I read J.C. Ryle's book Do You Pray? and you should too.
Let me give you a few reasons:
- It's very readable, both in its length and tone so you'll have no troubles.
- It also isn't going to guilt-trip you about something that you're already aware is a weakness. Instead, he comes alongside you as a brother in Christ and a pastor, and he encourages us towards the goal.
- It deals with a topic that is almost too obvious.
To which you might say:
'I want to be reading Christian books that are weighty and significant. Surely I should instead be choosing books on niche topics, books that broaden my Christian thinking. Books which delve into new and interesting territory, books which will be great conversation starters for me amongst my Christian friends.'
All of which can be true and good, but only once we have the basics in place.
In Ryle's short book he puts his finger on an embarrassing truth—that despite how significant it is to be able to pray to the God who made us, despite how important we know that it is for our Christian life, and despite how much of the Bible encourages us towards it - most of us simply aren't praying.
It is the magnitude of the topic multiplied by its neglect which makes this book so important for us to be reading. And a topic we need to learn to be honest about together. I don't know if you've had a Christian friend tell you that they haven't prayed at all the past week—what an embarrassing thing to admit—and yet it's surely been true of us, and pretending won't make it go away. It's these basic elements of what it means to know and follow Jesus that we have to not simply know about, but get on and do if we are going to see any growth.
It's a great book. Here are some quotes to get you enthused for reading it:
God does not have any silent children
The vital question is whether you can speak to God as well as about him.
[If] we never speak to God ... we live like creatures without souls
Prayer achieves things that would otherwise be completely impossible and out of reach.
Do you genuinely want to grow in grace and be a truly holy Christian? If you do, there is no more important question than this: Do you pray?
We have a friend who is longing to help us if we will talk to him about our troubles. He is the perfect friend. A friend who showed his concern for the poor, the sick, and the heavy-hearted when he lived on earth. A friend who knows our hearts because he lived as one of us for thirty-three years. A friend who can weep with those who weep because he was a 'man of sorrows', a 'man of suffering' and was 'acquainted with grief.' A friend who can help us, because there is no pain he cannot cure, no difficulty he cannot deal with. That friend is Jesus Christ. And the way to be happy is to open our hearts to him, always, every day.