Writing a book was never really a goal of mine. Vocationally, I have always self-identified as preacher first, content to read what other people have written.
But three years into pastoring my church in South Louisiana, I experienced a dynamic shift in my prayer life. I discovered an approach to prayer that was a bit foreign to me, but once I experienced it I couldn’t get enough. This shift in prayer set me on a course that began to slowly transform my marriage, my parenting, and my approach to life and ministry.
Not long after, I decided to begin teaching the people in my church what I was discovering about prayer. Every couple months or so, I began hosting “prayer workshops” in my living room. I would take 8-12 people at a time and teach about prayer for three hours on a Saturday morning.
As people have attended these prayer workshops, it has been so encouraging to hear stories from many who have experienced a similar transformation in their own prayer lives. As word began to spread, other pastors and leaders from around my region began inviting me to come share with their people what I’ve been learning about prayer. Teaching about prayer has become my favorite thing I do as a pastor.
One of my goals in writing Healthy Prayer is to inspire you to come to a place where you are more consistently and passionately coming to God in prayer. I really believe my most fundamental task as a pastor is to equip people to come to God on their own—to cultivate a first-hand spirituality.
One reason I am so passionate about this is because I believe that most Christians struggle with prayer. If we were to take a scientific poll of weekly church-attendees and find out what percentage of them spend at least ten minutes a day in focused prayer, I’m inclined to believe the number would be alarmingly low.
Obviously, this alone is an issue of concern. But let’s dig a little deeper. Why is it that people pray so little? There may be many reasons, of course. As one who has spent much time providing spiritual counsel to others, it is my observation that we frequently bring wrong expectations to prayer. Prayer is often seen as a way to get God to do what we think he ought to do. And when that doesn’t seem to happen as consistently as we’d like, we become frustrated and perhaps a bit disillusioned with prayer itself.
One of the most compelling requests made throughout the Biblical narrative comes from one of the twelve disciples. “Lord, teach us to pray.” These are men who had been around prayer their entire lives. Presumably, at least some of them had been attending synagogue weekly since childhood. Prayer was not an unfamiliar concept to them. But they knew on some intuitive level that something was missing. And they had enough courage and desire to lean forward and ask the question—“Will you teach us?”
I certainly don’t claim to be some sort of prayer guru. But by the grace of God and through the help of others, I’ve been able to tap into some truths about prayer that I cannot help but share with as many people as I can.
I know what it’s like to struggle with prayer. I know what it’s like to feel as if I’m praying in circles, never getting anywhere. But I have also learned what prayer is like when it is approached in a healthy way.
Throughout this book I will be sharing about the beauty of integrating the elements of structure, silence, and spontaneity into your prayer life. This approach is nothing new. It’s as old as prayer itself.
Perhaps one or more of these elements may be unfamiliar to your prayer life. But I have come to believe that all three of them are essential to healthy prayer.
So I invite you to join me on what I hope will be an amazing journey with God that will slowly and organically begin to transform every aspect of your life.
(This is the preface to Healthy Prayer adapted for this blog. For ordering information, click here.)