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Reviews | The Path of Prayer

The Path of Prayer

John Morris

Paperback or e-book (ePub)

160 pages

The Path of Prayer

The Christadelphian review (from June 2007)

Effectual prayer

THROUGHOUT his life, David was constantly in awe of God’s greatness, shown in the majesty of creation. David, therefore, considered it an immense privilege to be able to talk with the great Creator, and that God would hear and answer the prayers of His humble servant.

This is our privilege too. Now we are able to “enter into the holiest by the blood of Jesus, by a new and living way, which he hath consecrated for us”. The Lord Jesus has brought us to God, and so we can stand in His very presence to offer our praises and make our petitions.

But as we stand before God what do we say? How should we say it? What should we ask for? In what spirit should we approach? Are there obstacles to prayer?

The Path of Prayer by Brother John Morris helps us to answer questions like these as we seek to develop a prayerful life before God. Prayer is a practical subject, and this book therefore has a practical outlook by focusing on how we can apply the teaching of the word of God about prayer in our lives. It regularly asks questions and challenges us to examine our practices. For example, having looked at the way the first century ecclesia gave itself to prayer, we are asked: Do we continue steadfastly in prayer? Is there in our meetings an atmosphere of reverent devotion and worship; of joyful praise and thankfulness? Is there opportunity for fervent supplication on behalf of persons who are in difficulty or causes that are in need? The book is similarly challenging throughout.

The chapters on “How and When to Pray” and “Problems in Prayer”, in particular, are full of useful practical advice.

A scriptural approach

“A life of prayer is a life founded on and fed from the Word. The reading of the Scriptures will keep us in touch with the great principles of prayer, and with Biblical examples of men and women of prayer” (page 142).

This is also the book’s approach. Each study begins by looking at the scriptures before drawing out the practical lessons. Considerable scriptural support is given for each of the points made and very often quotations are made in full which helps to maintain the readability. There are several case studies of prayer taken from the lives of faithful men and women: Moses, Samson, Elijah, Elisha, David, Hezekiah, Jeremiah, Daniel, Ezra, Nehemiah, Paul and many others. Of course, the perfect example of the Lord Jesus is also considered – a whole chapter being devoted to this.

The book is based on sound exposition of scripture and is free from difficult “technical” jargon. Each of the studies is clear, concise and accessible so that all can enjoy and benefit from the Bible study.

Something for everyone

Our approach to prayer is often very personal depending on our age and experience. However, the book is not aimed at one particular group to the exclusion of others; rather it takes into consideration a wide audience. So, whether you are baptized or not, a brother or sister, a young person or mature in years, there are scriptural lessons and words of experience from which all can benefit. There are sections about personal prayer as well as the use of prayer in the ecclesia too, looking at the topic of communication between man and God as it develops and unfolds in the Biblical accounts.

Here are just a few of the other aspects of prayer covered in The Path of Prayer:

  • The vocabulary of prayer
    Over twenty English words are used in the AV to describe prayer, showing how prayer is not just about making requests of God, but one of the ways we praise, thank and worship Him too. The vocabulary of the way God hears and answers prayer is equally as rich, showing our Father’s interest in, and concern for, those who come to Him.
  • Preconditions for prayer
    This section considers the importance of repentance, humility, sincerity, faith and persistence in prayer.
  • Meditation
    Sometimes we find it difficult to find the right words when we pray. In these situations, meditation can be a useful precursor to prayer. Quietly reflecting on God’s word and what He has done for us helps us to turn our thoughts and feelings into words of prayer.
  • The Lord’s Prayer
    This is the model prayer Jesus taught which should be used as a template for our own. Many of the phrases have their roots in the Old Testament.

Honouring the Son

The book shows how prayer should be addressed to God “through Jesus” or “in his name”. In particular, the chapter entitled, “That all men should honour the Son” is useful. It discusses the correct balance between addressing our prayers to God through Jesus, whilst ensuring that we properly reverence the Lord Jesus Christ.

It is possible to look at the Lord’s intercessory work in a different way. Is Jesus no longer involved in our prayers? Is it possible that, having come into a covenant relationship with God through Jesus, we now go straight to the Father in prayer?

This suggestion runs into difficulties when the words of Hebrews 7:25 are considered:

“Wherefore he is able also to save them to the uttermost that come unto God by him, seeing he ever liveth to make intercession for them.”

These words were written to brothers and sisters in Jerusalem, not to those outside the covenant. By them, we are assured that Jesus’ role as an intercessor was not a one-off event; rather he is constantly working to facilitate our approach to God – he is intimately involved with everything we say to the Father. However, we must be careful not to see Jesus as simply a messenger between ourselves and God. To use Brother John’s words: “There is a danger that we view the work of Christ in heaven as something akin to that of a telephone switchboard operator – mechanically passing on messages to God. This is far from the truth, for the one at God’s right hand is a living Lord, vitally concerned about our needs and our wish to pray through him” (page 88).

Instead of concentrating on the mechanics of prayer from ourselves to God, perhaps we do better to focus on what Jesus does in mediating grace and kindness from God toward us. As Brother John writes: “We should never cease to marvel at the promise of God to watch over us, to answer prayer, to supply our needs, and to show us the way of truth in Christ: “He who did not spare his own Son but gave him up for us all, how will he not also with him graciously give us all things? … (Nothing) will be able to separate us from the love of God in Christ Jesus our Lord” (page 90).

In conclusion

Prayer is a vast subject and yet surprisingly little has been written about it. The Path of Prayer, therefore, very capably fills a gap in our literature. It is a very helpful book, full of sound Bible study and practical advice and is to be recommended to all brethren and sisters and young people.

JAMES WALKER

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