With so many books on prayer available, it's hard to know where to start or which one to read. If you've read one, have you read them all? Why should I read another book on prayer? Those thoughts are the reason that Prayer by John Onwuchekwa sets itself apart. John doesn't just focus on personal prayer, but also shows the "why" and the "how" of corporate, congregational prayer. John says in his own words, "that's the goal of this book: learning how to pray better and more as churches. Just as our private prayer lives can be improved by God's grace, so too can our corporate prayer lives."
John takes the beginning of the book to define prayer and look at biblical examples. This is extremely helpful because many people have many definitions for prayer. When we look at how people prayed in the Bible, especially Jesus, we learn a right model for our prayers.
After defining prayer and even looking briefly at what personal prayer looks like for the believer, John moves on to corporate church prayer. He first shows the importance of being a praying people when we are gathered as the body and then he talks about two things related to corporate prayer that I found to be the most helpful parts of the book: the Sunday morning service and the prayer meeting.
On Sunday mornings, our corporate prayers teach our people to pray. John highlights how we can use the ACTS model to direct our prayers. He also helpfully points out that it is ok to prepare our prayers before we pray them. We prepare for music and sermons beforehand, why not also be intentional with our prayers? This is a suggestion that had a great impact on me.
He then talks about the "need for" and the "how to" of prayer meetings. I think this is some of the most useful information in the book. We live in a day where prayer meetings are becoming a thing of the past, but John convinced me that corporate prayer is necessary for the church. I would not have been one to jump on this train before hearing his arguments. The other extremely useful part is he gives advice on how to do this for it to be most beneficial. The reader is gifted with the wisdom John has gained from his own trial and error in leading prayer meetings and his tips are highly valuable.
Pastor, elder, deacon, or congregation member would benefit from reading John Onwuchekwa's short book on prayer. It's very accessible in the way he writes and the commitment to read it is not a large one as it is a short, but useful book. Prayer is filled with great quotes, but I will leave you with a few of my favorites:
"Where prayer is present, it's saying something— it's speaking, shouting. It teaches the church that we really need the Lord. Where prayer is absent, it reinforces the assumption that we're okay without him."
"Praying with plural pronouns as Jesus taught is one of the best ways to love our neighbors because, even when they're out of sight, they should never be out of mind."
"Gethsemane means 'the olive press.' Pressed olives produced the oil that was used for centuries to anoint kings and priests. Now Jesus stepped into a time of intense pressure for his anointing."
"Prayer is mentioned no less than twenty one times in Acts. Furthermore, these prayers are inherently corporate. Whenever prayer is mentioned, it overwhelmingly involves others."
You can get your copy of Prayer by John Onwuchekwa here. It's available on August 31, 2018.