“One of the foundational steps in knowing God, and one of the basic demonstrations that we do know God, is prayer – spiritual, persistent, biblically-minded prayer.”
A Call to Spiritual Reformation (Praying with Paul) by Don Carson is an extremely helpful book that has taught me how to pray by showing me the prayers of the bible. I cannot over-exaggerate how encouraging and clear this book is! It is full of practical ways to incorporate prayer into your life, and by unpacking Paul’s prayers, shows us how and what to pray for.
What struck me most when reading this book alongside Paul’s prayers, is that Paul prays boldly. He eagerly prays to our Heavenly Father asking that the Christians he knows will be transformed to the likeness of Christ. His persistent prayers for godliness are centred on love and the knowledge of God’s amazing grace. One of the prayers Don breaks down for us is Philippians 1:1-10. In this passage he shows us how Paul doesn’t pray for mediocrity, instead he prays boldly for excellence and asks that the Philippians may abound in love and in knowledge so that they may be discerning, pure and blameless until the day of Christ. What an incredible thing to pray for! Since reading this book earlier this year, I have been continually challenged to boldly pray for the plans that God has for our lives as outlined in the bible.
With chapters including “Excuses for Not Praying”, “Praying for Others”, “Overcoming the Hurdles” and “Praying to the Sovereign God”, this book answered many questions I didn’t even know I had about prayer, including:
If God is sovereign, why do I pray?
Why should I pray for things that God has already promised us?
What are things I should be praying for regularly?
What if I don’t feel like praying?
This book has really changed the way I pray and the way I read the bible. I was reminded of how blessed we are to have a God who wants us to call him “Father”, and one who cares deeply about us personally while also being sovereign and transcendent. We have the privilege of open communication to a God “who is able to do immeasurably more than all we ask or imagine, according to his power that is at work within us” – Ephesians 3:20.
A Call to Spiritual Reformation by Don Carson is a book you really should read if you want to be reminded of the gift of prayer, and also challenged by the call to pray for what is best.