Skip to content ↓

Book Review – When You Pray

Book Reviews Collection cover image

When I was a child my parents explained to me how important it is to make time every day for reading the Bible and praying. Wanting to please them, and knowing it was the right thing to do, I began to have a brief period of devotions each day before bed. I do not remember a whole lot about how I conducted these devotions, but I do remember struggling with whether or not it was acceptable to pray the Lord’s Prayer instead of praying a personal prayer. Though it is given by Jesus as a model of prayer, for some reason it seemed to me to be a lazy option. When I was tired and worn out after a long day of saving the world or teasing my sisters, I’d often collapse into bed, pray the Lord’s Prayer, and fall asleep. In so doing I treated the Lord’s Prayer as a magic prayer that contains power simply because it comes directly from Scripture. I put little of my heart and little of my mind into the prayer.

Of course there is nothing wrong with praying the Lord’s Prayer. While it may serve primarily as a model of prayer, it is a wonderfully profound, yet simple prayer and one we would all do well to study and meditate upon. When You Pray by Philip Ryken is a helpful tool for doing just this (Note: the book was published in 2000 by Crossway under the same title. It has been reissued in 2006 by P&R Publishing Company). It is “a practical exposition of the Lord’s Prayer from Scripture. The more we pray, the more deeply we are drawn into communion with God. And the more we study the Lord’s Prayer, the better we are able to pray. So perhaps an exposition such as this one can help us draw closer to our heavenly Father.”

The book begins with three chapters dealing with how we are to pray. Ryken teaches first how to pray like a hypocrite, then how to preach like an orphan, and finally how to pray like God’s own dear child. Ten chapters follow, each of which discusses one of the phrases or petitions of the Prayer, beginning of course with “Our Father in Heaven and closing with “The Power and the Glory.” Ryken shows how this prayer can be prayed as-is, but also how it ought to model our other prayers. It is easy to read and simple to digest and with fairly short chapters it is ideally suited for use with personal devotions or for group study (and, in fact, there are useful study questions at the end of each of the chapters).

When You Pray is the kind of book that may slip by almost unnoticed, and this is a shame, for it is an excellent resource. It is one that is well worth reading and will doubtless prove a valuable addition to any library. I enjoyed it a great deal and am glad to recommend it to you.


  • The Night Is Far Gone

    The Night Is Far Gone

    There are few things in life more shameful than sleeping when you ought to be working, or slacking off when you ought to be diligent. When your calling is to be active, it is inappropriate and even sinful to remain passive. This is especially true when it comes to contexts that are of the highest…

  • A La Carte Collection cover image

    A La Carte (April 15)

    A La Carte: Personal reflections on the 2024 eclipse / New earth books / 7 questions that teens need to answer / Was there really no death before the fall? / How to be humble instead of looking humble / Kindle deals / and more.

  • Exactly the Purpose God Intended

    Exactly the Purpose God Intended

    General revelation serves exactly the purpose God intended for it—it reveals his power and divine nature. But, its message, while important, is insufficient—insufficient by design. Though general revelation tells us about the existence of God, it does not tell us about how to be reconciled to God.

  • A La Carte Collection cover image

    Weekend A La Carte (April 13)

    A La Carte: The pain of being single; the love that holds me fast / The Christian response to cultural catastrophe / The reduction of public Bible reading / All Things (a new song) / Why should I go to church? / and more.

  • Free Stuff Fridays (Moody Publishers)

    This giveaway is sponsored by Moody Publishers, who also sponsored the blog last week with Overflowing Mercies. Attention all Bible scholars, believers in the power of faith, and lovers of the Word! Learn about God’s divine mercy and compassion with our exclusive Bible Study Giveaway. Win the ultimate bible study library including Overflowing Mercies by…

  • How Should We Then Die

    How Should We Then Die?

    Euthanasia makes a lot of sense. At least in our culture at this time, it makes intuitive sense that those who are ill without hope for a cure or those who are in pain without likelihood of relief ought to be able to choose to end their own lives. Our culture assumes there are few…