One of the most strategic things a Christian can do is to pray. Prayer has been referred to as a Christian’s lifeblood. It is hard to be a growing Christian without an active prayer life; however, to grow properly, the early disciples are not the only ones who needed to know how to pray.
I have read many books on prayer over the years and found much help in most of them, especially the reminder to pray and to pray correctly. While it is true that God knows our hearts, even when we do not articulate our prayers in the best way, and he reads our hearts as the primary indicator of our sincerity in prayer, we need to know how to pray in the right way.
To underscore this point Bryan Chapell suggests that the best way to keep our priorities straight in prayer, rather than end in the customary, “in Jesus name” is to start with that phrase to emphasize the importance of reordering our priorities in prayer. Properly done, prayer is a key reminder that it is not about us but about God. It is so easy to start with ourselves, our needs, and requests only to be discouraged and lose heart. Starting with God, however, sets our minds on the truth that God is who he says he is and will do what he says he will do.
Chapell develops this novel approach, though it is not really novel to all, to help us think through the whole exercise of prayer and how we enter into it. His opening question, “How would your prayer change if you began where you normally end?” Throughout the ten chapters and conclusion, Chapell, in his easily readable style, unwraps and answers this question. His main thesis is praying backwards will help us reorder our priorities and keep the focus on God. I begin by praying this prayer for Jesus sake, says Chapell, will make our prayers less self-oriented and more Christ directed, more blessed and more satisfying to our hearts. It is something like following Jesus instruction “to seek first his kingdom…” which will cause us to focus on God and His kingdom. That has a way of changing, tweaking, or readjusting our priorities in all of life, including our prayers.
Given my definition of a kingdom disciple, as one who thinks God’s thoughts after him and applies them to all of life, I appreciated his emphasis and reminder that “In biblical prayer, we think God’s thoughts after him.”
This book is challenging, practical, and able to assist you in thinking more intentionally about prayer. We discussed several of the chapters in our CEP staff devotions and benefited greatly from the studies.