Some books that I've read in the past on prayer have been somewhat tedious to read. In contrast, Bryan Chapell's Praying Backwards: Transform Your Prayer Life By Beginning in Jesus' Name (Grand Rapids: Baker, 2005) was both easy and profitable reading. Chapell is president of Covenant Theological Seminary and so his writing is backed up by good theology, yet he writes in a way that anyone can understand. He keeps his readers' attention, yet never loses sight of the point. I read the whole book in a single day and I'd say it's the best book I've read so far this year (out of a total of about 13).
Chapell doesn't avoid difficult questions. He squarely addresses such issues as praying without doubting with clear biblical teaching that is much needed (especially by us pentecostals; interestingly Chapell is a Presbyterian). Chapell reminds His readers that it is God that we should not be doubting, rather than our opinion what He should do. He writes about the importance of praying that God's will be done, and later comes back to help address the issue of praying within God's will.
So, what's the title all about?, you may be asking. Well, Chapell isn't arguing that we should literally pray backwards. Rather, his point is that we need to ensure that all parts of our prayers can be prayed 'in Jesus' name' rather than just adding some magic words to the end of a list of our requests. We need to make sure that all that we pray is glorifying to Christ, rather than just tacking on His name after a list of selfish requests. This isn't a book to tell you how to get what you want from God in prayer. Far from it! Chapell highlights how far removed such ideas are from true Christian prayer.
Chapell has provided us with a very helpful book. In addition to its helpful content and readability, he has also included 'key thoughts' and a prayer at the end of each chapter, which further reinforce the content and also serve as useful quick reviews and reminders.
This is far and away the best book I've yet read on the subject of prayer, and it's not only good reading, but practically helpful as well.