There are dozens, if not hundreds of books written on prayer, and trying to determine the best books on prayer is no easy task.
You may be thinking, Why do we need to read books on prayer? Can’t we just pray?
Yes and no. When it comes to learning how to pray, there is no substitute for regular, consistent prayer. But the Bible also has a fair amount to say about prayer, and reading the best books on prayer can be a helpful way of learning the finer points of prayer.
So without further ado, here are the 7 best books on prayer that every Christian should read.
1. A Praying Life: Connecting With God In A Distracting World by Paul Miller
This is, hands down, the best book on prayer I’ve read. It’s incredibly insightful, extremely practical, and very realistic. If you’ve ever struggled to cultivate your prayer life, this book will give you the boost you need. I highly recommend it.
Choice Quote: Prayer is asking God to incarnate, to get dirty in your life. Yes, the eternal God scrubs floors. For sure we know he washes feet. So take Jesus at his word. Ask him. Tell him what you want. Get dirty. Write out your prayer requests; don’t mindlessly drift through life on the American narcotic of busyness. If you try to seize the day, the day will eventually break you. Seize the corner of his garment and don’t let go until he blesses you. He will reshape the day.
2. The Valley of Vision: A Collection of Puritan Prayers and Devotions by Arthur Bennett
You might think it strange to include a collection of Puritan prayers in the best books on prayer, but once you start reading it you’ll know why I included it. The prayers are absolutely beautiful and have a way of drawing your heart to God. You can use each prayer as your own, letting them stir your affections for God.
Choice Quote: Work in me more profound and abiding repentance;
Give me the fullness of godly grief, that trembles and fears, yet ever trust and loves, which is ever powerful, and ever confident; Grant through the tears of repentance I may see more clearly the brightness and glories of the saving cross.
3. Prayer: Experiencing Awe and Intimacy With God by Tim Keller
You should read everything Tim Keller writes, including his wonderful book on prayer. Keller is, in some ways, similar to C.S. Lewis in the way he writes. He is both incredibly deep and insightful, while at the same time, highly practical. If you want to develop both your theology of prayer while at the same time learn how to pray, this is the book for you.
Choice Quote: Prayer is how God gives us so many of the unimaginable things he has for us. Indeed, prayer makes it safe for God to give us many of the things we most desire. It is the way we know God, the way we finally treat God as God. Prayer is simply the key to everything we need to do and be in life. We must learn to pray. We have to.
4. The Complete Works of E.M. Bounds on Prayer by E.M. Bounds
I would be remiss if I didn’t include something by E.M. Bounds in this list of the best books on prayer. When you read Bounds, it’s obvious that the man really, truly prayed. He wrestled with God, and as a result, is able to teach others about both the absolute necessity and overwhelming power of prayer.
Choice Quote: What the Church needs to-day is not more machinery or better, not new organizations or more and novel methods, but men whom the Holy Ghost can use – men of prayer, men mighty in prayer. The Holy Ghost does not flow through methods, but through men. He does not come on machinery, but on men. He does not anoint plans, but men – men of prayer.
5. Praying With Paul: A Call To Spiritual Reformation by D.A. Carson
Have you ever noticed how often the apostle Paul talks about his prayers? In almost every one of his letters, he tells the recipients how he is praying for them. Additionally, he opens many of his epistles with specific prayers of thanks for the recipients. We can learn much about prayer from the example of Paul. In this excellent book on prayer, D.A. Carson examines the prayers of Paul and draws out excellent insights. If you want to learn to pray like Paul, read this book.
Choice Quote: He prefers that his people live in disciplined gratitude and holy joy rather than in pushy self-reliance and glitzy happiness. He wants us to pursue daily death, not self-fulfillment, for the latter leads to death, while the former leads to life. These essential values of the gospel must shape our praying, as they shape Paul’s. Indeed, they become the ground for our praying (“For this reason . . . I pray”): it is a wonderful comfort, a marvelous boost to faith, to know that you are praying in line with the declared will of almighty God.
6. Praying The Bible by Donald Whitney
To state the obvious, the absolute best book on prayer is the Bible. It would make sense, then, that we would learn to pray from the Bible itself, and that’s exactly what this book seeks to accomplish. This book teaches the reader how to pray through actual passages of scripture, one line at a time. If you’ve every struggled with knowing what to pray, this book will be helpful.
Choice Quote: So basically what you are doing is taking words that originated in the heart and mind of God and circulating them through your heart and mind back to God. By this means his words become the wings of your prayers.
7. Everyday Prayers: 365 Days To A Gospel-Centered Faith by Scotty Smith
Scotty Smith strikes me as a guy who understands two fundamental truths: 1) Life is hard 2) God is greater. These two truths are reflected in this book of his written prayers. If you want to pray rich, truth-filled, gospel-centered prayers that will strengthen you as you walk through the challenges of life, this is the book for you.
Choice Quote: Father, I cannot add one minute to my life through worry. In fact, I can take a lot away from my life through trying to carry burdens you alone can carry. Turn my “What ifs?” into “Now thats”—now that Jesus has risen from the dead, everything has changed.
Read The Best Books On Prayer…And Then Pray
I would be remiss if I didn’t point out that the point of this list is ultimately to get you to pray. Yes, you should read the best books on prayer. But if that doesn’t translate into you actually praying…you get the point.
So take up and read!