Reviewed by: Frank Marsh
You Can Pray, by Tim Chester. P&R, 2014. Paperback, 176 pages, list price $12.99. Reviewed by OP pastor Frank Marsh.
Prayer is one of the means of grace to strengthen and nourish our relationship with Jesus Christ. We are also called to personal, family, and corporate prayer for one another and the work of the gospel throughout the world. Yet we often neglect to pray and feel anxiety and guilt about our prayer life. Tim Chester’s book on prayer encourages us to overcome these struggles and to learn to approach the Lord with confidence.
The author emphasizes that the gospel should shape our prayers and that the glory of God should be the aim and vision of our prayer life. He clearly and succinctly emphasizes three fundamental scriptural truths. First, God our Father loves to hear our prayers when we come to him trusting in Christ. Second, God the Son makes our prayers acceptable to the Father. Third, God the Holy Spirit enables us to pray and articulates the groans of our hearts before the throne of grace.
In his chapter on “The Son Making Every Prayer Pleasing to God the Father,” the author explains how gospel-shaped prayer can deepen our delight and humility in prayer as we understand that our prayers are a gift of God’s grace.
In chapters 4, 5, and 6, Chester challenges us to cultivate a passion for the sovereignty of God and deepen our dependence on him. He considers why people don’t pray and shows from Scripture why we are to pray. He explains that the Lord uses our prayers as the ordained means to accomplish his will and to glorify himself. These chapters encourage us to overcome the struggles we have in praying and to cultivate the priority of prayer for God’s glory.
At the end of each chapter, Chester provides helpful questions for reflection and a scriptural prayer to use as a basis for prayer and to shape our prayers for ourselves and others.
In the last section of the book, the author develops what we should pray for on the basis of the Lord’s Prayer. His theme throughout this section is that God and his glory are to be at the center of our prayers.
This is an accessible and scripturally rich book on learning to pray as the children of God, depending on him and seeking his glory. It is designed to encourage followers of Christ to understand more deeply the sovereign work and help of the Trinity in our prayers. As we do, our confidence and joy in prayer will grow as well. It would have been helpful, however, if the author had given more attention to what prayer is beyond a cry to one’s heavenly Father.
The book contains encouraging practical strategies for making prayer a priority and a renewed passion in our lives. It will help both new and mature believers to understand the importance of prayer. This book would be a helpful resource for prayer meetings and Sunday school classes on prayer.
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