I got this book a few years ago for free while attending a conference. This is one of many perks of conferences, but admittedly many of those books go on the shelf and wait years to be read.
At first glance this little book doesn’t look as though it will pose too great a challenge. It doesn’t look like it will take that long to read and honestly, I thought it would mostly just guilt me into praying more.
That was not the case at all. I finally picked it up thinking I would breeze through it and move on to the next book in my queue. I quickly (and happily) learned how wrong I had been.
Jones writes a simple and concise book on prayer, to be sure. But it packs a powerful punch and is highly practical. Most lessons we hear on prayer appeal to our guilt and our obvious need to pray more. Not so with Jones’ book.
In less than 170 pages Jones moves from defining prayer and how it works in the first two chapters to giving a sampling of prayer throughout history.
He spends three chapters on prayers from the Old Testament, three more on those from the New Testament, and then three more chapters on prayers from the Church’s history. He wraps up the book with a dozen pages of sample prayers meant to guide us in the exercise of prayer.
And it is this point, the exercise of prayer, that I think makes Jones’ book stand out from what I expected a book on prayer to be. Jones knows that we all know we ought to pray more, but he recognizes that there are a multitude of reasons that we don’t. And so what he encourages throughout the book is this practice of exercising—though he never does so explicitly.
Prayer takes work. It takes discipline. It takes repeated effort. It needs to be worked out. It is an exercise . . . and we don’t ever fully arrive.
Jones spends his time exposing us to a variety of recorded prayers over a long course of human history. And in doing that he not only exposes our hearts, but also shows us incredible glimpses of the God who hears and answers those prayers. And in showing us these glimpses of the greatness of God, he gives us the only true motivation for prayer.
We are drawn to prayer because we are drawn to God.
Jones follows each prayer with a short summary of the truths contained—a double-shot of truth for those times when we’re tempted to move our eyes to quickly to the next page. This provides for a much fuller exposure of our hearts as well as God’s.
Before moving on to the next prayer or next section of prayers, Jones then asks a number of penetrating and thoughtful questions, questions that are too sharp and direct to escape without answering. They are questions that further motivate and move us to pray.
I have read few books that have accomplished what this book has done: I have come away not just knowing what I ought, but doing it, and finding myself in healthy repeated patterns of this renewed exercise.