News - New Book By GU Prof Guides Readers to Richer Prayer Life

New Book By GU Prof Guides Readers to Richer Prayer Life

By Carla Morris New Book By GU Prof Guides Readers to Richer Prayer Life

John Newton reportedly claimed that prayer is so hard “even the buzzing of a fly in the room is an overmatch for my strength.”

If the author of “Amazing Grace” struggled mightily with divine communion, what hope is there for the rest of us?

Plenty, says Greenville University alumnus and adjunct professor Tyler Boyer ’96, author of Thou My Best Thought: A Free Methodist Prayer Book (Ignite Press, 2019). 

Boyer’s confidence that we can cultivate deeper prayer flows from his personal experiences and his observations about how people navigate modern life. Boyer, the senior pastor of Knox Knolls Free Methodist Church in Springfield, Illinois, believes that with a few thoughtful trade-offs, we can enrich our prayer lives. He encourages us to:

  • Trade our restlessness for the calming daily rhythm of regular prayers, sometimes called praying “the hours.”
  • Trade our impulses to follow the latest bright shiny attraction for frequent visits back to what we already know to be good, so we can know it deeply and live it well.
  • Trade our fascination with the “new and improved” for rediscovering goodness that has endured and will continue to endure.

Though Boyer wrote Thou My Best Thought primarily to help his congregants benefit from deeper prayer, anyone can use it to bridge the gap between “where I’m at now” in my prayer life and “where I want to be.” 

When Our Own Words Aren’t EnoughBk-Cvr-Boyer

Based on the Church’s lectionary, the litanies and lessons in Thou My Best Thought echo the Word read in churches worldwide on Sunday morning. It guides users in the days that follow to prayerfully repeat related psalms, creeds, scripture, the Lord’s Prayer, and other collects. It inspires with historical readings from John Wesley as well as words from Free Methodist pastors and authors. It also incorporates space for personal prayer, reflection, and praying for others. 

As a daily guide, Thou My Best Thought provides welcome assistance to those who want to more fully benefit from Sunday’s teaching, and for those who feel their own words are simply not enough. Boyer hopes that users will rediscover treasures of the past and see “that the old and enduring is sometimes more useful to the formation of our souls than the new and improved.” 

God Chuckling at Our Certainties

Boyer (below) traces inspiration for daily routines of prayer back to a trip he and college classmates took to the Benedictine monastery at St. Meinrad’s Archabbey. There, he encountered stark differences between the monastic surrounds and “the plain, private, and ordinary” traditions upheld by his Mennonite upbringing. 

“I was raised to greet Catholicism with a great deal of skepticism,” he recalls. He harbored certainties that Catholics weren’t Christian. He has since come to realize that sometimes, “God tends to chuckle at our certainties.”

At Meinrad’s—against the elegant backdrop of vaulted ceilings, marble pillars, andTyler-boyer-web polished floors—Boyer encountered exquisite serenity that helped him move beyond talking to God, to listening to God. 

“Entering a place that was so grand and ornate that it made you want to be quiet, was stunning,” he says. Hearing the monks’ voices pray, praise, and chant left no doubt about their love for God and the scriptures. 

“I had trouble praying once a day, and the monks I encountered at Meinrad allowed prayer to interrupt their day at least four times a day,” he recalls. “It was an amazing experience that I will always cherish.”

The monks—persons he previously feared—extended hospitality. “[They] treated me, their guest, as though I was Jesus.”       

These discoveries turned his world upside down.   

Grace That Allows Us to Begin, and Begin Again

Today, Boyer assures those who feel their prayer lives are wanting to remember that the key to prayer is always to begin.

  • If you miss a time, even if you miss several days, begin again.
  • If you find yourself “prayerless” and feel embarrassed by your prayerlessness, begin again.
  • If you tend to pray only for yourself and your needs, begin to pray for one other person.
  • If you feel like you don’t spend enough time in prayer, begin to pay attention to how God is present even in the shortest prayers.

Thou My Best Thought is available online through the Light & Life Bookstore.

Tyler Boyer holds a doctorate in spiritual formation from Lincoln Christian University. He serves as an adjunct professor in the Bastian School of Theology, Philosophy, and Ministry at Greenville University.

Learn More

Enrich Your Prayer Life: A Seven-Minute Lesson in Praying the Psalms
Pope’s New Book Features Cover Art By Alumnus
“Shalom, Shalom” – Enduring Lessons Wrapped in Hospitality, Stories and Faith
The Voice That Trumps Reason and Worldly Values
What Psalms Teach Us About Prayer

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This story was published on March 05, 2020

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