A Guide to Christian Prayer
"...to many of us prayer is more like talking to a chocolate pudding than participating in an amazing relationship with a living being."
In Pursuit of the Living God tries to persuade the reader that an eternal relationship with God is at the heart of all prayer. It explores, in simple terms, the what, why, when, where and how of prayer as revealed in the pages of the Christian Bible. If you've ever wondered why, when we need to pray the most, we often pray the least, maybe this book can lead you to some answers.
In my experience, when I get discouraged about prayer I stop praying. I think this is common to many Christians, yet this is the opposite of what the Bible says we should do. Instead, it tells us to keep on praying and to pray more and more the worse things get. In fact, it tells us that the less our prayers are answered, the more we should pray. The Bible’s answer to discouragement about anything is to pray. For that matter, the Bible’s answer to anything at all is to pray. On every occasion when we would normally not pray, it tells us instead to pray. Prayer in the Bible is the be-all and end-all to every situation and circumstance, whether it is immediately effective or not. On the other hand, the be-all and end-all to me is to give up on prayer and instead to whine that God is not listening. To me praying seems counter-intuitive. I would rather find an excuse for God not answering my prayer than persist and actually hear his answer. I would rather believe that God is sitting afar off and distant, uncaring and unmoved, than believe what the Bible says: that he really loves me personally, that he lives within me, that he hears my every word, that he answers my prayers and that he will never leave me nor forsake me. My internal, unspoken attitude toward prayer is that prayer does not work and that it is boring, unrewarding and unimportant. All of these attitudes I have learned, either from others, or by myself. I need to unlearn them all and find out what prayer really is and how I should really pray. I need to learn what God says about prayer rather than what I think about prayer. I need to learn what the Bible teaches about prayer rather than what other people tell me about prayer.
This book tries to do just that: to teach what the Bible says about prayer. In its chapters I ask of prayer what, why, who, when, where and how. The latter half or even two-thirds of the book, the ’how’ section, can be read either as a normal book, or as a daily devotional. It is divided into chapters, each grouped around a prayer theme, containing Bible references and commentary relating to that theme. I developed the structure of the ’how’ section using a simple method: I read through the Bible from start to finish, searching for references to prayer and noting them down as I went. My search was based mainly around simple keywords such as ’pray’, ’call’, ’cry out’, ’praise’ and so on. I also tried to record references to prayer concepts where the wording may not have literally been related directly to prayer or praying. My search was large, though not exhaustive, yet still I ended up with a very large number of references to prayer. Once I’d finished, I sorted the references and found that they naturally fell into groups of ideas. These could often be sorted further into smaller groupings. Using these sorted groupings of Biblical references to prayer, I created chapters, each with small sections addressing a particular theme. From there I just added some of my own commentary and left it at that. Even such a simple process has provided a revelation to me of the richness of teaching in the Bible on the topic of prayer. My hope is that this richness will also be revealed to you as you read through this book.