Books on Prayer
The subject of Prayer is always relevant. And finding good books on the subject is difficult. Here are a few recommendations.
Jesus’ Pattern of Prayer, John MacArthur, Jr. These chapters are his expositions of the Lord’s Prayer in Matthew 6. Overall, very good explanation of the prayer.
The Confessions of St. Augustine is a spiritual classic that everyone ought to read. I’ve been reading this recently, and it is a good example of turning your thought life into prayer. It also is a wonderful record of a man’s spiritual progress. You may be surprised that Augustine wrestled with a lot of things you have wrestled with.
A Call to Spiritual Reformation, D. A. Carson. This book is more scholarly than the others but is very helpful. Carson studies Paul’s prayers in his epistles, looking for what Paul teaches us about prayer. This book is head and shoulders above nearly everything else on prayer with regard to exegetical carefulness. Carson is one of the best and most clear interpreters of Scripture around.
With Christ in the School of Prayer, Andrew Murray. This is considered a classic on prayer. Read it and absorb it. It’s definitely worth your time. It also was recently published by Whitaker House in mass paperback.
Experiencing God’s Presence, Matthew Henry. Henry wrote the famous commentary, but he also wrote many other good works. This one is intensely practical and full of scriptural wisdom on how to begin, continue, and end the day with God. Henry was an heir of the Puritans, and therefore reading him is not like reading a modern-day book. But if you can survive the continual delving into Scripture, you will get a lot out of it. A search on Amazon should turn this book up. Whitaker House published it in mass market paperback not too many years ago.
The Autobiography of George Muller, George Muller. Read this at your own risk! I read it in college and have been haunted by it ever since. Nothing I have ever read (besides the Bible) has challenged me to live a life of faith like this book. It is the story of how he, a penniless preacher, started orphanages in Bristol England by the power of prayer alone. Instead of talking to people about his desire to start these orphanages, he just talked to God about it. Time and time again, in various ways, God supplied the financial means, and by the end of his life, Muller ran multiple orphanages housing 700 orphans. Here is a man who cast himself completely on God and saw Him work in marvelous ways. See also, Answers to Prayer, by Muller.
The Valley of Vision, Arthur Bennet editor. Here is an amazing book. It is a compilation of Puritan prayers. These prayers are so devotional and deep, they never fail to convict and make you think. Read it slowly and thoughtfully to deepen your understanding of relating with God in prayer. This is a book that you’ll cherish more the more you read it. It comes in bonded leather and is published by the Banner of Truth Trust.
Books on Family Roles
The Fulfilled Family, John MacArthur Jr. A top-notch book covering God’s pattern for wives, husbands, children, and parents. His discussion of gender roles is very biblical. The book concludes with a discussion of divorce and remarriage that isn’t as good as the rest of the book.
Solving Marriage Problems, Jay Adams. A book for counselors. Helps tackle areas in marriage where fallen thinking may be causing problems. Generally very helpful.
Spiritual Parenting, C. H. Spurgeon. Advice to parents and teachers on how to guide children’s spiritual development. Good, inspiring reading, though not always the most careful exposition of Scripture.
The Shaping of a Christian Family, Elisabeth Elliot. Elliot’s memoirs of her parent’s rearing her and her siblings. Many illustrations of what it looks like to raise children in the nurture and admonition of the Lord. Also illustrates godly husband/wife relationships. This book comes highly recommended. Good, but not perfect.
Books on the Spirit-filled, Godly Life
The Holy Spirit, Sinclair B. Ferguson. This book is a excellent exegetical work on the doctrine of the Spirit. It discusses issues such as “What is the Baptism of the Spirit?” “Does God still use miraculous spiritual gifts like tongues today?” “How should we relate to the Holy Spirit in our Christian lives?” “What gifts does the Spirit impart?” This book isn’t written in a warm style. It is academic. But for those who are really wanting to dig into the Scripture and see what it has to say, this is a great guide.
Holiness, J.C. Ryle. I can hardly say enough good things about this book. Read it, and you’ll never be the same. Ryle lived in the 1800s and was one of the evangelical heroes of his day. His writing combines clarity, devotion, and depth all at once. When I read it a few years back, I was tempted at times to underline every sentence on a page! It’s that good. Indispensable. Life-changing.
Changed Into His Image, Jim Berg. This book was written by the former Dean of Students at Bob Jones University. It is excellent and reflects Berg’s decades of counseling. Full of good illustrations and insight. Refreshingly biblical. This book is a gem.
Books on God
The Knowledge of the Holy, by A. W. Tozer. This is the best book Tozer ever wrote, and he wrote a lot. It doesn’t suffer from the weak interpretations found in much of his other work (including The Pursuit of God. It is full of insight and application. Short, only 128 pages. The best book on the subject that is accessible to anyone.
The Mystery of Providence, by John Flavel. Flavel was an English Puritan who lived in the 1600s. This book has been considered a classic for hundreds of years. It explores what we would call “God’s Sovereignty” in depth.
The Existence and Attributes of God, by Stephen Charnock. Here is a book that you’ll be reading for the rest of your life. Sound univiting? Only if a faithful spring of refreshment and blessing sounds uninviting. Charnock is incomparable. He was a Puritan from the 1600s and writes with a full mind and a warm heart.
The Doctrine of God, by John Frame. Charnock is timeless, but doesn’t stand on the shoulders of Hodge, Bavinck, Vos, Van Til, Clark, and others. Thus Frame will be self-consciously in touch with epistemology, and carefully considering presuppositionalism. Charnock will touch on similar ideas, but not with the precision Frame has. Frame’s book is probably better than Charnock in interpretation, theological synthesis, and the fact that it is more up-to-date. However, Charnock will excel Frame in his devotional warmth and zeal. Frame isn’t perfect, but his writing is profound and mind-expanding. If you want long-term theological training, get this book by Frame and spend a long time studying it.
Books to help foster love for Christ
The Incomparable Christ by Oswald Sanders is a good start. It is basic and will help you appreciate our Lord.
The Shadow of Calvary by Hugh Martin is outstanding. It is a rare mix of good theology and a heart of love for Christ. The first chapter is worth the price of the book. Martin wrote in the 1800s, so the language is archaic, but it is worth working through it.
The Suffering Savior by F. W. Krummacher may be the best book I’ve ever read on Christ. It is even older than Martin, but there is a power here that is rare indeed. It is hard not to be profoundly moved when reading this book. Oh, that more of the Lord’s people would walk with such men as Krummacher and Martin!