The book, Pray A to Z: A Practical Guide to Pray For Your Community, arose from a need by the author to engage in meaningful prayer for those around her, and not “fly-by”prayer.
Author Amelia Rhodes realized one day that she had more prayer requests than she had time for, and was subsequently falling behind. Her heart was to fully participate in lifting others up in prayer, so she sought the Lord’s advice on this matter.
As Rhodes became more disciplined in her prayer life, an idea began to take shape. She realized that many of the people she knew were struggling with the same topics, so praying by topic seemed to be a natural fit for her. Then, she attempted to compile an A-Z list of the needs and struggles facing our communities.
Pray A to Z: A Practical Guide to Pray for Your Community covers common topics ranging from the somewhat “controversial” tough topics, to more common ones on love, thanksgiving, etc. Readers can find topics alphabetically and pray for those who need them- or even yourself!
Each topic is uniquely structured to encourage prayer and to easily facilitate prayer points. It opens with scripture. Then there is a paragraph underneath wherein you can dissect the topic into prayer points over that individual. For example, under “New Believers”:
“Pray for new believers in your community to grow in maturity and deepen their knowledge of God. Pray they will stand firm when they face temptation to return to their old ways of life, and ask God to show how you can come alongside them as they grow in faith. Pray that God will protect their minds and hearts from the enemy and give them a hunger for His Word.” (excerpt taken from page 81).
Individual believers or even prayer groups can use this paragraph as prayer points. It can be dissected to:
- Pray for new believers to grow in their faith and in scripture.
- Pray for them to stand firm in their new found faith and not waiver nor be tempted to return back to the old.
- Ask God to guide them down the path that He has chosen for them and to grow their faith.
- Prayer for protection against wiles of the enemy and for them to hunger for a deeper relationship with God.
For those who are just beginnning to pray, or are new in the faith, the third paragraph has a prayer that can be prayed out as you continue to grow out your faith and learn to pray.
In addition to the unique structuring of each individual topic for prayer, each letter of the alphabet covers five topics. The first three prayers in each letter contain petitions to God over an issue, and the last two are praises to God. Praying for God to move over an individual’s circumstance is wonderful, however, we should always maintain an attitude of gratefulness and praise God as well. This book accomplishes both of these tasks.
I enjoyed this book on many levels, and I think that it has a brilliant design. It is not aimed at a particular level of a Christian walk ie. new in the faith, intermediate, mature Christian, but encompasses all of them which allows people to mature in how they pray by offering a structure thereby growing their faith.
If you are a a new believer, you aren’t necessarily fluent in memorizing scripture yet, nor do you necessarily know all of God’s promises. This leaves many people feeling ill-equipped to pray over someone- even though they want to. So, because of this, many refrain from praying into someone else’s life.
Pray A-Z makes this so easy! New believers are able to stand on a scripture in their prayers, and the book walks them through what to pray over in a very logical sequence. It even gives them a prayer that they can pray over a situation. This empowers them, and it enables them to grow in their faith walk.
It’s great for small groups or mature believers as you can disect it into prayer points over a situation and take authority. It helps you pray a prayer that encompasses all sides of a situation, and encourages you to pray over your community- a task not many of us do.
It takes more challenging topics and will often pray for the person, pray for the family that are affected, and pray for the support resources. For example, under “bullying”, prayer is for the individual, for the teachers to have their eyes opened to the situation and be a support, and over the bully itself to soften their heart. It doesn’t just pray over the individual, but over all involved.
The book will not teach you how to pray, as such, but is more of a guideline in praying and to deepen your prayer life.
The content itself is solid, well structured, and well designed. It covers all bases, and is very thorough. For myself, I would have liked to see the topics by letters of the alphabet structured differently. I would have opened with the prayers praising God before going into the petitions. We should always come to God with a thankful heart first because these prayers make us grateful for what we have. Then, when we go into our petitions, it removes the negative emotion that may be attached to it.
When we open with praise and thanksgiving, we are more apt to receive wisdom from God when we petition Him on behalf of ourselves or someone we know. When we petition first, we don’t necessarily come with a totally open heart to receive because we can get caught up in the emotion of the situation- especially if it is a “hot topic” or it is happening to someone very close to us. Praise opens us up spiritually to receive.
Pray A to Z is a wonderful book for every level of believer. It will engage you in praying over those you know, and your community. It will expand your prayer life as you begin to be pluralistic in your prayers as opposed to being singular- you will pray over all facets of a situation as opposed to “God, please move over this situation in this believer’s life.”.
Our prayer should not just be “fix this problem”, but move into “solve this problem for all involved”. We can pray for God to move in a person’s life, but rarely does an issue just affect one person. We often forget to pray over family that has been negatively affected, and over support groups. We sometimes fail to pray over all aspects of a situation. This book will help you to broaden your thinking to encompass all aspects of the prayer for the “victim” in many cases, the stressor (in the case of bullying, the bully), and over those in authority to take action.
We know that the “victim” in this case desperately needs help, so we pray for them. However, sometimes we fail to pray over the person causing the issue properly. In the case of bullying, for example, someone may pray for the child to be removed from the school, their classroom to change, etc. However, sometimes we don’t pray for the child who may have a legitimate reason for this behavior ie. wanting attention, challenging home life, etc.
We also need to pray for those who have authority over a situation- that they are aware a situation exists. If we do not pray that their eyes are opened, how can we expect things to change for the better? We can only operate in the knowledge that we have. Things can’t change if they are never prayed into existence, and this book helps readers do exactly that.
I think that Pray A to Z is a powerful tool in getting readers to pray logically and effectively over a situation. It is a powerful resource to both an individual reader and for small groups. I think many people’s faith will grow as a result, and we will see our communities change for the Lord.