One day Jesus was praying in a certain place. When he finished, one of his disciples said to him, “Lord, teach us to pray, just as John taught his disciples” (Luke 11:1).
When Jesus’ disciples asked, “Lord, Teach us to pray,” Jesus didn’t respond by recommending a book. He gave them a prayer.
There’s an important lesson in that for us. Praying is far more important than reading about or studying prayer. Jesus wants us to pray, to live in fellowship and conversation with God. He doesn’t want us to merely discuss or study or think about praying.
And yet, we are nevertheless students of prayer. Better said, as we follow Jesus we become life-long learners of the practice of prayer. There’s no graduation date. There’s no black belt that tells the world we have attained expertise in prayer. As long as we live on this earth, we are learning what it means to have fellowship with God through a life of prayer.
For that reason, I’m grateful for the many resources available to us that help us grow in prayer. None of these resources can ever substitute for prayer. But they can deepen our insights and stoke our desire for prayer.
To that end, today I’m ending this “prayer boot camp” by listing a few of the resources that I’ve found most helpful. I’m not claiming that these are the “best.” I’m just giving you a place to start in the hope that something here could be as beneficial to you as it has been to me.
“The Bible App” (YouVersion)
This is a great place to start because it’s a resource that won’t cost you a dime, assuming you have a smart phone. I can’t really begin to describe every feature of this app – but a lengthy menu of Bible translations and Bible reading plans tops the list. You could spend a long time just swiping through the various reading plans.
A few other favorite features:
- Verse of the day notification that you can schedule to come up when you want it.
- Being able to highlight a verse and then select “compare,” bringing up multiple English translations of that verse.
- Being able to select a plan and invite someone to read it with you. YouVersion is how Marnie and I read the Bible together. Right now we’re making our way through Luke-Acts.
Lectio 365 (phone app)
If you’re not quite sure what it means to “pray the scriptures” you need this app on your phone. Every day a new installment is released, and you can use the audio feature to listen to someone read a short scripture text and then pray through it. The daily prayers don’t take very long at all. Every week has a theme for the readings and prayers. It’s like having a prayer coach in your pocket.
Seeking God’s Face: Praying With the Bible Through the Year (by Philip Reinders)
This is a book that gives you a pattern of prayer and Bible reading for each day of the year. I think of it as a Protestant adaptation of what Catholics and Anglicans call the “Daily Office.” Each day provides a Psalm reading, a selection from Old or New Testaments, suggestions for guided prayer, and a benediction.
A couple of days ago I told you that the guiding principle behind this short “boot camp” was placing structure around your practice of prayer. For structure, you can’t do better than this book. One flaw: recent editions of the book have made the size more compact and thus the print is small. I don’t really like that – but if you can manage the small print, this book is gold.
A Habit Called Faith: 40 Days in the Bible to Find and Follow Jesus (by Jen Pollock Michel).
This book is written to give you 40 daily readings that will take you through the book of Deuteronomy and the Gospel of John. It is a 40-day master class on how to read the Bible in such a way that it leads you to prayer.
If you need a resource to help you rest, read, and reflect, this is a great place to start.
Praying the Bible (by Donald Whitney)
Remember: there’s no meaningful prayer apart from Bible reading.
And there’s no fruitful Bible reading apart from prayer.
This little book by Don Whitney will show you exactly how those two things are related. The gift in this book is its practicality. Whitney tells you how to pray the Bible, almost taking you by the hand and walking you through examples and exercises that help you take what you read and turn it into to prayer back to God.
This is a practice that will keep us “from saying the same old thing about the same old things” when we pray (Whitney’s words).
Next we’ll return to the text of The Lord’s Prayer, spending a few days with “Give us this day our daily bread.”
In the meantime, keep praying.
Lord Jesus, when you taught your first followers to pray, you didn’t give them a book. But in your providence, you have blessed us with more books than we know what to do with. We ask you to make us faithful and diligent students of prayer – but not merely students. Make us people who pray. Amen.
One thought on “Prayer Boot Camp: Training Tools”
Thank you for these resources Mark. I always love reading your emails! I’ll be sharing this with our Life Group tonight as we are studying “The Pursuit of Holiness” book right now.