by Herman Hanko
The book “When You Pray – Scripture’s Teaching on Prayer” was written by Herman Hanko, Professor Emeritus of the Theological School of the Protestant Reformed Churches. It was published by the Reformed Free Publishing Association in 2006. It contains 170 pages and has a hard cover.
Many of us would have read the book “Far above rubies – today’s virtuous woman” which was edited by Prof. Hanko. Here is another book by the same author. This book is full of wise instruction in the ‘holy art’ of prayer, and what child of God could not profit from such instruction?
The author approaches the subject of prayer in a sincere, honest and humble manner.
When the disciples ask our Lord “teach us to pray” then the Lord did not only teach them how to pray but also what to pray. I quote from the preface of Rev Hanko’s book:
“The disciples’ request strikes a responsive chord in the heart of the child of God. How often in our own life is it not true that we are conscious of our need for instruction in prayer? When we urgently and in humble consciousness of our own inability to pray come to the Lord with the same request as the disciples, the Lord hears this request and teaches us how to pray. His instruction comes to us through the Holy Scriptures. To sit at Christ’s feet is to study Scripture, for Scripture is Christ’s word to us. The Holy Scriptures are filled from cover to cover with such instruction”.
You, the reader, will discover as you read chapter after chapter that the questions you have about your own praying are common to all Christians - although they may differ on account of the circumstances. The solutions, too, are applicable to us all, because they are found in Scripture.
The author’s deep insight in the Scriptures becomes evident as we read about topics such as: God’s mercy towards imperfect prayers, respect in prayer, humility and boldness, forgiveness of sins including our own sinful nature and corporate sins and praying in the company of the brothers and sisters.
There is also a very instructive chapter on family prayer and teaching one’s children to pray.
Perseverance in prayer is covered quite extensively with a section about Jacob’s wrestling with God, the parable of the friend at midnight, the parable of the persistent widow as well as the request of the Syro-Phoenician woman.
And, of course, no book on the subject of prayer would be complete without a discussion on the Lord’s Prayer.
It will be very profitable to read this book, in part or in whole, with your family, or with your spouse. It will certainly be worthwhile to savour it by yourself and practise some of the suggestions in it.
We all know how difficult it can be to avoid distractions during our prayers. The author suggests that praying out loud in our private prayers will be an excellent remedy. It will keep your thoughts from wandering. Even the great Reformer Martin Luther often prayed out loud.
The author’s thought-provoking insights will stimulate the reader to do some thinking and Scriptural study (a Scripture Index is added in the book for your convenience). Reading the book will no doubt contribute to spiritual growth.
”When you Pray” is well worth reading and highly recommended.
Review by L. Schoof