Pete Greig is the founder of the 24/7 prayer movement. As a movement that has been around for over 20 years and replicated all around the world. In an interview with the Renovaré Book Club, Greig said that he finally feels capable of writing this type of book after writing several previous books on disappointment with God, unanswered prayer, and facing his wife’s cancer.
I have had both positive and negative interactions with forms of the 24/7 prayer movement. Aspects take God’s power seriously, and devotion and parts seem to focus on thinking about prayer in ways that seem more akin to magic. There also elements of the 24/17 movement that dabble in Dominanist theology and are more like Christian Nationalists than I am comfortable with.
That being said, I did not see the negative aspects of 24/7 prayer in this book, although I would not have phrased some parts of prayer as he did. I am a real believer in the importance and power of prayer, even if I am reluctant around many abuses of prayer. The point of prayer for me is a relationship with God. To focus on power of prayer places the result of a relationship before the relationship. It is not the same, but it feels related to sex outside of marriage. Sex is designed for marriage as a bonding agent and procreation. But sex outside of marriage changes the purpose and instrumentalizes sex to distort the relationship over the long term.
In a not dissimilar way, focus on prayer and the use of prayer outside of the relationship with God orients prayer toward what we can get from God. Many talk about the lack of miracles as primarily about a lack of faith or a result of secularism and disbelief of the possibility of miracles. While I don’t want to dismiss that concern, I think the more significant problem may be a culture of viewing relationships more through the lens of utility and instrumentality than through the idea of the good of the relationship in and of itself.
All of that to say, the primary purpose presented here is prayer as relationship building. The rest of prayer is an outgrowth of that. Pete Greig tells good stories and creates a sense of possibility with prayer. And for me, the biggest test of the quality of a book about prayer is whether it encourages me actually to pray. This book did.
As part of prayer exploration, he covers nine types of prayer: Centering, Adoration, Petition, Intercession, Listening, Confession, and Spiritual Warfare. I am for exploring prayer and thinking about it well, but prayer will always be more about learning by doing more than learning through theory and academics. How to Pray is practically focused and helpful in ways that I think that prayer books should be. It is easy to read about prayer and not pray. Still, there are many useful suggestions here and many online tools referenced if you want to go into more depth on particular interest topics.