Prayer is hard, but Christianity without prayer is dead. Prayer, devotion, worship, and seeking a spiritual life keep me Christian. Prayer is what takes Christianity out of the realm of thought and theory and into the place where you live, work, and play. Prayer makes you an earthy, gritty, grace-loving, reconciliation-pursuing, real-life Christian. Prayer won’t let you keep your Christianity in your mind, away from people. Prayer will help you embrace life in all your pursuits, joys, and struggles. But since prayer is hard, we all need guidance. Here are five books that can offer you spiritual guidance in your prayer life.
1. Tim Keller, Prayer: Experiencing Awe and Intimacy with God
Tim Keller introduces the basics of prayer with clarity and depth. This book explains what prayer is, how to pray, how to enjoy prayer, and how to develop a healthy prayer life. What I loved about this book is that I usually can’t read too much of it without taking time to pray. It is well written and has influenced me to pray more often. Keller gives enough to instruct new Christians and inspire theologians.
2. James K. A. Smith, You Are What You Love: The Spiritual Power of Habit
This is one of my favorite books on spiritual formation. James K. A. Smith explains how our life, worship, and daily habits shape our loves and desires. He shows that God has given his grace through his Word and sacraments, received in the context of the church’s worship, to shape our desires and help us to live the Christian life. This book will help you to think about how prayer fits into your daily life and will make you more aware of how God is present with you to draw you to love.
3. Martin Luther, A Simple Way to Pray
This is one of my favorite books on prayer. Here Luther gives great advice and guidance to get you praying. I’m not going to tell you what he said, because I want you to read this short work for yourself.
4. Johann Gerhard, Meditations on Divine Mercy: A Classic Treasury of Devotional Prayers
This book is a collection of written prayers that focus your heart and mind toward God’s grace in Jesus Christ. This is a book to guide your prayers and thoughts toward Jesus. Gerhard’s meditations help your prayer life to be Christ-centered in the best sense.
This book can seem intimidating and complex, but it’s worth it. The Book of Common Prayer lays out a realistic pattern of devotional life set forth in the daily office. The daily office includes a lectionary (a set of readings for the church year) arranged by the week for a pattern of daily morning and evening prayer. There is too much to say about this work in this short space. Many books have been written about The Book of Common Prayer. It will take time to learn how to pray the daily office, but it’s worth it. Find an Anglican friend to teach you how to use this resource.