Are you looking for a new way to pray? If so, you may want to check out Larry Crabb's book The Papa Prayer. In this book, Crabb admits to considering his prayer life a weakness- "dull, intense only in crisis, occasionally meaningful but mostly lifelessly routine." Can you identify?
I chose this book as part of my summer reading for a few reasons. One, I like reading Crabb books. I connect with his ideas about God and people. Two, I was drawn to the name "Papa" in the title because I enjoy relating to God as my Father. He is a good dad, so I'm attracted to him in this way. Third, I thought this book might help me better communicate with Dad and deepen our relationship.
Crabb kicks off the book by asking his readers to consider a few questions about prayer:
- Ever ask for something from God that you didn't receive?
- Ever pray for guidance that never came?
- Ever need to hear God's voice and try to believe you did, even though you weren't sure?
- Have you ever prayed for comfort yet ended up feeling more empty and alone after you prayed?
- Has praying for strength to overcome temptation ever left you feeling just as weak and the temptation just as strong?
The answer for me is "yes" to all of the above. My interest was piqued.
Crabb devotes the first half of the book speaking to these and other questions about prayer. He begins to frame his message around the idea that we do more asking of God than relating to God, suggesting that maybe petitionary prayer should be an outflow of relational prayer. One of my favorite quotes comes from a section of the book titled, "Gimme! Gimme! Gimmie!"
"Children during a long, hot summer may know the ice cream man's name and may even greet him warmly and enjoy his smile, but the point is the ice cream. When my grandkids sit on Santa's lap in the mall, they have yet to ask Santa how he's doing, if maybe he's getting a little tired of all these kids. They hop on his lap, recite their list of desired gifts, and hop off. We Christians call it prayer."
After addressing some common questions and struggles with prayer, Crabb develops his thoughts about relational prayer in the second part of the book. Here are four quick snapshots of the ideas he shares:
- Meet God where you are, not where you pretend to be or think you should be.
- Attend to how you are experiencing God at the moment. What are you thinking or feeling about him?
- Ask God to speak into your relationships with him and others as we're all living with relational sin we do not see.
- Approach God with the desire of having him first place in your life and pursue everything else only as a second-place desire.
Crabb wraps up the book with a simple four-day plan to help assist readers with praying more relational prayers to develop deeper intimacy with Jesus.
The Papa Prayer is definitely worth the read if you're looking for a resource on prayer.