Brian Croft has done it again! I am probably becoming this pastor’s biggest fan. This is the fifth book I have read of his in as many weeks; I am just as impressed with this one as I was the first, perhaps even more so. You can read my other reviews on The Pastor’s Soul, The Pastor’s Family, The Pastor’s Ministry, and Caring for Widows. Pray for the Flock is actually co-written by Ryan Fullerton. Pastor Fullerton is the lead pastor of Immanuel Baptist Church in Louisville, KY and Pastor Croft is the senior pastor of Auburndale Baptist in the same city. Brian Croft is the founder of Practical Shepherding, and Ryan Fullerton serves on their board of directors. It is obvious that these two men have authored this book having a good rapport with each other, and if not, they mention their longstanding friendship a couple of times within its pages.
That being said, Pray for the Flock: Ministering God’s Grace Through Intercession, published by Zondervan in 2015, is a short but powerful book on prayer. Fullerton takes most of the first half of the book (Croft wrote one chapter of six in the first half), and deals with the question of why we should pray. In other words, as the section heading states: “What Does the Bible Teach” about prayer? I have read quite a few books on prayer because, like everyone else, I do not believe my prayer-life to be “up to snuff.” I want to learn to pray better, longer, more earnestly, and so I go in search of my answers. I’ve read E.M. Bounds (not every one of his books), I’ve read Mohler, Miller, Tautges, Sproul and others as well. They have helped me with my theology of prayer, some with the practicalities of prayer, and some (quite frankly) have made me feel guilty about my prayer life (and well they should) but none have made me excited to pray. That is what Pastor Fullerton has done in this book. He reminded me that “If we want to have New Testament ministries, then we must understand and practice the New Testament priority given to prayer,” (p. 24) and instructs us: “Don’t just read God’s promises. Like Daniel, pray them. Ask God to bring them into reality!” (p. 45). Why? Because “God has decided that he is most glorified in accomplishing his purposes by answer the prayers of his people.” (p. 45). The reality that “Most of us don’t have a theology of prayer that is capable of getting us out of bed in the morning, let alone powerful enough to move mountains,” is convicting because it is true. But the great thing is that Fullerton doesn’t just leave us convicted, he provides the hope that is needed to alleviate this truth. I’ll let you read the book so that you can get the full picture and have your heart warmed, primed and ready to go to God in prayer.
Pastor Croft took the second half of the book, as is often the case. He dealt with the more practical side of praying for the flock in the section titled, “The Practice of Prayer.” This is where the book takes more of the pastoral tone (the first half could be read by anyone, with only a few spots dealing directly to pastors). The titles of some of the chapters in the second half are almost like “click-bait” that can make one think, “I’ve got to read that; how is the true?” Like the chapter titled, “Pray Occasionally.” That is actually the penult chapter of the book (second to last), but each chapter deals with a specific time or type or way to pray. We are to pray specifically for our people, not in general. Each person ought to be prayed over, for, and with. We are to pray with other pastors. We are to pray for missions and that God would raise up and send missionaries and pastors from our churches specifically. Through six short but eye-opening chapters, Brian Croft revealed thoughts I had never considered as to that which we ought to pray. In fact, I have already taken a few of those ideas and put them into practice. My favorite (a “why haven’t I thought of it before” kind of lesson) is getting a little notebook (small enough to fit in my back pocket) and writing every person in the church on a page, then when I hear of a prayer request I can write it down under that person’s name and continually pray for and with that person (adapted a little from his suggestion) and then I contact that person with a short note letting them know I’ve been praying for their situation.
The Appendix deals with Pastor Fullerton’s 40-day fast that he had apparently just finished during the writing of this book. I found it a bit slow, and not as compelling, as the rest of the book. However, it still gave great insight as to how fasting and prayer go together.
Coming in at only 125 pages, this is the shortest book I have read by Pastor Croft, but it is the best book I’ve read on prayer. I woke up early the other day, having just finished the book, and as I lay there I was wondering what I should do: try to fall back asleep? get on Twitter or Facebook? Then an excited feeling deep within came bubbling up, I knew what I wanted–wanted!–to do: pray. Much of the time we simply don’t believe in the power of prayer or we don’t know how to pray as it seems we say the same things over and over again. If that’s you, I’d highly recommend reading this little book. If you’re not a pastor, I would still encourage you to read this–especially the first half.