Clearance Sale on Intercession Books

Prayer Synchroblog

I need more bookshelves in my house. In our main living area, I only have a small bookshelf that holds about 60 books. In my basement office/store room I have more bookshelves, where I keep quite a few other books.

Over time, it seems like books begin accumulating in piles around the house – quite a few on my nightstand, some near the sofas, little stacks here and there, handy to grab and read.

About once a year, I do the book shuffle. During the book shuffle, the books I am currently most interested in go in the little bookshelf. This means that some books that were on the bookshelf get demoted to the basement.

Yesterday I took 22 books on prayer down to the basement. They will join another dozen or more books about prayer. With all these books, I must have the prayer thing down, right?

Actually, it has always been something that I wish I were better at. Surely one of those books has the key to effective prayer so that I could feel like I’m really doing it right. So why are the books headed to the basement?

Most of the titles were some combination of the words Power, Prayer, Keys, Secret, Prophetic, Effective, and Intercession. They are good books, but leave me feeling like I have to pray well in order for God to hear me.

I don’t think the point of prayer is about what I say or how I say it. I don’t think that God needs me to pray a certain way. I know that the Father already knows my needs before I pray. In fact, I don’t think that God needs me to pray at all.

But I need to pray. And I need to worship. Apparently my memory is short, because I need to continually remind myself of the goodness and faithfulness of God, and I need to frequently remember to submit my heart to Him.

So how do I pray? Mostly informally and spontaneously.

When I have quiet time, I like to put on a worship CD and spend time in the Lord’s presence, mostly just listening for Him.

I pray at random times throughout the day. If I’m out walking alone, I usually pray. Quite often I pray in my van. As things come up during the day, I will pray. I try to pray right away if possible when I feel the need to pray for someone or something so that I won’t forget. I usually drift off to sleep at the end of the day while praying.

Frequently, I find myself praying the Lord’s prayer, or at least starting out there. I love praying “thy kingdom come” and applying it to situations. Other than that, my prayers are mostly conversational, sharing my thoughts or worries with the Lord, usually praying in the Spirit also.

Prayer is important to me. Spending time talking with God helps me get perspective. Just a few moments with Him can center and balance me, whereas hours of pondering or fretting leaves my thoughts spinning in circles. Just a word from Him, spoken to my heart, really is like bread to sustain me or like water to quench my thirst.

I admire people with flowery sounding prayers. There is something to be said for those who pray well, who know the bases that need to be covered, and who somehow manage to address all of the angles.

I don’t like praying publicly now. My prayers are too simplistic. I seem to have forgotten the good prayer lingo. I don’t really need it when it’s just me and God, but I sometimes feel like I ought to have something fancier to pull out for other folks.

I’m still learning to pray, but for now I’m going to put away the books and let the Holy Spirit be my Teacher. What I say in prayer is not as important as what I hear in prayer.

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20 thoughts on “Clearance Sale on Intercession Books

  1. I admire people with flowery sounding prayers. There is something to be said for those who pray well, who know the bases that need to be covered, and who somehow manage to address all of the angles.

    I’m not so sure anymore. Over the years, the more intimate my relationship with Father, the more I feel that He does not want my flowery prayers. Consider these 2 prayers.

    “Father, my Creator, I beseech thy everlasting glory this night. Pain is in my soul and has risen to great heights. Lord in your power and authority would you come and calm my wounds with your healing salve so that I might rise again with eagles wings in the care of your Almighty hand. In Jesus’ name I pray. Amen.”

    or

    “Daddy, I scraped me knee… *cry*”

    Which of these would you want to here from YOUR sons mouth? Which is going to cause you to react faster, with more concern, with more outpoured love?

    The journey I am on has me believing the latter. Over the years I have dropped the flowery language. It is rather humbling. I can pray like the best of them. But now my new Christian brothers pray prayers that sound more eloquent than I. Some of them even think I am not very good at prayer. Actually, I feel more connected with the heart of God than ever before.

    Anyway, just thought I would share.

    Israel Anderson from God’s iPod.

  2. I’m so glad you posted on this, I was looking forward to what you would say.

    “What I say in prayer is not as important as what I hear in prayer.” Thanks so much for the reminder, because so often those “prayer/intercession books” focus on what we do in prayer rather than what God will say/do.

    “They are good books, but leave me feeling like I have to pray well in order for God to hear me.” It’s so nice when we realize this isn’t true.

    And that’s so funny, I just moved a bunch of “those books” to my basement, Wonder how many we have the same?

  3. Books, goodness, I have too many books like you – many end up getting sent to a thrift shop!

    I loved your final line “what I say is not as important as what I hear in prayer” This is so true, I think it’s a basic thing that some of us forget.

    Thanks for taking part.

  4. I hear ya on the books on prayer thing….I don’t quite have as many as you but I don’t think you mean to have a contest :)

    You said “I don’t like praying publicly now. My prayers are too simplistic. I seem to have forgotten the good prayer lingo. I don’t really need it when it’s just me and God, but I sometimes feel like I ought to have something fancier to pull out for other folks.” Ole Hallesby in his classic book “Prayer” says in essence that you praying from the heart in your simplistic way have in many ways prayed the best. I would give the entire quote but my niece is sleeping in the room the book is in and I don’t think she would appreciate me waking her up to find a quote :)

  5. grace- great post! let that “good prayer lingo” stay forgotten. youi’ve got it down. i say- move those books beyond the basement… ;-) (but then again- I’m a thrower and I know you’re a saver)

  6. Cindy had asked me to contribute so on Friday I looked at amazon.com for all the books that came up when you typed in intecessory prayer. Sigh, over 3,000 titles.

    Seems silly when Jesus only has a few words to say on the subject. – Like how do we expect to have even more to say.

    I too loved the phrase, what I say is not as important as what I hear.
    Thanks
    Former Leader

  7. Grace,

    You said that your prayers are “Mostly informally and spontaneously.” That’s the way I normally talk to my friends too. :)

    -Alan

  8. I wanted to highlight on item in your post

    What I say in prayer is not as important as what I hear in prayer.

    Too many people forget to have listening as part of their prayers.

  9. thanks erin, your post reminds me of the book ‘too busy too pray’ that i have on my bookshelf and remains there as i am too busy to read it.

    less book smarts more spirit sensitivity would be great to have – the thing that encourages me the most is the thought that Jesus and the Spirit are praying continually and invite us to join in with them rather than start a whole new stream of consciousness…

  10. In addition … in a recent book I was reading; the author spoke of a coworker who was asked to do a conference on prayer. Here was his response.

    We don’t need conferences on prayer. We need people to pray. People don’t need notebooks on how to pray for spiritual a2akeninh; they need the encouragement to seek the heart of God.

  11. Jeff, while I believe in the gift of tongues, I’m not gifted in interpretation.

    What, pray tell, is “a2akeninh;”??

  12. Oh, wait. Maybe I do have that gift after all.

    A few more seconds of looking at the typewriter keyboard, and I finally figured out it was the word “awakening” with a few stray fingers.

    Man, that really stumped me for a while!! LOL

  13. Too bad most of our books are in storage. I’m sure I’d have some books for your basement collection!

    I can relate to a lot of what you said. I don’t like to pray in public either anymore. I think that there’s a whole different dynamic to group prayer that I haven’t experienced yet.

  14. Hopeful Spirit,
    Thank you so much. I can’t seem to load your web page today, but I’ll keep trying.

    Israel,
    It has been interesting in reading the synchroblog to hear that many of the participants use simple conversational prayer personally and something more “embellished” in public. It seems that’s exactly what Jesus told us not to do. Maybe in demonstrating simplicity in prayer, it can actually be an encouragement to others to not have to sound impressive. Thanks for sharing your thoughts.

    Erin, Lyn, and Cindy,
    You did a great job in organizing the synchroblog. It has been interesting reading so many of the different posts and seeing the similarity in thought. I was careful to not read any before I posted, but I’ve been amazed at the common threads in so many of the posts.

    inheritor,
    No, not a competition, and if it were apparently Brother Maynard would win. He posted that he has 42 books on prayer.

    I think that it is a sign of maturity when we finally “get real” with God and realize that we can trust Him with our honest thoughts.

    Barb,
    It was quite a flashback reading all of the terms and phrases you listed regarding prayer. Been there, done that. It is amazing how we can complicate the simple things of God.

    Alan,
    So true. I loved your thoughts about an ongoing 3-way conversation that recognizes God’s presence as a part of all that we do. What an amazing description of unceasing prayer.

    Jeff,
    Yes, I think prayer is one of the things you only learn by doing, and if we’re only reading, perhaps we are avoiding doing.

    Steve,
    Good job! I attempted an interpretation and failed, so I’m glad to see you functioning in that gift. ;)

    Mary,
    Interesting thought about another dynamic to group prayer that we’ve not yet experienced. Hmmm.
    Shouldn’t you be packing?!

  15. Yep, It is quite amazing what happens when we take a time out of life and just listen! Recently, I was allowing everything in my life get in the way of that prayer life or relationship with God so I went camping. Just me. Lake, nature, trees, & hiking. It was great to get away from the chaos that was in my life to redevelope that relationship. To get rid of the static so that I can just listen!

  16. I can relate to the stacks of books. I used to be obsessed with learning to pray correctly. God wasn’t impressed with the prayer lists, the language. I think He has enjoyed my enjoying the companionship I have found in prayer now.

  17. Travis,
    I love the idea of getting rid of the static. I feel like that when I get time at home alone. I love the peace and quiet and having control of what’s playing on the CD player.

    Cynthia,
    Great point, I think He really does enjoy us enjoying being with Him.

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