Book Review - Pray With Your Eyes Open

Simon Vibert

What is it? “Pray with your Eyes Open” by Richard Pratt (P&R publishing 1987)  [ISBN: 0-87552-378-1]

What’s it about? Renewing our prayer with insights from the Psalms

Who’s it for? Any Christian concern to refresh their prayer life, and do something about its frustrations and private failures.

What’s it like? A bit like, “A Call to Spiritual Reformation” by D.A.Carson.

Best insight? More fully utilising the varied and uncommon ways can help us develop a new awareness and interest in God.

Favourite quote? “As we contemplate the wonder of God’s character, fascination for Him will grow and grow!”

One line summary? A practical biblical way to rediscover through prayer the God whom we honour.

How do you rate it? *****

Sell it to me?

This book has an unfortunate title on its spine: "Pray with your eyes open  Pratt", which makes it fun to recommend to others with a wry smile. In essence, the book is an exposition of practical prayer particularly from words of the Psalms, communicated in an accessible style and with real honesty about the challenges many of us face in our prayer lives. The chapters are helpfully supported by practical exercises for 'doing something' about what you read, and are helpful illustrated to clarify points. Yet it is not a book of 'techniques', so much as a stimulation to deeper communion with God, by getting us to look again at our prayer lives under three main sections: looking at God, looking at ourselves and looking at our communication.

The first section focuses on how prayer for the Psalmists was not formal repetition, but a fascination with who God is, what he has done and his presence with us. By reflecting on the huge variety of names for God, and the way the Psalms rehearse his works, the book gives genuine help to those wanting to live out the call to know and enjoy Him forever.

The second section does what many books on prayer fail to face honestly, and that is the impact of our own personal situations on our expression of prayer. The Psalms are a rich mine of varied personal experience provoking prayer, and the reality of our situation "between times", awaiting the consummation of our hope, helps us to understand how to face the positive and negative experiences of our lives prayerfully.

The final section brings a biblical perspective to how we pray with God, whether formally or spontaneously, the way we communicate our petitions or gratitude, and even the non-verbal aspects of our praying. The whole section is still very much focussed on developing communion with God, so it is refreshing to have biblical reflection on things as practical as posture. Sadly, the last chapter, summing up approaches to private and corporate prayer, is rather weak, but there are some very useful appendices on God's names and attributes as a catalyst for more creative prayer.

Overall, this book fills a very helpful niche for those who want to deepen their communion with God in prayer. Fresh, biblical and practical, it is especially worthwhile for those whose prayer life is need of renewal or revival. It won't answer every question, but will open your eyes to the prayers of the Psalms, and the God to whom all prayer is to be directed. I'd highly recommend it.