I like Tim Chester, and I like prayer. I’m also fond of UCCF and IVP, and so getting this excellent new book for a bargain price at the Forum Midlands bookstall was a double win in many ways. Chester is a well known thoughtful evangelical preacher, leader, and prolific author. He’s written books on a variety of topics, and this, echoing perhaps an earlier title of his, ‘You Can Change’, is a welcome addition to his roster.
This book is a great balancing act – of Spirit and Word, of theological reflection and pastoral carefulness. The fruit of Chester’s thinking on the Holy Spirit – like one of his previous books – is clear, as is much reflection on the way that prayer works. This is the first popular level book on prayer I’ve read which really grapples with some of the big questions. If you’ve ever wondered how a pastor-theologian might start to answer questions around the tension of prayer and sovereignty, etc, then this might be a helpful book for you.
I’ve alluded to Chester’s usage of the Bible in You Can Pray, and this leads me to probably one of my favourite features of the book. At the end of every chapter, Chester provides a prayer based very clearly on a biblical passage. This is really helpful – I think there is huge value in our own prayers, but praying scripture, and praying set prayers, are helpful ways to ensure that we are praying well, and give us options when we don’t feel able to easily pray ourselves.
I’ve deliberately kept this review brief! I am genuinely going to recommend You Can Pray widely, as it is a book on one of my favourite topics that actually moves the conversation forward. Chester is careful, thoughtful, bold and biblical, and this is certainly my favourite book on prayer I’ve read in 2014, and up there with others overall. Highly recommended.