Book Review: Praying Together, by Megan Hill
Megan Hill, Praying Together: The Priority and Privilege of Prayer in our Homes, Communities, and Churches. Crossway, 2016. 160 pps. $12.99.
“A Christian never prays alone.”
This provocative sentence opens Megan Hill’s recently published book Praying Together: The Priority and Privilege of Prayer in our Homes, Communities, and Churches. Hill then writes: “Prayer is an activity of relationship: God and us, God and God, all of us and our God.”
Are you someone who struggles to pray? Read this book. Are you someone who wonders whether it’s worth the often costly sacrifice to join mid-week with other saints to pray? Read this book. Are you a parent who desires to demonstrate to your children what being a follower of Christ looks like? Read this book. Are you meeting with other believers who are struggling to find joy as you pray together? Read this book. This valuable resource can be read quickly, in one sitting. Yet it’s also the kind of book you can—and perhaps should—read very slowly, poring over its pages as you stop and reflect on your own personal prayer life and the prayer life of your church.
When I meet with women and ask about their spiritual disciplines, I’m often met with comments like, “My prayer life isn’t where I want it to be” or “I often find it difficult to pray.” While there are other excellent resources available, which Hill herself mentions, there isn’t one I can think of that covers the privilege and responsibility we have as Christians and church members to actually pray together. After only a few pages, I couldn’t wait for our small Wednesday night prayer group to gather again so I too could participate in this gift of praying together. Hill masterfully does the work of making a daunting task seem tremendously appealing.
Filled with wonderful personal antidotes and reflections on her upbringing as a pastor’s daughter and now a pastor’s wife, Hill offers valuable insight into the goings-on of church life and its inherent challenges. Though not written solely for people in ministry, her personal experiences help her apply practical insight for those involved in vocational ministry.
PART 1: THE FOUNDATIONS OF PRAYING TOGETHER
The book’s first chapters look at “why” we pray. Hill stresses the vital nature of prayer’s “relationship” component, arguing we do indeed pray according to our relationship with God. But prayer is more than vertical because we also pray together as a means of uniting our hearts with other believers while, awaiting our eternal future as a family. Hill looks forward to this future when she writes, “Praying together foreshadows our heavenly future when we will join that ‘great multitude that no one could number, from every nation, from all tribes and peoples and languages, standing before the throne and before the Lamb, clothed in white robes, with palm branches in their hands, and crying out with a loud voice’” (27). At this point, you may want to throw the book down and shout, “Amen!”
The next two chapters cover the duty we have to pray together and the promises we cling to as we do. Their greatest strength is how drenched in Scripture they are. Hill looks across redemptive history and notes: “Praying together has marked the spiritual liveliness of God’s gathered people. . . . When we pray together, we declare in the hearing of others who our God is—we build an area in which to showcase God’s sovereign work and his gracious character. Our corporate prayers demonstrate that we are a people who know our God and who delight in his ways” (31, 47).
PART 2: THE FRUITS OF PRAYING TOGETHER
In the second section, Hill takes us through some of the results of consistent corporate prayer. She notices that praying together promotes deep love for others, mutual discipleship, and the incredible gift of revival. If the first section doesn’t motivate you to join brothers and sisters in the active work of praying together, then this next section certainly will:
“We are a band of brothers. United in love for our common Savior, joined in his common cause of prayer for both friends and enemies, we find our affections kindled and our hearts warmed toward one another. . . . We who gave God no rest on earth, asking for his blessing, will give him no rest in eternity, thanking him for his answer” (64, 87) .
PART 3: THE PRACTICE OF PRAYING TOGETHER
After establishing the foundations and enumerating the fruits of praying together, Hill takes us on a pleasant tour of exactly how to make this kind of praying together a reality, a practice as normal as breathing. She fills the pages with personal examples and illustrations which make these applications come to life all the more.
In addition to the main content, Hill provides extensive footnotes and a bibliography, a rarity for a 125-page book. There’s also a substantial scripture index—and with study notes and questions containing other scriptural references, Hill’s book is well-suited for both personal reflection and group study. This would also be a fantastic tool to use for personal discipling with other believers.
What gifts we’ve been given—to pray together, to watch God work together, to long for his second coming together. I’m deeply thankful for our sister, Megan Hill, and how she reminds us of the “priority and privilege of prayer in our homes, communities, and churches.” Grab a copy of Praying Together and let your heart be jolted by the truth of this powerful calling we have to pray together as brothers and sisters in Christ.
And who knows, maybe the next time you find yourself wanting to say, “I’ll pray for you,” you’ll instead stop and say, “Let’s pray right now.”