Why We Pray, William Philip, 2015, Crossway, Wheaton, Ill., ISBN 9781433542862, 112 pages, $11.99, softcover.
The disciplines of a Christian walk are simple to see (prayer, obedience, service, sacrifice, etc.), but applying them is the work of a lifetime. Even more difficult is writing about them in ways that open hearts to grow in those practices. Too often, books and articles on these disciplines manage either to downplay their significance or to heap guilt on those who struggle in different areas from the author.
Why We Pray is a needed respite from bad ideas about these vital gifts of God to the church. Philip has produced a succinct work on the theology of prayer, stepping back from the application to recapture the awe we should have when we think of such communion with the Almighty. He writes not to burden readers, but to set them free to grow in their own prayer lives.
Philip, senior ministry of the Tron Church in Glasgow, Scotland, accomplishes this by setting our understanding prayer in relationship to God. Prayer, rather than being a "have to" by which we prove our devotion, becomes a "get to" condition of our standing in Christ. A healthy prayer life serves as an indicator of our relationship with God, not an extra measure of spirituality. Prayer is not about somehow bending God to our will by our passion and dedication, but shaping our desires to His will so that we will cherish Him and receive His leading with gratitude.
This book is short and to the point, almost more of a pamphlet. Philip structures his case around four main points. We pray, he says: because God speaks, because we are His children, because He is sovereign, and because His Spirit dwells within us. Through each of these lenses, he shows how God's work in us enables, motivates, and sustains our prayer. Because it is God's work, not ours, prayer becomes not an obligation but a blessing.
In seeking a straightforward reason for prayer and finding it in the manifold grace of God, Philip has produced a work which should be helpful and encouraging to believers everywhere. We are often burdened and downcast in our striving to follow Christ, and the absence of prayer is often the cause. This humble little book seeks to restore prayer into our lives by taking it off the "to-do" list and bringing it back to the center of our relationship with our Maker and Savior.
Type: Christian Life/Prayer
Take: Highly recommended