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book review

Larry Crabb: The Papa Prayer

By Amy Mozombite
Guest Writer

CBN.com -- Prayer is my passion. Although I am not good at it and don’t fully understand it, I am growing in that discipline. So is Larry Crabb. From the first page of his latest book The PAPA Prayer, the reader connects with Crabb’s personal struggle with prayer over the years. As a self-proclaimed “relentless realist”, Crabb shares his journey from lifeless praying to a new way of relating to God.

Reading his book is like talking to a safe friend who, without condemnation, shares where he came from, the journey, and how God has and is changing him.

The PAPA Prayer is centered on knowing God and building a relationship with Him. The goal is not praise nor thanksgiving, and certainly not petition, for which we evangelicals are famous. Many of our personal and corporate prayer times are often a list of wants and needs as if we are sitting on Santa’s lap as a child before Christmas. Sure there are a few sentences praising God and thanking Him, but the majority of time is spent listing off requests. However good and needed these requests may be, Crabb suggests that prayer is not about that at all. It is not about making our life on earth as comfortable as possible, nor praying for everything to go right; it is about us coming to God as we are and relating to Him.

Relational Prayer is us communicating in a real way with the God of the universe where we speak and we also listen. Not only that, but we learn to hear, not in a mystical way, but in a practical way. We learn that knowing God has so much more for us as Christians then any blessing here on earth. The blessings on earth are referred to as “second things” -- second to knowing God, which should be our “first thing”.

How do we keep first things first? In the second part of the book Larry Crabb explains in more detail how to pray the PAPA prayer, which includes Presenting yourself to God; Attending to how you think of God; Purging yourself of anything that blocks your relationship with God; and Approaching God as your “first thing”.

The first step in the Papa prayer is presenting yourself to God, not in how you think that you should be, but in how you really are, authentically. Crabb suggests that you make a pattern of looking at where you are, to your very core, and telling God just that without holding anything back. You are to find your “red dot” -- the exact point that you are at that very moment.

Once you have presented the real you, then you attend to your present picture of God. Many of us grow up picturing God in an inaccurate manner, perhaps as a buddy or a stern father. It is important to unpack how you are thinking of God and then correct it with Scripture.

Crabb states: “When we see Jesus as He really is, today, right now, we don’t casually pray … Instead, we’re silenced. We dare not speak till spoken to.”

At this point, we need to clear out anything that is blocking our relationship with our Heavenly Father. We should see how we can be obsessed with ourselves when we should be with God. Then we are free to approach God and allow Him to fill all of our empty places.

Throughout his book, Crabb shares examples of how the PAPA prayer might be worded in real life situations and ends the book with a four-day plan to help the reader delve into himself. He also ends with a note to women and one to men to personalize how we each relate to God differently.

The final paragraph ends the book the very way Crabb could have also started it: “I offer the PAPA prayer to return the body of Christ, and all its lonely members, to the center of their privileged position, to a close relationship with God. I offer this book to restore prayer to its highest purpose.”

If you are ready to be challenged to a new way of thinking about prayer and perhaps a new way of looking at the Christian life, pick up a copy of The PAPA Prayer and see how Crabb’s new way of praying can also change your life. Prepare to begin a new journey.

Send your e-mail feedback to Amy

Order The Papa Prayer from Shop CBN

Send us your prayer request

More Intercession Articles on the Spiritual Life channel

More from Dr. Larry Crabb

More from Integrity Publishers

More from Spiritual Life


Amy and her husband David currently serve with MMS Aviation, a mission whose goal is to prepare people and planes for worldwide mission service. An avid reader, Amy has taught reading and writing and has several lesson plans published online. Send her your e-mail feedback.

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