One of the best ways to grow in spiritual maturity is prayer. And one of the best ways to learn how to pray better is to read the prayers of others. Some people think it’s “cheating” to do so. Others think that it cheapens things if we simply pray something previously written by someone else. On both charges, it’s implied that praying in such a way is inauthentic. Before giving some resources on prayer, let me justify using the prayers of others in our own prayer life.
- The Bible is full of prayers that function as models for our own prayers. They teach us how to pray, so why can’t other people led by the Spirit do so?
- There’s no need to reinvent the wheel every time we pray. Other godly people have gone before us, and we would do well to learn from their spirituality. It’s not humble to think we don’t need help from others in our growth as Christians.
- Reading prayers written by others often enriches our own prayers, and actually keeps us from cheapening the experience of praying.
- It’s not necessarily true that unscripted prayers are more sincere than scripted prayers. Since Jesus gave us the exact words we should pray in the The Lord’s Prayer, it at least suggests that we can “pray in the Spirit” through words given to us.
With that said, below are some resources on prayer:
Prayer: Experiencing Awe and Intimacy with God by Timothy Keller. This is one of the best books on prayer I’ve ever read. Keller knows how to deal with the heart, and he leverages Scripture and church history to give a model on how to pray and why.
Praying the Bible by Donald Whitney. This little book is superb. It addresses the rut that we often get into as Christians: Praying the same old thing, time after time after time. He gives wise and practical counsel on how to avoid ruts by praying Scripture.
Valley of Vision by Arthur Bennett. If Keller’s book is a theology of prayer, this book is a model of prayer. It’s a compilation of Puritan prayers that kindle devotion and worship in the heart. I do not exaggerate when I say that it has profoundly influenced and helped my prayer life. Similar to this is a book published by Lexham Press entitled Piercing Heaven.
A Method for Prayer: Freedom in the Face of God by Matthew Henry. Whitney’s book gives the reasons for praying the Bible, and Henry’s book gives us the ways in which to do it. His mastery of Scripture is convicting, and it has really showed me how to incorporate God’s own words into my prayers.
A Guide to Prayer by Isaac Watts. Watts was an Anglican minister and a prolific hymn writer (1674-1748). Banner of Truth has republished his little work on how to pray, and it is incredibly helpful and informative. It’s geared more towards those who pray often in the public gathering for worship, but it is still very edifying for any Christian to read.
Streams of Mercy and Prone to Wander are two volumes written by Barbara Duguid and Wayne Houk that offer models on prayers of confession. These are full of Scripture and give a weighty approach to the heinousness of sin in God’s eyes. They’ve helped me confess my sins more times than I can count.
Bonus: Spurgeon’s Prayers.