Book Review

a simple guide for normal people

Members of St. Mark’s who attended Spring Harvest this year – and there were a lot – came back enthused with Pete Greig’s teaching and encouraging; and a lot came back with this book – hot off the press! Now, our Book Group has read ‘nothing’ but books on prayer since our inception in late 2018; so you can imagine how thrilled some of us were, behind polite smiles, with the decision to read this new book……!

Democratic decision made. Book obtained. I took mine on holiday and read a chapter a day: 12 days away = 12 chapters. Custom written for me and, fortunately, we had rain – not a beach book!

Now, since arriving at St. Mark’s I quickly discovered that Pete Grieg’s books are only just short of compulsory reading for ALL SENT folks. So, I have read the others. Pete told them at Spring Harvest that this book, he felt, transcends his previous ones, which are all prayer centred – the 24/7 Movement, remember? Now, he tells me! But I have digressed…

Pete’s basic starting point is The Lord’s Prayer. The disciples said to Jesus “Lord, teach me (us) to pray” and Jesus reply is “I thought you’d never ask!” And He gave us TLP. Simples! (for normals).

Sermons at St. Mark’s, including one quite recently, have used Pete’s acronym: P. R. A. Y. His chapters follow this through making it simple for normal people!

His sections are:

How to Pray: Why pray & Keep it simple

Pause             slowing and centring – how to be still before God

Rejoice          adoration: how to worship God

Ask                  petition – for others – unanswered prayer

Yield               contemplation – listening – confession & reconciliation – spiritual warfare – Amen

For this last section YES! Is probably better for us than ’Yield’.

Interspersed between chapters are 10 Heroes of Prayer. These are brief portraits of someone whose life exemplifies the type of praying in the preceding chapter and many and varied they are. Good research Mr. Greig!

On the flyleaf Pete introduces things:

Everyone prays – But no-one finds it easy – We all need a little help 

This is his starting point and he does us all a service. “How to Pray” is fresh yet rooted in 2000y of Christian experience [OT on top, actually]. It is clear and totally encouraging. It is centred around the Lord’s Prayer. Pete Greig roots his advice and guidance in life as we know it – as did Jesus. His illustrations are well chosen, his personal anecdotes helpful, often poignant, and ego free. Contrary to the expectations of some, viewing his 24/7 background and ‘new’ initiatives, Pete isn’t undermining tradition. Instead, he relates his teaching to Church history and other religions, finding merit where it is to be found. This book has a lot to teach about embedment.

This is the best book on prayer that I have read. We’ve done 4 already at Book Group and when we meet later this month to discuss it, I’m sure we’ll agree that it is the best….and last on this topic for a while.

John Sargent                                    09.07.19

PS At the back of the book and the end of each chapter we are encouraged to access the online ‘Tool-shed’ [30 prayer tools] and pointed to further reading. At the end there is a guide to using this book with the 24/7 Prayer Course (8 sessions with downloadable materials).