One of my assignments for this month’s Fanning the Flame team meeting, was to read and book and write a book report. Here is my finished product.
PRAY WITH YOUR EYES OPEN
BY Richard L. Pratt, Jr.
Richard Pratt, who is a professor of Old Testament at Reformed Theological Seminary in Orlando, examines prayer by dividing it into these three basic components: God, the Believer and Communication. Each section of the book addresses one of these categories.
Looking at God
- View God through the eyes of a servant—recognize our total dependence upon Him
- Describe God as you pray—for example when you pray for guidance, you might call Him “good shepherd”; when you pray in grief, think of Him as “comforter”
- Use metaphors and comparisons in our prayers—call God “my rock” or “my shield”
- Broaden your focus by praying in detail about God’s activity in salvation history, past and present. For example, you could contemplate the details of the death and resurrection of Jesus. Thinking about the Bible story in prayer will draw you into the sweep of the divine drama that is still unfolding
- Being guided by Scripture sense God’s presence by picturing God in His heavenly dwelling.
- Remember that God is everywhere, He is with you to protect you. Imagine walking with Him in the garden, and allow Him to take you away from the worries of the world.
Looking at Ourselves
- Open your heart honestly to God, praying about all your feelings, positive and negative, without allowing the negative ones to lead you into irreverent grumbling or rebellion
- In your mind, paint a vivid picture of yourself and your circumstances: are you feeling lost in the desert, rejoicing on the mountaintop?
- Trust in God’s goodness; don’t be motivated by greed or selfishness
- Reflect on your personal blessings, and God’s care for the world
- Reflect on God’s will with a desire to see the world changed.
- Be open to God’s response.
Looking at our Communication
- Maintain a proper balance between form and freedom: because God is our father, it is appropriate to speak with Him in an informal, spontaneous way; because God is our king, it is also appropriate to plan our prayers and speak more formally
- Don’t spend so much time taking or writing down requests, that you must hurry through the actual prayer.
- Prayer should be urgent and persuasive: focus on God’s people, the world around you, and God Himself.
- Take time to tell God the story of what He has done in your life. This gives strength and joy.
- Prayer can be more than words: strong feelings may demand weeping or singing, kneeling or raising hands.
- Practice prayer—your prayer lives, like any other skill, will only develop if you practice.
- Consider taking a prayer retreat, or setting aside an entire day for prayer.
Corporate prayers can become lifeless through repetition. Some suggestions are:
- Have a special emphasis for a month, week or quarter
- Use prayer to celebrate a special occasion
- Plan a group prayer retreat
Throughout the book, Pratt relies heavily on the Psalms as examples and illustrations for his points.
I read this book quickly and that does not do it justice. Each section includes discussion questions and exercises. In our vision narrative, Beth Ann mentioned we might have small groups devoted to the study of prayer. This would be a great book to read and work through with such a group. If you read it as individually, it would be best to read one chapter a week and taking the time to journal and try some of Pratt’s suggestions.