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How to Pray by Pete Greig (Hodder, ISBN 978–1529374926)

Pete Greig has written a book on prayer, and it’s wonderful. This is not surprising, for Pete has been writing this book for the last 20 years, leads the 24-7 prayer movement, and wrote the best book on unanswered prayer, God on Mute.

How to Pray is disarmingly simple – it’s suitable for those who have never picked up a book on prayer in their lives. But it’s also deep and rich, and will prove a helpful guide for many.

Pete writes to reassure us that praying is the “least weird, most natural, necessary and wonderful thing you can possibly do” (page 16). He employs several memory devices to help us in this quest, such as the helpful adage, “keep it simple; keep it real; keep it up,” for too often we overcomplicate things and overthink matters and then give up.

He arranges the book around the Lord’s Prayer and through the letters P.R.A.Y., which he takes to mean pause, rejoice, ask and yield. Chapters include centring on God, adoration, petition, intercession, listening and confession.

What I appreciate most about How to Pray is how it pulses with faith and hope. Pete has lived a life of prayer for decades, and it shows. He shares encouraging stories of people who have prayed for themselves and for others, and how God has so mercifully answered those cries of the heart. He also seamlessly interweaves quotations from many of the greats of prayer throughout history and showcases a series of “heroes of prayer” including Susanna Wesley and Corrie ten Boom.

I also like his emphasis on not giving up, for as he says we’ll only grow in prayer with a measure of self-discipline, effort and even discomfort. The more we pray, the more God changes us: “Like a butterfly emerging from a chrysalis, our metamorphosis comes through the constraints of holy habits, the training of neural pathways, the set prayers and the spiritual practices we maintain in our lives” (page 64).

Pete also makes the good point that not all people can pray best by sitting quietly in their room. For instance, some dancers sense God’s presence most when they are dancing; others find their prayers coming alive while walking in creation.

Those who have been Christians for decades may not find much new in How to Pray, but for them it’ll be a good reminder of many different ways to come before God. It’s a book I’ll continue to recommend to others.

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