Every Christian knows he should be praying, but Mark Littleton shows us how to actually do it! This is one of the most practical books on prayer I have ever read. It’s loaded with suggestions and practical ways to effectively pray in our busy lives. Instead of feeling guilty about a lack of prayer, Mark helps us see how we can integrate intercessory prayer into our lives on a continual basis. Well thought out, the book details 10 principles for ten second prayers that will change your life. If your New Year’s resolution is to increase prayer in your life, this is the book for you!
The author does a fantastic job applying key biblical principles on how to pray without ceasing and how to give thanks in everything and for everything. Written in Mark’s easy-going narrative style, The Ten Second Prayer Principle is a quick read yet comprehensive. It’s easy to identify with Tom, the main character of the book, as he explores and practices prayer in every situation.
Although some of the examples of prayer in this book seem trivial at best, they are probably intended as humor and a sad bite of reality. “Really, Lord, won’t you do something about the Kansas City Royals?” They’re losing like crazy out there” (Introduction X). The average Christian, if we are honest, probably prays like that. Tom’s prayers at times are not only self-serving but almost irreverent. “Father…let the investments do well in the markets. I’m not asking for a windfall—though that would be nice—but whatever you can do would be great” (p.15).
Concerning the content of our prayers, chapter eleven (Praying the Scriptures) is one of the best in the book. Mark illustrates how praying the Scriptures is a key to a powerful prayer life. “When we talk to God on the basis of what he’s already promised or commanded, I think he is more apt to answer than when we just fire a shot in the dark” (p. 131). Mark insists that our prayers be limited by the will of God (p. 113). Even praying Scripture does not guarantee God will answer as we think he should because “God is still God” (p.115) and is therefore sovereign.
Some will be uncomfortable with the extent to which Mark encourages us to listen to inner promptings as the voice of God, (pp. 31, 109, 110). Additionally, Littleton mentions using the Prayer of Jabez once in a positive manner, but concludes that he is “still not sure how much we should use the prayer of Jabez as a template in our prayer life…” (p. 139). Still, over all, the book has much to commend it. Admittedly, the book’s focus is intercessory prayer. Readers may be disappointed that adoration, confession and thanksgiving do not receive equal emphasis. In this reviewer’s opinion it would be a mistake to take Littleton’s recommendation so seriously that we totally substitute ten second prayers for meaningful periods of prayer in our lives (pp. xi, xii). Obviously, our Lord practiced constant communication with God as well as protracted times of prayer.
However, I find this book a refreshing change from the mysticism that characterizes much of the Emergent literature on prayer. This is biblical prayer, not stuffy or formal, but real, authentic and …powerful. The Ten-Second Prayer Principle can change your life. It’s liberating, humorous and riveting. While they are not specifically from the Bible itself, Mark suggests several practical prayer ideas that work in his own life. Practicing even one of these can revitalize any prayer life. Even though the author does not cite the original languages when he comments on the Bible, his insights often reveal careful exegesis. The Ten-Second Prayer Principle looks to me like a viable alternative to the error of mysticism and contemplative Christianity that is so popular today.
Reviewed by Larry E. Dyer
Th.M. Dallas Theological Seminary 1977
D.Min. Covenant Theological Seminary 1994
Sr. Pastor Emeritus Chapel of the Lake, Lake St Louis MO 1985-2007
Adjunct Faculty: Calvary Bible College and Theological Seminary
Kansas City, MO
Author: Baptism: The Believer’s First Obedience, Kregel Press, 2000.