Book Review: How To Pray

How To Pray:  What The Bible Tells Us About Genuine, Effective Prayer, by Reuben A. Torrey

[Note:  This book was provided free of charge by Aneko Press.  All thoughts and opinions are my own.]

I must admit that I was a bit puzzled by this book.  When I read a book on prayer (something that happens fairly often, actually [1]), I have certain expectations about what sort of material will be in it.  Some people focus on prayer as a means to power, others look at prayer in a biblical or historical context, or look at various disciplines related to prayer.  This book, though, looks at prayer from a standpoint that is fairly narrow and focused and somewhat odd, and that is the specific interest in revival.  As far as authors go, this one is pretty tough-minded, using the obvious lack of revival as a way of criticizing the reading audience, and in particular taking to task pastors for not having a genuine desire for revival because it would be personally inconvenient for them.  I must admit I don’t like the attitude to be found in this book, but if one is looking for a fierce book about a church in drift, this book is certainly a timely one.

The contents of this book are short at a bit more than 100 pages, but they are definitely fierce.  The author begins with a discussion of the importance of prayer (1) and the need to pray to God and not to ourselves (2).  After that the author discusses the need to accompany one’s prayer with a life of obedience (3) and to pray in the name of Jesus and according to His will and not our own (4).  After that, there is a discussion of praying in the Spirit (5) and praying without fainting (6).  The author then talks about the need to abide with Christ (7) as well as the need to pray with thanksgiving to cultivate an attitude of gratitude (8).  There are discussions about the hindrances to prayer (9) as well as some advice on when to pray (10).  The author then concludes this short book with a discussion of the need for a general revival (11), something that is no less true today, as well as the place of prayer before and during revivals (12), something which assumes that revivals are going to be present among a godly and healing congregation or area.  After this there is a short biography of the author provided by the editor.

Sometimes one can learn a great deal from a book that one can respect without necessarily liking.  Admittedly, praying for a revival is something that I would do differently than an author.  That is because in my own perspective our nation and civilization have never believed or behaved in accordance with God’s laws and the example of Jesus Christ, not even in the best eras or societies of history.  In the author’s mindset, there were periods in the past that were ideal that the author would want to see again in terms of faithfulness that needs to come back.  Likewise, I think this book would have been a lot better had the author turned his concern at himself and not merely at others.  More than most readers, I think, I tend to be rather sensitive to matters of framing and perspective, and people who have a lot of spleen to vent without showing any hint of self-criticism do not come off well, even among people with whom there would be a lot of agreement.  That said, this is a book that is easy to respect and appreciate even if its tone is not the one that I think would be best suited to accomplishing its purposes of encouraging a widespread repentant attitude and a turning to God in prayer.

[1] See, for example:

About nathanalbright

I'm a person with diverse interests who loves to read. If you want to know something about me, just ask.
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