When someone gifts me a book, I tend to pay close attention. Books change lives. A new title added to my library, prompted by someone’s concern that it might enrich me, makes me want to read the thing with very few exceptions.
That certainly was the case with my recent sabbatical when a dear friend of mine sent me this gem of a read. Most people know the Puritan Matthew Henry for his massive commentary on the whole Bible. Rarely do I prepare a sermon that I don’t reference this classic as part of my study. What I didn’t know until receiving a copy of A Way to Pray and reading its introduction by O. Palmer Robertson, is that the man never finished the commentary without help. He considered the publication of this work a greater priority.
A Way to Pray consists almost entirely of Scriptures arranged topically and put into the language of prayer to help guide the believer’s intercessory life. Robertson revised the 300 year old work to put it into language suitable to the modern day.
Here’s what Robertson says in the introduction about the significance of this approach to prayer:
Prayer in this form is nothing more and nothing less than what the old Puritans called ‘pleading the promises’. God has made promises to his people. His people respond by redirecting those promises to the Lord in the form of prayer. How could a God who is faithful to his word fail to answer prayers of this kind? He has promised. He will honour that promise. If Christians would join together and form their prayers with the maturity and insight provided by Scripture itself, the impact on the world could not be measured.”
Robertson also goes on to say, and this strikes me as no insignificant testimony, that, “Next to the Bible it has been the most read and the most influential book in my life.”
As I have begun to work through the various sections – praise, confession, petition, thanksgiving, intercession, etc., I have found A Way to Pray to provide a richness to my spiritual disciplines which I regret not adding to the mix a long time ago. You can purchase a copy here. Or you can access a free online version here.
In working through the section on confession this morning, I prayed this from p. 54:
In the multitude of our words there never has been a lack of sin, for man full of talk will never be justified. While the lips of the righteous feed many, our lips have poured out foolishness and spoken perversity. Much corrupt communication has come out of our mouths. We are guilty of foolish talk and jesting, which are always out of place in your presence. We have spoken little of things useful for building up; others in the faith. We have failed to speak words that could minister grace to our hearers.
If we must give account for every idle word that we have spoken, we stand condemned. If by our words we shall be justified and by our words we shall be condemned, then woe to us. We are ruined, for we all have unclean lips and live among people with unclean lips. What would happen to us if you should turn our tongue against us?
Here’s to prayer that impacts the world beyond measure.