Book Brief: “Pray Big”
You may have heard the buzz around Alistair Begg’s new book, Pray Big: Learn to Pray Like an Apostle. But have you heard why it’s getting so much attention? Whether you struggle with prayer—wondering if your prayers make a difference—or you believe your prayer life is as good as it can get, Begg offers many helpful insights.
The aim of Pray Big isn’t to provide strategies for prioritizing prayer. Instead, readers are nudged toward praying spiritually-rich, God-dependent prayers. Typically, Begg says, our prayers are tentative, self-centered, or seek to make a deal with God. To overcome these tendencies, Begg directs our attention to two of Paul’s prayers in his letter to the Ephesians. These prayers (found in 1:16-21; 3:14-21) provide models for praying less about “the practical details of this life” and more about “the spiritual realities of our eternal life” (31).
What does it mean to pray about spiritual realities? Begg identifies these five qualities:
- Pray for focus: “Faith in Christ is first of all a decisive act, and then it is a sustained attitude. It is to have your heart-eyes opened to who Jesus is and what he has done; and then it is to have your heart-eyes more and more focused on the glory of Jesus, so you live more and more in light of that” (46).
- Pray for hope: “The life of Jesus, the death of Jesus, the resurrection of Jesus, the ascension of Jesus—each says to us, I’ve got your room ready for you. In this certain hope lies the Christian’s hope and confidence and excitement. We know our best days are all ahead of us. We know that death isn’t the end of the best time of our life; it’s the start of it” (54-55).
- Pray for riches: “It is to God, into the vast reservoir of the riches of his glory, that we go first, and out of the abundance of his provision and in anticipation of one day living in his full, unshielded glory, the other things fall into line” (60).
- Pray for power: “When you come to the end of your power, that is where you find his. And when you do, you’ll find that it is immeasurable and therefore that it is enough” (71).
- Pray for love: “Christ’s love is measured by contemplating the depth to which he went to secure our salvation and the height to which he was then exalted. But whatever way we seek to try to get our heads further around the love of Christ, the main and the plain thing is surely obvious: his love is limitless, in every way” (77).
Praying through these five qualities will transform our prayer life, because God is able to do far more abundantly than all that we ask or think, according to the power at work within us (Eph. 3:20).