A few years ago I sat in a hotel lobby with a writer-friend and chatted about books we thought about writing. She mentioned her interest in writing on the subject of prayer and her hesitancy despite several friends’ encouragement. She pointed to countless books already written on the subject by more notable authors than herself. Why should she add to the list of books on prayer?
After making a few stereotypically smart aleck Lindsey-like remarks (which she lovingly pokes fun at me for in the forward of her book), I encouraged her to pursue the endeavor of writing for people like me. I didn’t grow up listening to robust prayers, learning the background of prayer in the church, and whole-heartedly attending prayer meetings. Praying together has always seemed intimidating to me and often caused me to shy away. I knew Megan would do a superb job at addressing the subject in an approachable way while whetting my appetite for a ravenous life of prayer.
Megan Hill’s new book “Praying Together: The Priority and Privilege of Prayer In Our Homes, Communities, and Churches” will encourage believers in any season of life to take up the call to pray together for the glorious cause of Christ. It’s like sitting down with a very wise friend over a cup of coffee, to hear about all the ways God has enriched her life (and the lives of countless others throughout history) through praying with the saints as she calls you to passionately and fervently join her.
At a short 125 pages, the book is an easily accessible quick read. It’s divided into three helpful sections: The Foundations of Praying Together, The Fruits of Praying Together, and The Practice of Praying Together. I appreciate the way Megan organizes her content as it gives the reader a good foundation of understanding why it is we should both desire and feel called to the obligation of praying together, while also pointing us toward the hope of God’s good promises to us through our prayers.
One of the most personally enlightening sections of the book was found in Part 2: The Fruits of Praying Together, on the subject of discipleship. I hadn’t previously considered praying together as an important tool in being discipled and discipling others. However, when I think back on my own personal growth as a believer, I can quickly recognize how my lack of confidence in prayer was directly related to my lack of observation of believers with rich prayer lives. It was only when I began to surround myself with believers who regularly voiced rich, thoughtful, and theologically articulate prayers that my own prayer life began to blossom. Megan writes:
“In praying together we disciple one another: we strengthen one another’s faith, testify to our experiences of God, shape one another’s repentance and desires, stir one another to thanksgiving, and encourage one another in godly habits. In these things, too, we also help one another to resist various temptations to sin. Brothers and sisters, praying together is a school for the whole Christian life.” (p.70)
I also appreciated the encouragement to pursue the practice of prayer together on a regular basis by “fostering a culture of prayer.”
“In a culture enamored of spontaneity and so-called authenticity, it is important for us to realize that we must first form the habit of praying together before we will instinctively pray together in all the little moments of our days.”
I’ve been all too guilty of living a life of haphazard prayer with others. I pray with friends or brothers and sisters in the faith on a whim in the church hallway, with a group before a trip, or over a certain subject, but when it comes to thoughtful, ongoing, organized petitioning – I often fall short. I have found prayer meetings boring and unattractive instead of essential and vital to growing in my prayer life and in my obedience to Christ. I feel this book has helped me to identify and correct an area of weakness in my own thinking and practice.
Put ‘Praying Together’ to Practice
If you are looking to understand the power of praying together within the Church, I highly recommend this book. I plan to incorporate it as a text I use to disciple women. I should also note that it comes with helpful study questions at the end of the book that you could use to discuss in a group, perhaps as a precursor to forming your own prayer group!
I am thankful for Megan Hill and that she decided to stop worrying about all the other existing books on prayer and chose to bring her A-game to write on the subject of praying together. She nailed it. In closing, I borrow Megan’s final call to action – “Brothers and sisters, let us pray!”