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The Secret to Prayer Author Q&A

Andy Whisenant | Apr 29th

Why did you write this book? What inspired you to write it?

I wrote this book because I’m convinced people don’t pray due to a kind of spiritual paralysis caused by fear of not “doing” prayer the right way. As a result, people either quit or just never start. However, the Bible is full of beautiful stories whereby God invites us to pray to him with only one caveat: the one praying must pray from a humble heart. In “The Secret to Prayer,” I’ve invited the reader to journey with me and experience those biblical stories.  

For whom did you write this book?

I wrote this book for my wife and kids. Life is hard, and prayer might be all we have at times. That said, I wanted them to know prayer isn’t so scary or intimidating. I wrote this book for my dad. He always complained that my first book was too hard to read, and he couldn’t understand what he called those “big words” I was using. He was being dramatic of course. Even though this book is totally different than the first, I wrote this book because I wanted him to be able to understand it—and enjoy it. I wrote this book for my students. I get to teach a generation of individuals that will lead us forward, and as they do that, I want them to pray. I want them to understand what God is interested in prayer. Sometimes my students complain that books on theology can be boring, and lots of them avoid reading the Bible for the same reason. I kept that in mind as I wrote this book. Of course I want the reader to learn new things about prayer, but I also really want them to enjoy their time reading this book. If reading “The Secret to Prayer” hasn’t moved you emotionally, I will not have accomplished my goal.

What are some struggles that Christians face with prayer? How does this book help them deal with those?

Christians struggle because they think there are magical words one must use only in prayer. And they aren’t sure how to get them or find them. So they don’t pray. 

Christians struggle with insecurities, for example, they think if they open their eyes in prayer it will somehow void the effectiveness in prayer.

Christians struggle in prayer because they believe that God already knows everything, so why pray? 

Christians struggle in prayer because they think if God hasn’t responded to them audibly, then God must not have heard them or care about their prayer. 

Christians struggle with prayer because they think they may be asking for the wrong thing. And if the prayer is wrong, what if God answers that prayer and they receive something bad.

This book interacts with these kinds of questions (and more!) and reveals God’s true heart in prayer. The secret to prayer is that God is more concerned with the heart that is producing your prayers than the mechanics we attempt to employ. When we begin to understand prayer in light of who God is, the one praying is set free to engage with God in prayer, who is eager to listen and respond. 

Why is it important for Christians to focus on having the right heart posture over saying the right words?

Just because someone is using the right words in prayer doesn’t necessarily mean that their heart is right before the Lord. What God demands in prayer is that we pray from a humble heart. 

This is important because I can produce good words from an evil heart. I can fool you, make you think I’m praying this super spiritual prayer, maybe even make you jealous with how good I just prayed yet have the worst of intentions. Or I can produce an awful sounding prayer, maybe even sound like I don’t know what I’m doing (maybe I don’t!), mix up and mess up words all over, but these words I’m attempting to string together in prayer are coming from a humble heart. Here is why this is important:  can you guess who most Christians would model their prayers after? What about who God would recommend we mimic? Focusing on the heart pleases the Lord in prayer and deepens the relationship the one praying has with God. 

How does this message relate to you personally? What has been pivotal in your own prayer life?

For me, there has always been a sense of wonder around prayer. It amazes me that I have the ability to speak to the one who created everything. Like anyone else, life has come with twists and turns. For example, my parents got a divorce when I was in my early 30s, and I have a close family member who struggles with substance abuse and mental illness. I’ve experienced a lot of moments in prayer when what I was experiencing in life exceeded my vocabulary, which often left me at odds in prayer. I wasn’t at odds with God but at odds with how or what I should say or do in prayer. Knowing and believing that God cares more about my heart than anything else set me free in my prayer life. It opened the door for me to pray freely, without any concern for my words, because I was aware of the kind of heart that was producing those words. God taught me in the midst of those trying moments how to pray because of the kind of heart I had in those moments. 

How does this book help readers develop a vibrant prayer life?

This book points the reader to essential truths about God that we must believe in order to have a vibrant prayer life. This book directs the reader toward men and women from the Bible who possessed a vibrant prayer life as a result of their humble hearts. This book helps readers see that confessionary prayer is the most gracious, relational and vibrant form of prayer that God invites us into. This book helps readers develop a sacred habit of praying for a lot of different things but also growing into a vibrant prayer life whereby we pray a lot for just one thing. Finally, this book will help readers see that even in the midst of unanswered prayer, there is something meaningful and vibrant in those moments with the Lord. 

What do you hope readers will do or take away after reading this book?

After reading this book, I hope the reader will take away that somewhere between the humble heart of God and man resides the beauty, mystery and conversation we so desperately desire in prayer.