be a book with careful teaching on prayer, but one can glean many helpful lessons and principles on what it is to be a praying Christian and praying church.
The Life and Diary of David Brainard
Jonathan Edwards. Diggory Press, 2006.
There are other reprints of this available so don't be discouraged if you have trouble finding a good price. Keep looking. This book is for those who have a consistent prayer life but want to go deeper. Brainard (sometimes spelled Brainerd), the well-known missionary to the Indians in the Colonial era, left behind his prayer diary and Jonathan Edwards put it together after Brainard's untimely death. It tells the story of his prayer life which was intense, powerful and fruitful, and shows a window into a deep and intense prayer burden. It is not always the easiest reading, but if you take it slowly, it can't help but make an impact on your life.