Prayer: How Praying Together Shapes the Church by John Onwuchekwa

The book is Prayer: How Praying Together Shapes the Church by John Onwuchekwa. It was published in 2018 by Crossway. I read the first edition hardcover. It’s part of a series called 9 Marks. After reading this one I’d definitely like to finish the series. 

I read this book because my church has asked me to lead a prayer group on Sundays before service. I already had the book on my shelf. I think it was part of a stack of books I got in a swag bag from a T4G conference I didn’t attend. Some people from our church went and brought back a few large tote bags that came with the conference ticket and gave them to readers in the church. Excellent resources. 

I liked that it was a short book. 127 pages. That’s always good. It’s brevity was helpful in that it was clear and straightforward. Books on prayer could get a little woo woo and wordy with a bunch of “spirituality.” But Onwuchekwa emphasises that we should start with God’s word when we pray. 

He stresses the point that we should be praying as a church more. Not just little prayer blips between music and sermon so that transition of people on stage isn’t so awkward. He warns against filler prayers like that. Praying together is important. Jesus teaches us to pray “Our Father…” That “our” makes it a collective effort. 

He talks about how God can say no to things that aren’t sins, but would still fuel our idolatry. Like if a man is idolizing marriage, and is asking for a wife, God could say no because it’s an idol for that man. 

Another really great point is when he talks about how just because God is able to do something we’re asking him to do, it doesn’t mean he has to do that. Trusting God through that is the key to having real peace. When we ask God to cure a loved one, or to get a life-changing job, but resolving to still trust him no matter what ends up happening, that’s where true peace is found, and only there. 

There were times when he got a little cheesy with the writing, not bad, but some churchy, preachery language. But that’s okay. He’s a pastor. It comes with the territory. He was also very down to earth, even bemoaning for the reader, “another book on prayer?” He knows what he’s doing and how it’s usually received, and works against that prejudice. 

Also, maybe it was too short. I could’ve seen some of these ideas fleshed out a bit more. 

Onquchekwa was a joy to read. He explained his points very clearly. It was organized and layed out well. 

I learned that group prayer in churches is more important than I thought it was. 

There was nothing heretical. Sound doctrine throughout. Or at least no alarm bells rang off for me. 

I’d recommend this to any Christian who is looking to improve their prayer life, particularly how they view church group prayer. I know to some people (like me) the thought of church group night of prayer sounds super boring. No food? No Music? Just people sitting around praying? Yikes! This book is for you.

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