Two thought-provoking books on prayer
The Daniel Prayer by Anne Graham Lotz and Chris Band's On My Knees cannot fail to improve our understanding of prayer and its potential
The Daniel Prayer
By Anne Graham Lotz
Hodder and Stoughton
ISBN: 978-0-340-90852 5
On My Knees
By Chris Band
ISBN: 978 0 85721 775 2
Reviewer: The Revd Martin Poole
If all the books written on prayer were placed end to end they would stretch…(to heaven and back?).
The reason for this is obvious. Few if any believer would say they were happy with their prayer life, and thus the offerings from Anne Graham Lotz and Chris Band are relevant for all those seeking to deepen this vital aspect of our journey of faith.
Anne is of course Billy Graham’s daughter, described as “the best preacher in her family” by her father and there are occasional insights into Graham family life that not only illuminate a point but are interesting in themselves.
Anne’s book stems from a yearning to see her own nation of America pull back from its “hell bent charge into the miry pits of sin and secularism”. She takes the reader through a detailed exposition – fully alliterated – of Daniel's prayer (Dan 9: 1-23), where she perceives that Daniel is similarly occupied, praying for his nation now captive in Babylon with God’s city Jerusalem destroyed. Such an approach, if taken up by the Christian community should bring revival.
While the theme of revival in the USA is ever present, the focus continually spills over into personal prayer times where all aspects of life are brought into the precious sanctuary of prayer. There is a very powerful chapter on “Pleading with Confession”, recognising the link between repentance and prayer. She also has written a beautiful prayer of contrition - that is truly worth a slow, prayerful pondering.
Chris Band’s book approaches the subject of prayer drawing heavily on responses from his own congregation to their own experiences of prayer. These are often raw, inconsistent comments that highlight the difficulties many believers encounter.
Chris starts by inviting the reader to consider the theology of prayer by posing hard questions. He asks how our understanding of God’s gift of free will can allow prayers to be answered that require the actions of others to be restricted. He responds by arguing that the gift of freewill is not necessarily the gift of free rein.
The other obstacle concerns God’s foreknowledge – if God knows how it will all work out, how can my prayer change anything? While Chris acknowledges that prayer can change us and align us more with God’s will, he refuses to see that as the whole answer fearing that prayer essentially ends up as no more than a conversation with oneself. Cleverly using a sat nav as an illustration, he reminds us that when we take a wrong turn the sat nav does not switch off but finds another route to our destination.
There follows an analysis of types of prayer from “please find me a parking place” to changing the world where he touches on the focus of Anne’s book – the Daniel prayer. Chris also gives a useful understanding of the need for the consistently neglected prayer meeting where we share in prayer with others.
The book concludes with an encouraging section on the faith requirement which is permitted to be small as a mustard seed, but has the potential to move mountains. Chris’s book also usefully includes the option to download a group study guide to assist in discussing each chapter.
I have found both books to be helpful and thought provoking. I would liken Anne’s tidily arranged discourse to be the showroom brochure, while Chris’s offering is more like a workshop manual. Refined or rugged both books cannot fail to improve our understanding of prayer and its potential.
Martin Poole (Retired Baptist minister having served the churches of Tabernacle Penarth, Godalming and Eastleigh)