The best books on prayer

The Books I Picked & Why

How to Pray

By Pete Greig

How to Pray

Why this book?

With Pete Greig’s How to Pray, the subtitle says it all: A Simple Guide for Normal People. Greig is a worldwide authority on prayer, but as a self-described “scruffy Brit,” he writes in a way that makes prayer both appealing and accessible. With disarming humor and candor, Greig addresses questions we’ve all asked, from why God heals some people but not others (Greig’s wife, for example, suffers severe epilepsy) to whether or not it’s okay to pray for a parking space. (Spoiler alert:  Greig says yes to parking place prayers, since doing so equips us to live life with greater gratitude. Love that.) I have more than two dozen well-loved books about prayer on my shelf, but How to Pray might be my favorite. It is, to borrow a word from the Brits, “brilliant.”


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With Christ in the School of Prayer

By Andrew Murray

With Christ in the School of Prayer

Why this book?

If you’re looking for a well-loved prayer “classic,” you won’t find many books with more staying power than Andrew Murray’s With Christ in the School of Prayer. Murray doesn’t see prayer as one facet of the Christian life; rather, he says that it is the “root and strength” of all that we do. “Jesus never taught his disciples how to preach,” Murray writes, “only how to pray.” And the secret to a powerful prayer life is abiding in Christ—growing into his likeness—so that our lives (including our thoughts and desires) look more like his. As we enroll in Jesus’ “school of prayer", we will learn to pray in harmony with God, be equipped to impact our world, and discover the true purpose of prayer.


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Live a Praying Life!: Open Your Life to God's Power and Provision

By Jennifer Kennedy Dean

Live a Praying Life!: Open Your Life to God's Power and Provision

Why this book?

Live a Praying Life is, hands-down, my top pick when it comes to making a study of prayer. Jennifer Kennedy Dean understands that we want to know the “why” and the “how” behind prayer, and she tackles the thorny questions to equip us to persevere when it doesn’t look like the needle is moving. In looking at the lives of folks who’ve gone through more than a few tricky places (guys like Joseph, who thought he was supposed to be a ruler but wound up being sold as a slave), Dean warns us not to mistake God’s will for his ways, or confuse what he is doing with how he is doing it. We only see part of the picture. And, she writes, “We cannot control God or tell him how to accomplish his plan.” We can, however, partner with him to accomplish his best purposes—and the way that we do that is through our prayers.


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Prayer: Experiencing Awe and Intimacy with God

By Timothy Keller

Prayer: Experiencing Awe and Intimacy with God

Why this book?

Tim Keller writes for the “thinking” person, using carefully crafted logic and contemporary illustrations to bring biblical principles to life. In Prayer: Experiencing Awe and Intimacy with God, Keller appeals to skeptics, seekers, and serious students of Scripture, noting that prayer is both the key to knowing God and to genuine self-knowledge. Prayer is also, he says, how we make it “safe” for God to give us the things we most desire. Keller shows us how to pray about any number of situations—including suffering, grief, and doubt—with the blessed reassurance that God will answer—and that he will “either give us what we ask or give us what we would have asked if we knew everything he knows.”


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What Every Child Should Know about Prayer

By Nancy Guthrie

What Every Child Should Know about Prayer

Why this book?

Prayer isn’t just for grown-ups, and Nancy Guthrie invites children to experience the joy and peace that come with talking to God in her book, What Every Child Should Know about Prayer. With child-friendly language and inviting illustrations, each page in this book helps kids (and adults!) know how and why we should pray, whether we’re asking God to do something, telling him how we feel, or giving thanks for all the ways God shows us his love. As a fan of Bible-based prayers, I love the fact that every one of the lessons Guthrie teaches is rooted in Scripture, and I appreciate the simple—but oh-so-powerful—prayers she provides. I can’t wait to share this treasure with my grandchildren!


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