As pastors, we pray publicly and privately, personally and professionally. We pray with our teams and staff members and pray for those we serve. Other people ask us to pray for them and want to know how they should pray. Prayer sustains us but can sometimes become just another part of our job. And if we lose the fire in our own prayer life, then we may limit our ability to teach others to pray.
We have plenty of books on prayer, perhaps more than any other faith-based topic. Inspiration isn’t the problem—most people are sufficiently inspired and want to make prayer central to their relationship with God. And yet they don’t know how to prioritize prayer into their lifestyles. People aren’t uninspired about prayer—they’re uninformed about how to pray.
Which is why I wrote Pray First. Based on what I’ve learned about prayer over the past forty years, this book shares what I’ve used to motivate tens of thousands of people to pray. There are seven models of prayer drawn from the Bible that I use every day—they reveal ways to focus and improve how we communicate with God. And growing closer to God and maturing in our faith depends on talking to Him frequently throughout each day.
Prayer is the lifeblood of our faith, not an optional vitamin. I often overhear people, especially in hospital waiting rooms, say, “Well, I guess there’s nothing left to do but pray.” Similarly, I’ve met with families in crisis and hear the same refrain. Even some of my fellow pastors have told me sometimes that prayer is the only thing we can do. But prayer is also the best thing we can do.
- Too often, prayer becomes our last resort.
- But God wants prayer to be our first response.
God wants us to view prayer as the vibrant foundation of our relationship with Him. As shepherds of those entrusted to us, we can then help them discover that a lifestyle of prayer is the secret to an authentic Christian life. How do we make prayer a lifestyle? By weaving it into the fabric of our daily lives as we make it the priority God intended.
Once we realize how talking and listening to God draws us closer, we enjoy the intimacy we’ve longed to experience. We follow the model Jesus gave us for how we should pray (Matthew 6:9-13). We know the peace that passes all human understanding (Philippians 4:7) and take shelter in the unconditional love (Romans 8:38-39) of our Heavenly Father. Prayer also allows us to discover God’s plan for our lives. We see how relying on our relationship with Him is the only way to accomplish all that He has created us to do in this life.
Prayer is not just for worship services, Sunday school, quiet times and mealtimes. Prayer is for all times. Communicating with God throughout your day, every day, brings Him into everything and everyone you encounter.
- When you pray first, you keep in constant contact with Almighty God, the Creator of Heaven and Earth, your Abba Father, your lavishly loving Papa.
- When you pray first, you have access to God the Father through Jesus the Son, who has paid the price for your sin and now intercedes on your behalf without ceasing.
- When you pray first, the Holy Spirit sticks with you closer than any friend and helps you pray when you don’t even know how to express yourself with words.
- When you pray first, your faith matures and you bear the spiritual fruit God has planted in you.
- When you pray first, you can help others learn how to pray as well.
HOW TO USE THIS BOOK
Prayer is essential for personal growth as well as the health of the church. Having the right prayer resources at the right times can make a huge difference in your own prayer life as well as the lives of those you serve. Pray First serves as a relevant, how-to resource that can be used by all followers of Jesus. The basics of prayer are covered along with models of prayer based on Scripture and the role of fasting. This book teaches what to pray and how to pray, not just why you should pray.
Chris Hodges, senior pastor of Church of the Highlands and bestselling author, has created an indispensable field guide to prayer that you can use and recommend with complete confidence. Enriching your own prayer life will ignite the prayer lives of those around you—your staff, team members, church leaders, and small groups. In addition, a five-session group study of Pray First, complete with video teaching and participants’ guide, is also available. Check out Session One below.