“Extreme Prayer,” Greg Pruett


Photo courtesy of Tyndale House Publishers

This short book took a different approach to a lot of prayer books I’ve read. It focuses on the “whatever you ask” passages in the Bible that Jesus promises to answer. By providing specific examples from his own ministry Pruett was able to demonstrate how his prayer life developed over the years where increasingly he was able to relate answers to specific prayers he and his team had prayed.

Pruett introduced me to a new prayer acronym: ACTIVE, that is an extension to one many of us know: ACTS. It stands for:
A doration
C onfession
T hanksgiving
I ntercession/Supplication
V anquishing Satan
E xtreme Prayer

In outlining the elements of “Extreme Prayer” with practical examples, both Biblical and from his own experience, Pruett demonstrates prayer’s power. He suggests too many of us impose our own strategies to achieving certain outcomes and minimise prayer when venturing out. As prayer is a dialogue with God if we walk through our days with unceasing prayer we are far more likely to produce God-inspired outcomes.

I particularly appreciated Pruett’s emphasis on the power of unity in community (‘when two or three are gathered…”), specificity of our prayers and actively listening with pen in hand.

Highly recommended. This book gets you praying with added fervour and specificity.

“Making All Things New,” Henri Nouwen

9780060663261This is short at 96 pages and is written in three sections, all of which are easy to read. But there is such powerful insight in the words Nouwen uses.

I can read his work every day as there is such wonderful clarity around the understanding of the human condition plus he writes in this wonderfully melodic style that is non-judgemental and peaceful.

The book starts with identifying busyness as a key enemy to a spiritual life. However, he highlights the fact that busyness doesn’t necessarily lead to fulfilment. He then leads us into outlining the importance of the two disciplines: solitude and community. And it is in these two disciplines where a true spiritual life begins.

I particularly appreciate how he emphasises that prayer is about entering into God’s presence so we can understand His purposes. God is always talking so it is only in solitude that we are able to hear God outline His plans and purposes. Jesus was an active listener and Nouwen encourages us to develop the same habit.

Highly recommended.

“Draw the Circle,” Mark Batterson

circle-makerThis is a series of 40 separate devotionals on focused on the power of prayer. Each chapter is only 4-5 pages in length so can be read quite quickly. However, most of the chapters have much to chew on and so I found myself meditating on many of the chapters throughout the day.

I believe Mark Batterson wants to encourage us to pray more and believe, trusting that God is indeed faithful. Each devotional contains a short story, Biblical references and many wonderful soundbites that are useful for journalling. The chapters don’t really build on each other rather address a separate aspect of prayer.

The final devotional is a beauty about the fact the only way to get better at prayer is to keep doing it. It’s not meant to easy, just like learning a new language, but there are fruits to be experienced every time we surrender to the Father in prayer.

This is incredibly encouraging and has helped stimulate my prayer life.

Highly recommended.

Finding joy in ordinary moments

IMG_0626One of my favourite moments of the week is to sit down at the breakfast table to read the Saturday papers with my morning coffee. I’ve done it most weeks of my adult life.

There’s something about the extras that come with the Saturday paper. It’s more than the sport, business and headlines. It’s the culture, the longer articles that you can lose yourself in or the reviews of the latest movie, book or show.

Last Saturday I sat back and soaked it in. Especially took note of this hour of quiet where it’s just the paper, my coffee and me. The family are still in bed. Oh, except for Beanie, our pup. She’s usually racing around outside and from time to time pops in to remind me she’s not far away.

Gee, I enjoyed it.

“Joy is not a constant. It comes to us in moments – often ordinary moments. Sometimes we miss out on the burst of joy because we’re too busy chasing down extraordinary moments. Other times we’re so afraid of the dark that we don’t dare let ourselves enjoy the light.”1

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God answers prayer


Photo courtesy of Sura Nualpradid/Freedigitalphotos.net

My pastor shared a wonderful message yesterday on the power of prayer. He particularly emphasized corporate prayer and used the example of Peter’s ‘release’ from prison in Acts 12: 1-19 as evidence.

Please take a few moments to read the passage. You may recall that Peter was the top dog in the Christian world at that time. King Herod realised if he took out the top guy then the church may get discouraged and fade away into the background. But the church had other ideas. They “earnestly prayed to God for him.” (v5)

And God answered.

My pastor mentioned the 5 amazing ways God answered their prayers. I thought this was a great way of both summarizing the passage and providing encouragement for all of us to remain fervent in our prayers.

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Reflections on Silence


Photo courtesy of Evgeni Dinev/FreeDigitalphotos.net

Recently I’ve read a few devotional pieces on Psalm 23. If you haven’t read it recently, I’d encourage you to. Give yourself some time to simply sit and meditate on each of the verses. It’s a Psalm that brings such comfort.

Often when I praying I picture myself sitting with Jesus in a lush meadow. It’s peaceful and safe. I find I don’t want to leave it; I’m alone with my Lord and my shepherd. The world can wait a little while longer.

Soul Restoration

Jesus is in in the business of restoring souls. Read more

“Alone with God”, John MacArthur

107334lgSometimes we can spend too much time reading about prayer rather than doing it. However, this shortish book (180+ pages) is a great resource for aligning our focus.

Too often our prayer can be too needs-based, ie, it’s all about us. Whilst in taking us through The Lord’s Prayer and then Paul’s priorities in prayer, MacArthur provides a challenge to allow prayer to be more God focused. Most of the book walks through MacArthur’s reflections on the Lord’s Prayer. I’ve been using The Lord’s Prayer a lot recently, so I found this a good reminder of Jesus’ intentions when reciting this prayer.

However, it’s the last two chapters that spoke to me the most. MacArthur moves from Jesus to Paul’s prayer life to outline what Paul prioritised in His prayers. He highlights two key priorities:

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“Living a Prayerful Life”, Andrew Murray


Photo courtesy of Bethany House

“Satan endeavours to become the master of the Christian prayer time.”

That statement is written on the third last page of this marvellous book but is a great reminder of where the battle for our souls is played out. The enemy knows we are ineffective against him if we aren’t praying.

Andrew Murray in this relatively short book emphases the power of prayer by exploring Jesus’ commitment to it. His ministry wouldn’t have been as effective if it weren’t for His prayer life. I know I often forget this.

Murray regards prayerlessness as the scourge of the christian community: we just don’t pray enough. This book needs to be read diligently as Murray explores many new ideas. It isn’t a “To Do guide” only featuring the one small chapter on how to spend one’s prayer time but rather by focusing on the Word, the lives of Jesus, Paul and some more modern day Christian heroes like George Mueller and Hudson Taylor, encourages us to greater commitment to prayer.

It got me praying more which is the best recommendation I can make about a book on prayer.

Pray Like Jesus


Photo courtesy of Ligonier Ministries

Jesus provides a wonderful picture of the power of prayer. His life revolved around it; His ministry would not have been effective if it hadn’t been for His commitment to prayer.

I often forget this about Jesus. It’s only been in recent years studying the Bible that I realised that Jesus was fully human. I had lived thinking He was God, so Jesus could do anything.

Jesus was only able to do what He did and fulfil His mission because of prayer. In living as a human for 33 years, Jesus provided the example for us to live by: be people of prayer.

Let’s have a quick look at some of the aspects of His prayer life. Some of this post I wrote 6 months ago, so some of you may be familiar with what follows. But I thought it useful to re-post it.


Scripture tells us Jesus prayed constantly:

“But Jesus often withdrew to lonely places and prayed.” (Luke 5:16)

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Praying the Word


Photo courtesy of “Stuart Miles”/Freedigitalphotos.net

Memorise Bible verses.

For most of my Christian walk I would switch off when some one mentioned those 3 words. Reading the Bible, especially the Old Testament was hard enough without adding more work to it, like memorising verses.

Guess what? I didn’t actively do it. My heart didn’t value its importance.

“If you abide in Me, and My words abide in you, you will ask what you desire, and it shall be done for you! (John 15:7 NASB)

Jesus made that promise to us. I would often reflect on the second half of it: Jesus will give me what I desire. But there’s a two-letter word at the beginning of that sentence that makes the second half conditional upon the first half.


If we are walking with Jesus, His words will be inside of us. Remember those school and college days when we studied for exams? I found I got the best results when I didn’t just read material a few times, but I memorised it. There were some (not many) exams I knew the material so well, I could picture entire pages of stuff. It was those exams I blitzed.

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