“What is the best book on ____________?” I see and hear that question asked all the time. You fill in the blank: spiritual warfare, baptism, the local church, preaching, etc. It’s a question, of course, that invites highly subjective answers. Where I might recommend The Compelling Community as a book on the local church, someone else might recommend What is a Healthy Church? Furthermore, your answer is likely going to be determined on what you are currently reading and enjoying, or what you recently read and enjoyed.
When it comes to the matter of prayer, it is even more difficult. With the plethora of books out there on prayer, how can you possibly recommend “the best” one?
With that said, it is certainly helpful to be have something of a shortlist of books to recommend for people on various subjects.
When it comes to prayer, my go-to recommendation for a long time has been The Secret Key to Heaven by Thomas Brooks. This Puritan paperback is an excellent treatment of private prayer. Brooks argues powerfully, passionately and biblically for the need for Christians to enter their closet and pray.
But that is a book on private prayer. Private prayer is one element of a healthy and necessary prayer life. The other side of the coin is corporate prayer. The Bible calls for Christians to pray together. If you were to ask me today for my recommendation of a book about corporate prayer, I would without hesitation suggest Praying Together by Megan Hill. In this excellent book, Ms. Hill argues powerfully, passionately and biblically for the need for Christians to gather together to pray.
One of the striking features of this book is its deep theology. The author argues for prayer in a very God-centred and scriptural fashion. There is no fluff here, only rich, meaningful theology. Her burden is to argue for the priority and privilege of corporate prayer—in the home, in the community, and in the church. She takes a threefold approach to the subject.
In the first section of the book, Ms. Hill lays the theological and scriptural foundation for the practice of corporate prayer. Prayer should flow from a deep relationship with God, should be considered a Christian duty, and should be spurred by the promises of God.
In the second section, Ms. Hill tackles some of the fruits of praying together. Corporate prayer, she argues, increases our love for one another, furthers our discipleship, and invites the hope of genuine revival.
In the third part of her book, Ms. Hill gets very practical, helping us to understand the practice of praying together. She offers meaningful scriptural insight into what it means to pray as a church, to pray in groups, and to pray with family and guests.
The book also includes a handy set of study questions for those who would use the book in a book study setting.
The chapter on praying together as a church is worth the cost of the book alone, but there is much more to be had than that chapter. The theological foundation that the author lays for corporate prayer is crucial for Christians everywhere to understand. But it is also clear that she writes not only theologically, but experientially. The words you will read in this book come from the pen of a woman who not only knows her Bible, but who knows what it is to pray together.
This is not a feel-good book, but one that is thoroughly God-centred. It is therefore a book that has the potential to cultivate a very real and sustainable prayer life.
In his commendation of the book, Derek Thomas says it well: “Could it be that this book is God’s instrument in reviving among us a healthy, vigorous, infectious prayer life—prayer partnerships—that will redirect the course of this world? I think it possible. I pray that it is.”
Megan Hill is a pastor’s daughter and a pastor’s wife who, with God’s help, takes care of her three children and writes a few words every day. Her husband, Rob, is the pastor of West Springfield Covenant Community Church (PCA) in West Springfield, Massachusetts. She believes her “job” as a pastor’s wife is simply to love and encourage Christ’s church. She doesn’t play the piano or organise the women’s ministry, but is thankful for the opportunity to participate in the ordinary life of the church and to see the name of Christ exalted there.
Outside of her local church, Megan enjoys writing and speaking in a variety of contexts. She serves on the editorial board for Christianity Today and is a regular contributor to Her.meneutics and The Gospel Coalition. Additionally, she is the author of articles for Tabletalk, Focus on the Family, Christianity Today, byFaith, Desiring God, The Aquila Report, The Clarion-Ledger, Challies.com, The Ethics and Religious Liberty Commission, reformation21, The Council for Biblical Manhood and Womanhood, 9Marks Journal, and Whole Magazine.