About once a year or so a popular level book comes along that's so good I just can't help recommending it to everyone. Last year it was David Murray's Jesus On Every Page, and the year before that Mike Reeves' The Good God. They're the sort of books that I can't wait to re-read, that I can't stop myself from urging other people to pick up, and of which I end up joyfully giving multiple copies as gifts. That's the sort of good I'm talking about when I say that Tim Chester's new book, You Can Pray, is good.
Now, Tim Chester has form here; I've never read a Tim Chester book which I haven't thought was really good, but this is perhaps his best yet (at least out of the one's I've read). You Can Pray doesn't just start out strong, but continues consistently strongly right to the end. It is, at the same time, thoroughly biblical, profoundly theological (but not pretentiously so), and immensely helpful and practical (in all the right ways). It's also very clearly and simply written. I wouldn't hesitate to give it to a brand new Christian, or one of the teenagers in church. And still, at the same time, I'd be equally happy recommending it to the most mature of saints, the most experienced of pastors, or the most high-powered of denominational leaders. It really is a book for everyone that can be easily read by everyone. I read the whole thing in an evening.
But not only is the book suitable and readable for all, it's also a book that encourages you to pray. And when I say encourage, I don't mean in the sort of 'guilt you into it' way that can so often be the case. No, this is a book that shows so clearly how, why, and for what we pray that it simply provokes you into prayer in a good way.
I've taught on prayer, preached on prayer, and read lots of books on prayer. Many of the books on prayer that I've read have been helpful, some very helpful; but this is the most well-rounded, consistently helpful, clear, gospel-rooted book on prayer that I know. And this is the book I would recommend without the slightest hesitation to anyone who asks me for something to read to help them in prayer.
I could give you lots of wonderful quotes, but I won't. Instead, I think the table of contents is probably the best way to give you an indication of what the book's about. So here it is:
Part 1: Why Prayer is Easy (How we pray)
1. The Father Loves to Hear Us Pray
2. The Son Makes Every Prayer Pleasing to God
3. The Spirit Helps Us as we Pray
Part 2: Why Prayer is Hard (Why we pray)
4. 'I've got more enjoyable things to do.'
5. 'I've got more urgent things to do.'
6. 'When I needed him, God didn't answer.'
7. The Battle to Pray - and how to win it
Part 3: What We Pray
8. The Arguments of Prayer
9. The Priorities of Prayer: God's Glory
10. The Priorities of Prayer: Our Needs
And here's a quick video introduction from the author himself: