Monday, January 20, 2014

BookPastor >> "The Plain Man's Book of Prayers" (William Barclay)

TITLE: Plain Mans Book of Prayers
AUTHOR: William Barclay
PUBLISHER: Glasgow, Great Britain, Fontana Books, 1959, (128 pages).

This is one of my favourite prayer books. Written by the esteemed Scottish theologian and scholar, the prayers are aimed at the "plain man" or the layperson. Saying that prayer is the "most natural ability" we can ever have, Barclay understands that it too is something that needs to be taught. He makes the case that:

  • God is more than willing to give, even more than our desire to ask;
  • We need to be honest with God;
  • Be definite in our prayers, especially when it comes to confessing our sins;
  • Without self-examination, there is no real prayer;
  • Prayer is not making use of God, but availing ourselves to be used by God, according to God's wisdom and glory.
Barclay highlights five great divisions of prayer. First, there is the invocation which is the inviting in to "help us realize" that God is already present. We do not invite on the basis of saying God is there. We invite ourselves to be ready before an ever-ready God. Second, there is confession where we pour ourselves out before God, be specific in our sorrys and honest about our sorrows. Third, there is the natural outflow of thanksgiving. This attitude is important because it is a recognition that God has given us so much, and we are only able to be aware of so little. Fourth, there is petition in which we ask God for the basic things we need to live on, our common cares and concerns. In petition, we do not ask God on the basis of what we need. We ask God on the basis of seeking to understand God's will even in the light of our needs. Fifth, there is intercession. In the Christian community, no man is an island. We need one another. In intercession, we stand in solidarity with one another to ask God to help people that we cannot normally help. 

The prayers are then laid out in terms of a full month's prayer; a special Sunday prayer for four consecutive Sundays; prayers for special occasions on the ups and downs of life; and a list of Bible readings that can be read individually as well as communally. Clearly laid out and easy to use, the prayers can be a very helpful resource when designing liturgical readings, giving family prayers, or at prayer meetings.

Rating: 5 stars of 5.

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