Praying: Finding Our Way Through Duty to Delight, By J. I. Packer and Carolyn Nystrom
  • Length: 320 pages
  • Dimensions: 5.5 × 8.25 in
  • Published: October 03, 2023
  • Imprint: IVP
  • Item Code: A0788
  • ISBN: 9781514007884

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Merit Award, World Guild Christian Living Book

Praying is an action that is of the essence of Christian existence. It involves our beliefs, emotions, values, hopes and fears, certainties and uncertainties, knowledge and ignorance.

As J. I. Packer and Carolyn Nystrom explain, "Our aim is not just to clarify Christian understanding but to foster Christian living. In real praying, head, heart, and hands go together." With wisdom, humility, and sincerity the authors lead us through different moods of praying, including brooding, praising, asking, complaining, and hanging on.

In Praying the authors offer hope for those of us who daydream when we try to listen to God and stumble when we try to speak. Yet they don't just teach us about prayer; they challenge and inspire us to do it by pointing us to a clearer realization of the reality of God and his character. Let Packer and Nystrom guide your praying to our powerful God, and let him move your praying through mere duty to delight.

"This book is a powerful reminder that through prayer God speaks into our hearts. And if God is speaking, nothing else matters but listening."

Michael Card, songwriter and Bible teacher

"This is not just a book about prayer; it's a book about God. It's not only about technique and practice; it's about the majestic God of the universe who bends his ear to listen to his children and who loves to respond. If you read this, you'll not only learn to pray, but you'll also learn more about the One you're praying to."

Trevin Wax, vice president of research and resource development at the North American Mission Board and author of The Thrill of Orthodoxy

"Utilizing the inviting metaphor of a long and invigorating hike, Packer and Nystrom are unusually gifted and trusted guides—not only for experiencing more delightful prayer but also for living a truly formative and flourishing Christian life. As apprentices of Jesus, we are invited to a disciplined and grace-filled journey, one that is well worth the exhilarating climb. I loved this book and highly recommend it!"

Tom Nelson, president of Made to Flourish and author of The Flourishing Pastor

"Over their shoulders, through their hearts, J. I. Packer and Carolyn Nystrom offer windows into the truest prayer, one that allows us into the graces of honestly knowing God. Drawing us into the movement from 'duty to delight,' from what we should do to what we long to do, these wise saints write with humility and insight about the rhythms of the heart that make a life lived in the presence of God—seeing what God sees, hearing what God hears, and feeling what God feels—our very reason for being."

Steven Garber, Senior Fellow for Vocation and the Common Good at M. J. Murdock Charitable Trust and author of The Seamless Life: A Tapestry of Love and Learning, Worship and Work

"If prayer is speaking to God, then one reason people struggle with praying is that they don't know how to speak to strangers. This is why Packer has written a book on prayer that is less 'how to' than a 'to whom' book. In fact, Packer, the 'last Puritan,' has, with the help of Carolyn Nystrom, written a book that is as practically helpful as it is doctrinally sound. Only such a dual approach can do justice to their topic, prayer, 'the essence of Christian existence.'"

Kevin J. Vanhoozer, research professor of systematic theology at Trinity Evangelical Divinity School

"There is much to be gained from reading this book! Not only do the authors tell us what prayer is, but also what it is not. They do an excellent job in stressing how we should pray according to Scriptural principles."

Andrew Simcak Jr., Christian News, March 26, 2007

"Praying gently pulls readers in with its conversational style, quotations and excerpts from beloved works."

Christian Retailing, July 3, 2006

Read an Excerpt


Authors' Note
To the Reader

1. The God We Pray To
2. The Path and the By-Paths
3. Brooding
4. Praising
5. Prayer Checkup
6. Asking
7. Complaining
8. Hanging On
9. Joining In
10. With My Whole Heart

Postscript to Christians Becalmed in Their Praying
For Discussion and Reflection
Further Reading
Subject Index
Scripture Index


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J. I. Packer

J. I. Packer (1926–2020) is regarded as one of the most well-known theologians of our time. Once named to Time magazine's list of the 25 Most Influential Evangelicals in America, Packer served as Board of Governors' Professor of Theology at Regent College in Vancouver, British Columbia. His books include Praying, A Quest for Godliness, Evangelism and the Sovereignty of God, and Rediscovering Holiness.

Carolyn Nystrom

Carolyn Nystrom (MA, Wheaton College) has written more than eighty books, Bible study guides, and children's titles. She coauthored Praying with theologian J. I. Packer and Is the Reformation Over with scholar Mark Noll. She is also the author of the LifeGuide Bible Studies 1& 2 Peter and JudeMoney and Work, Friendship, Listening to God and more.

In addition to actively serving in her church, she has been a foster parent, an elementary schoolteacher, the stated clerk of her EPC presbytery, and a book editor. Carolyn lives in northern Illinois with her husband, and they have four grown children.