Review: The Hidden Life of Prayer by David Macintyre

What is prayer? Why should I pray? How to pray? What to pray?  

If you have these questions and are serious about your Christian’s walk, I strongly recommend this book. It is a classic that should be on the bookshelf of every professing believer.

The book itself is small. Through it is thin and unintimidating, it is packed with eye-opening and heart-convicting truths, a “one-inch punch” type of book. It will take your breath away on the first reading, and it will blow you off your feet as you meditate of them. When I was done, how ashamed was I by my lowly, casual, nonchalant view of prayer, but yet encouraged and inspired to be on my knees and in communion with God our Father.  

As a new creature in Jesus Christ, we should be yearning, seeking to be in constant communion with our Father in Heaven. What a privilege, what a gift! “Prayer is the most sublime energy of which the spirit of man is capable”. Yet so many times we see ourselves talking about Him but not talking to Him directly in private prayers, quietly in a secluded space, away from the eyes of our peers. 

“Pray earnestly”. Effective private prayer is laborious because of sin, and it requires planning, preparedness, and focus. This book skilfully and eloquently discussed the following topics with beautifully illustrated real-life applications and commentaries:

  • logistic, equipment and planning prior to prayer – quiet place, quiet set time, quiet heart.
  • realization that we are coming into the presence of our Creator, in faith but also in all honesty as He sees everything, even our secret thoughts.
  • engagement of our prayer:
    • worshipping and praising of His Holy name, recalling His dealings with us grace and mercy.
    • acknowledging the depravity of our nature, confessing of our sins in an explicit way.
    • our requests deeply rooted in faith, humble dependence on God’s grace and in conformity with the mind of Christ.
  • riches of private prayers in the serenity of spirit, in total dependence on and acceptance of the will of God.
  • “Seek, and ye shall find; ask, and ye shall receive” – the reward of prayer and not doubting that those prayers which are according to His will shall have a full answer!

My big take away from this book is: “If prayer is hindered, even though it be hindered by devotion to other duties of religion, the health of the soul is impaired”.

Let us draw near to God in full assurance of faith in prayer!

“None can believe how powerful prayer is, and what it is able to effect, but those who have learned it by experience. It is a great matter when in extreme need to take hold on prayer. I know, whenever I have prayed earnestly, that I have been amply heard, and have obtained more than I prayed for. God indeed sometimes delayed, but at last he come.” – Luther

~ Oliver Lam

This small and thin book has been very encouraging to me. It is a must read for anybody who would like to understand and make progress in the duty and privilege of prayer. It exposes and deals with many dangers and hindrances that a Christian may be encountering without realising, often by Satan. The latter, again and again, suggests to our mind pleasures, duties, reproaches – anything that would hinder us from prayer and fellowship with God. The author gave us insights on the matter from godly men like Dr. Moody Stuart, John Bunyan, John Owen, Ralph Erskine, Thomas Boston, John Livingstone of Ancrum, David Brainerd, and more.

Nothing is too small and nothing is too great to pray to our Father in heaven. Prayer is like entering within the veil into the inner sanctuary, into the presence of the Shekinah of God. Prayer is arduous and laborious, it requires energy of the spirit of the man, wrestling against principalities and powers of darkness. Prayer includes our unutterable desires, sense, longings. Many resisting forces need to be overcome if we want to prevail. Disorders and unrest of the mind, slothfulness of our nature, lack of brokenness of heart towards a specific sin, and unbelief are some of our foes. The author gives us a few helpful things in preparation to prayer: recognizing our acceptance before God through our Lord Jesus Christ, confessing and receiving the enabling grace of the Holy Spirit without whom nothing is holy, nothing is good. Faith in God is by no means easy or passive. We must believe that our Father will reward us if we diligently seek him. Prayer is owning our claim to all the glorious promises of God by faith in Christ, through the Holy Spirit. It is honest and bare heart-to-heart dealings with our Lord. 

Prayers are not always sweet and peaceful. Our Lord Jesus sometimes prayed strenuously, agonizingly, with strong crying and tears. The author gives us “The Life of Prayer”, “The Equipment”, and “The Direction of the Mind”, “The Engagement – Worship” as helpful tools in this sacred communion with our Father in heaven.

One take-away for me is the fact that we should not grieve the Holy Spirit either by not confessing at once when he shows us our sin, but also by raising up objections of vileness “under the pretence of getting a frame better founded upon humiliation”, quenching the joy that the Holy Spirit gives and provoking him to withdraw.

~ Milly Foo

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