Written by Pete Greig
Reviewed by Lauren Reeves
‘How to pray – a simple guide for normal people’ is exactly what it says on the cover – a simple, honest, and relatable guide through the subject of prayer. The book is written by Pete Greig, founder of the 24/7 prayer movement and a senior pastor at Emmaus Rd (Guildford, England).
Using ‘The Lord’s Prayer’ as a map, Pete guides the reader on a journey through nine different paths of prayer: Stillness, Adoration, Petition, Intercession, Perseverance, Contemplation, Listening, Confession and Spiritual Warfare. That’s a lot of content to cover but Pete brings it back to basics by setting it out in 4 simple steps, using the appropriate acronym P.R.A.Y. :
Pause – Stillness
Rejoice – Adoration
Ask – Petition, Intercession, Perseverance
Yield – Contemplation, Listening, Confession, Spiritual Warfare
The first chapter of the book addresses the question ‘Why pray?’. Chapter 2 encourages the reader to ‘Keep it simple, Keep it real, and Keep it up’, before the remaining chapters look more specifically at each of the forms of prayer. Along the way Pete continuously aligns the content with a relevant phrase from ‘The Lord’s Prayer’ such as ‘Hallowed be thy name’ (Adoration) and ‘Give us this day our daily bread’ (Petition).
Rather than leaving the reader overwhelmed by the scale of prayer topics covered, the book concludes with a reminder to, above all else, ‘keep it simple’ and ‘just show up’.
"All that really matters therefore is that we bring our hearts before the Father as simply, honestly, and consistently as we can"
"After decades of night and day prayer, I have come to believe that 99 percent of it is just showing up, making the effort to become consciously present to the God who is constantly present to us."
Pete uses examples from history, modern day events, missionaries, celebrities, friends, and his own experiences as a father and husband to illustrate the different types of prayer in ways that are both captivating and highly relatable. Highlights are the power of intercession evidenced when a National Day of Prayer was called ahead of what is now referred to as ‘the miracle of Dunkirk’, and Pete’s personal experience of unanswered prayer surrounding his wife’s chronic illness. In addition, at the end of each chapter the reader is introduced to a ‘Hero of Prayer’ whose life illustrates the type of prayer just examined. The ‘Hero’s’ include Corrie Ten Boom, Susanna Wesley, Brother Lawrence, St Patrick and even the mathematician Blaise Pascal.
The book explores practical prayer concepts such as Lectio and Examen and provides links to a wealth of ‘prayer tools’ hosted online at prayercourse.org as well as suggestions for further reading alongside each chapter.
Tricky topics are covered from whether it’s ok to pray for a parking space, dealing with disappointment in prayer, recognising spiritual attacks, and discerning God’s voice in radical occurrences such as prophecy and visions as well as in the familiar and ordinary.
Although the subject matter is vast, the book is very easy to read and often whimsical – including amusing stories from Pete’s young children and one of a dog causing chaos on a busy high street. There’s even an introductory chapter titled ‘How to Read this Book in a Couple of Minutes’ which summarises all the key points for those who aren’t so good at seeing a book through to the end!
"If you want to trust Jesus more, get to know him more. Look at him more, listen to him more, spend more time with him. It really is that simple!"
To complement the book, Pete has published a video study series: ‘The Prayer Course’ which is available for free at prayercourse.org. A second video series has recently been released, ‘Unanswered Prayer Course’ or ‘The Prayer Course 2’, based on Pete’s newest book ‘God on Mute’. Other books published by Pete include ‘Red Moon Rising’ and ‘Dirty Glory’.