No longer available from publisher. Most of us have trouble finding time to pray. There's church and school and neighborhood and job and friends and recreation. And then the crises hit! Time for prayer seems an impossible luxury. As a pastor, Bill Hybels knows hundreds of people with schedules like this. Yet in his own life he has made the hard discovery that prayer doesn't happen on the run. He decided he was too busy not to pray. Hybels's accessible introduction to prayer has already helped over 400,000 readers develop a rich and regular prayer life in the midst of life's busyness. Now, in this revised and expanded 10th anniversary edition, he includes new insights from his years of ministry and his own spiritual journey. He shows how to slow down to pray, listen to God, respond to what we hear, practice the presence of God and overcome prayer barriers. His fun and practical book offers the resources we need for growing, ongoing experiences in prayer.
Bill Hybels is the founding and senior pastor of Willow Creek Community Church in South Barrington, Illinois, a non-denominational church with eight regional locations in the Chicago area. He is the bestselling author of more than twenty books, including Simplify, Axiom, Holy Discontent, Just Walk Across the Room, The Volunteer Revolution, Courageous Leadership, Too Busy Not to Pray, and Becoming a Contagious Christian.
Hybels launched Willow Creek Community Church in 1975 with his wife, Lynne (Berry), and a group of friends who gathered in rented space in a movie theater with a vision of helping people from any faith background (or no faith at all) become fully devoted followers of Jesus. Utilizing contemporary music, the arts, relevant teaching from the Bible, and a small-groups community focus that has revolutionized how people experience community in the local church, Willow Creek has grown to more than 25,000 attendees, one of the largest churches in North America—and one of the most influential.
In 1992, Hybels launched Willow Creek Association, a not-for-profit organization that equips, inspires, and empowers leaders around the world. In 1995, he convened WCA’s first Global Leadership Summit, an annual two-day event featuring top leaders from all perspectives and areas of expertise—both faith-based and secular (past speakers include Condoleezza Rice, Colin Powell, Bono, Melinda Gates, Andy Stanley, Jim Collins, Ed Catmull, Tyler Perry, Sheryl Sandberg, Nicholas Kristof, David Gergen, and Brené Brown). Telecast live from Willow Creek’s 7,000-seat South Barrington auditorium each August, more than 400,000 pastors and community leaders attend the Summit at hundreds of locations across North America, and around the world at 675+ sites in 130 countries and 60 different languages—making it the largest event of its kind on the planet. “Everyone wins when a leader gets better,” Hybels says.
Hybels holds a bachelor’s degree in Biblical Studies and an honorary Doctorate of Divinity from Trinity College (now Trinity International University) in Deerfield, Illinois. He and his wife, Lynne, have two grown children and two grandsons.
Too Busy not to Pray (Slowing down to be with God) Bill Hybels Inter-Varsity Press ISBN: 0-85111-329-X
I read this book as part of the preparation for the week of prayer at Christ Church. Our vicar Warner recommended it. The back cover overview starts "Why should we pray? How can we when we are so busy?". Thats covers some of the reasons why I wanted to read it. Others include the questions of technique - just exactly WHAT can you do that will help you engage with God. The clue to this is in the sub-title, of course. I also wanted to know about hearing God's word. Many years ago I read "Listening to God" and found it very helpful. Applying some of the suggestions in here improved my prayer life, but over a period of time things get stale, thats how I am (and how most people are , I think). So its is good to find a book that addresses things slightly differently, and allows us to take a new approach. Bill starts his book with three chapters about God. What you understand about God, and how much you really believe it will have an impact not only on how you pray, by also on your motivation to pray at all. Then there are some techniques, based around the ACTS acronym - Adoration, Confession, Thanksgiving, Supplication. Bill recognises that we will not simple jump into a new way of praying and find that it works brilliantly, he suggests that practice is required. I agree.
The book ends with some discussion on listening to God, and evaluating what you hear - to be sure that the source of the message is indeed the Holy Spirit, and not just our own internal cravings, or something much worse. As a pastor of many years understanding, he has some good examples to share. They may well make you think of some "What if I'd .." situations in your past.
As a way to improve or perhaps establish your personal prayer life this is a useful read. I am currently trying some of his suggestions to see how they work for me. Everyone, is of course different, but most of us aren't THAT different, so its likely there will be something useful for most people.
Hybels' approach to prayer is straightforward and clear. While challenging readers to reconsider the busy in their lives, Hybels is not critical or judgmental. Through sharing Scripture and seasons of prayerlessness in his own life, Hybels demonstrates we are better with a consistent prayer life than without one. This is a solid book for believers in various stages of faith-- from those who need to get out of a rut, to those who are looking to refresh their prayer life, or those who just would like encouragement to keep pushing through on unanswered prayers.
I read this with a group of women at my church. Having not seriously prayed in 30+ years, I found the "instruction" quite good. However, as usually is the case with book clubs, the discussions we had, whether directly about this book or other things, was almost more useful than the book.
Here are a just a few (paraphrased) lines from the book which particularly resounded with me (recently returned to God):
-"Prayer is an unnatural activity...alien to our proud human nature". -"It is hard for God to release his power in your life when you put your hands in your pockets". -"The real reason my prayers were weak was because my faith was weak". -"He wanted God's presence in his life; he just didn't want to form any habits that would actually invite it to show up". -"The normal Christian life is defined by its supernatural dimension". -"(Another)reason why we may not hear God's voice is that we don't plan to do anything about it". -"Of the one to whom much is given, much is required". Luke 12:48
I, and the other ladies, found the chapter on "Unanswered Prayers" to be especially beneficial.
So, with this glowing write-up, why only a rating of 3?
There were a few references to those who "don't believe" being "wrong"; or, those who are of another religion being "wrong" that will never sit well with me.
Yes, I've returned to God but this doesn't mean I now think anyone who doesn't, or, who practices a religion that does not involve the belief of Jesus Christ as their savior, is doomed.
Too Busy Not to Pray was a 15-week study with my women's bible study group. This study challenged us to slow down in our busy lives & take the time to pray. We learned about God calling us into his presence, inviting us to talk with Him continuously, methods to use to break down the barriers that prevent us from praying to God, recognizing how God speaks to our hearts, and most importantly listening to & taking action when God prompts us. In one of the lessons we contemplated on The Lord's Prayer & rewrote the prayer in our own layman's terms to make the prayer more meaningful to us as individuals. If you are looking for encouraging words to improve your prayer life, Hybel offers practical ideas on slowing down to pray.
First published in 1988, and then reprinted several times in the decades since, this feels and reads like a timeless classic and rounded book on the practice of Christian prayer and a 'prayer life'.
The chapters help break down components and principles of praying, including barriers and associated mindsets.
Sometimes Hybels comes across as a bit blunt or vaguely anecdotal. At one point he says how he hated his family dog, for example, which just felt jarring, unpleasant and mostly irrelevant! I found the best parts were about whether prayers are sincere or not, the breakdown of the Lord's Prayer (perhaps the ultimate prayer!) and the prayer acrostic ACTS (adoration, confession, thanksgiving, supplication).
I was not sure what had been updated for the 2008- editions, but I think the book could have dwelled more on difficult issues facing the 21st century world and how they might shape practices of prayer. The book makes important points about global poverty towards the end, but could have gone broader and deeper on related issues from earlier on, perhaps.
The book is also, not unreasonably, mostly focused on individual prayer, but more attention could have potentially been given to group, collective and cultural variations as well.
The title caught my eye. An easy read with good thought provoking questions. A few examples.
Being aware of the meaning of our prayers. We bless the food to nourish our bodies, even if it is greasy and we chase it with a sugary drink. What nourishment can really come from this type of food, yet we all say it.
He told the story about having to talk in front of a large group and was very worried he was going to let the bigger leaders down. Then the words to a song came to him and made him realize he had been stressing on all of his inadequacies, but knew that God was adequate to make it happen. When he focused on God's adequacy instead of his inadequacy he was able to move forward and give a great talk.
Be Still and know that I am God. We have to listen to hear God talking to us. Often this happens in those quiet moments. Take time to listen.
Journaling helps to slow down our minds to make us more receptive to God. It doesn't matter what we write about, the very act of writing forces us to slow down.
“When was the last time you prayed diligently over a period of time for your spouse, your parents or your children? Or for someone to come to know Christ? Or for peace in war-torn parts of the world? Or that God’s power would cause a revolution in your church? Or that God would put you to work for his glory?”
This is an excerpt from this month’s book and it has really challenged me to re-address my prayer struture and indeed my prayer life. I’ve come to realise that for a while my style of prayer may have been good and even right but without due care and attention the adopted style can translate into routine whereby the words become babbling since deep thought is not placed upon the words spoken, which is less of a communication and more of a recital…may God help us all as we take a deeper look into our prayer life as challeged to do so by Bill Hybel.
This book felt like a memoir of Hybels' own prayer journey, which would have been more palatable if it wasn't undertaken with such self-consciousness and grandiosity. Prayer is a topic best learned about through experience, not reading about the experiences of others. A few have pulled off meaningful and helpful books about prayer. Hybels is not on that list. Besides, his claims about how much prayer has changed his life ring a little hollow when you find out that he was involved with another woman, likely while writing this book.
Read pretty much everything Bill Hybels wrote back in the 80s and 90s. He was the pastor of Willow Creek, after all. Great communicator, popular author, influential church, etc. Welp. Still, this book was a basic primer back in the day on prayer for new believers and probably still helpful in a very basic intro kind of way. Read it in 1991.
I have never finished a theology book that fast! But I just really learned more about the character of God and how to dwell in his presence more. I learned practical steps that I can implement in my prayer life and with my relationship with Christ. This book is exactly what I needed - a reminder to slow down and spend time with the most important relationship in my life. I could not recommend this book more.
This book has been so refreshing! The author lays out clearly why we pray and how to pray well. Through the use of some satire, Hybles uses stories and examples to show the importance of humbly and worship fully praying to the Father.
This book sat on my shelf for a long time because I thought I'd already read it. I'm glad I pulled it off and got a strong refresher on what it means to pray. The title of the book is interesting because I had just finished Crazy Busy by Kevin DeYoung. It was cool to read these books back to back. Though I don't know Bill Hybels, he has influenced me a lot through his book Just Walk Across the Room. In that book, he seems like such a humble and meek person that is willing to do anything for the Gospel. However, in this book (which was written nearly 20 years earlier) really focuses on Hybels struggles with prayer and how he has worked (and work is an important word) to improve his prayer life. The book gave many practical ideas and examples from Hybels life that made it very helpful. I especially thought his focus on finding a quiet/private place for prayer was really important. I didn't find it a very quotable book, but overall I thought it was a good read.
My favorite quotes: p. 12 - "God's power flows primarily to people who pray." p. 38 - "Whatever it taks for you to own the doctrine of God's omnipotence, do it. Until you own it, you will be a faint-hearted pray-er. A 'prayer warrior' is a person who is convinced that God is omnipotent - that God has the power to do anything, to change anyone and to intervene in any circumstance." p. 43 - "I fear that for too many believers, spiritual dispcipline turns into a straightjacket experience filled with requirements that squeeze the vitality and spontaneity and adventure right out of faith and life." p. 64 - "Adoration purifies the one who is praying. When we have spent a few minutes praising God for who He is, our spirit is softened and our agenda changes. Those burning issues we were dying to bring to God's attention may seem less crucial." p. 84 - "How do you pray a prayer so filled with faith that it can move a mountain? By shifting the focus from the size of your mountain to the sufficiency of the mountain mover, and by stepping forward in obedience." p. 96 - "Sometimes God delays so that we can develop character qualities such as endurance, trust, patience, and submission - qualities that come only when we wait patiently and trust in his timing. A lot of spiritual gains come through pain, hurt, struggle, confusion and disappointment." p. 126 - "The archenemy of spiritual authenticity is busyness, which is closely tied to something the Bible calls worldliness - getting caught up with this society's agenda, objectives and activities to the neglect of walking with God." p. 147 - "No one can become an authentic Christian on a steady diet of activity. Power comes out of stillness; strength comes out of solitude. Decisions that change the entire course of your life come out of the holy of holies, your times of stillness before God."
I thoroughly enjoyed this book and reading it was timely for me as I have been trying to make my prayers more meaningful and to better my relationship with my Heavenly Father. It was interesting to me that right at the beginning of the book, Hybels reports that prayer goes against what we are taught from birth. We are told to be independent, yet we stop to ask for help when we pray. I like how he simply states that we just need a quiet room to pray and that is all. This means we can pray anywhere and it will not be too much of an interruption. I really liked some of his practical tools with how to structure our prayers. This is a great way to get started, especially for someone like me who is very methodical in my organization. I am going to apply some of his tools into my life to get me started on an organized path to prayer.
Some of his greatest chapters were about why God delays answers. These are not easy to read as we all find that we are fallible and human but they are worthwhile to note. Probably the hardest thing for me at this time of my life is well stated in this quote, "The archenemy of spiritual authenticity is busyness." (Pg. 106) I have not found a way to cut some of the busyness out of my life so that is the difficult part for me. I need to find times of stillness and solitude where I can pray and listen. Since I am a scheduler, I have decided to do as he says and build the solitude into my schedule.
I found Hybels suggestions and insight very helpful and I envy the relationship that he has with God. I hope to create that for myself!
Easily read, very practical treatment of prayer, taking up the cause of the person who would like to or used to pray, with specifics on how to get going or resume. After discussing potential roadblocks--like holding grudges or sins we haven't given up--the author offers very practical suggestions on praying.
In summary, his method is a simple technique of single-page daily journaling (great for busy people and those who go way overboard). Divide your journal page with 2 titles: "Yesterday"--an examination and recording of yesterday's highlights; and then today's "Prayer" using A.C.T.S. to focus your prayerful thoughts [Adoration/Confession/Thanksgiving/Supplications. He suggests additional subcategories for the Supplications.:].
Having journaled, leave yourself about equal time to stop and "Listen" to the Lord as He talks to you. How do you know it is He 'speaking' to you? Is it biblical or contrary? Does it square with who you are, ie, what your gifts are, or lead you to do something out of character? And finally, critically, is it calling you to be a Servant, or just a big shot?
The author joins with others down through history in assuring us that when we listen to the Lord as the result of real prayer, we will experience an increased awareness of His Presence-- of Divine Companionship as we go through our days; an increased trust in His Guidance; and an increased compassion for our fellow human beings.
Most of the book was helpful, especially the reminder to slow down in life when we pray to God (especially significant as I read that part when I was sick, God forcing me to slow down) But the end on hearing God speak, assumed that Christians today would have the same experience as Moses and David, but they were specific people for specific tasks. So not sure if I agree.
Good book on a very important topic-our conversations with your creator. This book, along with a class I was taking at the same time, got me to make it more then a one way conversation with me doing all the talking. I learned the importance of listening and what to listen for. I also have learned to journal my prayers so I can re-examine them at a later point to see how God has answered my prayers. I know I love to hear from my kids so it should go without saying that God loves to hear from us.
Update: Read this several years ago (review below is from then). Now it's 2020 and I'm updating books on authors I'm now concerned about. Be discerning. Not so sure about Hybels' theology now.
Excellent book. Clearly written for all "levels" of Christians with down-to-earth, practical advice I will be putting to use. Deeper thoughts mixed well with real-life stories made it a book easy to keep reading. Has Reflection & Discussion questions in the back that would make for a good Bible Study with a small group. Hope to re-read again.
Great introductory book on prayer--many books recommend too many things to implement. Bill Hybels gives a very readable, practical and inspiring way to pray daily that jump-started my prayer life when it was stalled. I wouldn't recommend someone to make this a formula for a lifetime of prayer, but it's a great structure to develop key habits and basic skills of prayer--which I use to this day.
This really put things in perspective regarding busyness and spirituality. It isn't just a book stating reasons why we're too busy not to pray and doesn't make you feel completely guilty for putting spirituality on the back burner. Instead, it provides practical tips on how you can keep God first in all areas of your life and pray more.
This book has some really great practical tips in it for prayer. The reason I rated it only 3 stars is the last chapter completely ruined the book for me. He painted a picture that claims Jesus came *mainly* for the poor, but in reality he came for people to be saved. I thought there were instances where the author seemed very prideful and it just really rubbed me the wrong way.
I'm only half way through this book so far but it's really challenging my way of thinking about prayer (and how low on my priority list making time with God is). It's a very practical book with lots of tips, and has reminded me how important it is to pray!
People who cut themselves off from God's direction find their religious experience becoming cerebral, predictable, boring and--often--past tense.
At the time of writing this, books focusing on spiritual discipline and practical growth in the life of the Christian have been somewhat rare in my reading agenda. I'm no stranger to this genre--being a fan of some of the spiritual discipline giants like Tozer, Ravenhill, Foster, etc.--but most of my reading for a while has been more on the analytical and rational side of faith and religion.
Picking up Bill Hybels' Too Busy Not To Pray (TBNtP) was prompted both by a realization of this drought in my spiritual discipline study (which is veritably a spiritual discipline in and of itself), and an admission that my personal experience with prayer has been lack-luster (or altogether absent) in recent days. Having the book already on the shelf, and having heard some vaguely good things about it in the past from trusted sources, I decided to give it a whirl.
TBNtP is a book that bears a fitting title and accomplishes its purpose. Hybels' goal is to discuss the value of prayer, explore why we as people who believe in a personal God fail to pray, and offer some practical steps on how to improve our prayerless plight. He readily accomplishes all of this, and in a very warm and accessible way.
Hybels is a pastor and it shows in his writing; this isn't a critique or a praise--it's just evident he has a heart for the kinds of topics he apparent writes about and, well, he writes like a pastor would! (He says in the introduction this book is the outworking of a preaching series he did on the topic, and that's evident in the product.) The stories and analogies used throughout the book are sometimes inspiring, sometimes depressing, sometimes convicting, and always relevant and helpful. I don't know if this is true of all of his in-person sermons, but almost every literary device used hits home in a constructive way.
The structure of the book is a little fuzzy, but generally logical with sixteen chapters divided into five sections. Some truths about God, and prayer's relation to him, are established in the first section to set the stage for the bulk of the book. The next section focuses on the practical side of prayer and forming good habits with prayer. The third section deals with what might hinder our prayers and prayer life and how to combat these. The fourth section focuses on the opposite side of the 'prayer coin'--hearing from God. The final section--the weakest part of the book in my opinion--deals with what to do with ourselves, how to act on what we experience in prayer and in the presence of God.
In saying the final section is the 'weakest', I do not mean it is necessarily bad or that Hybels dips into any kind of heresy--far from it. There is an incredible amount of practical advice in this section, but I suppose I felt like some of it didn't really relate to the overall topic of the book. I kind of felt like Hybels had some thoughts on some tangentially-related things, but not enough to justify an entirely different book, and so just kind of spruced some of it up and made some general connections to putting 'action' to our prayers at the end of this book. I found a lot of it really helpful in thinking through how to discern when God speaks to us, and some other things in that area, but that's really the extent of the relevance to the rest of the book. Again, this last section isn't bad; I'm just knit-picking the relevance of it. It's still decent stuff.
Overall, I would recommend TBNtP to really almost any follower of God who wants to grow practically in their spiritual disciplines surrounding prayer (prayer itself, solitude, silence, etc.). It isn't a masterclass on the subject--there are some authors who wade into deeper waters in this area--but it covers a broad range of related matters and does so in a very pragmatic way. Even though I've read some of the 'deeper' writers on the topic, I in no way would consider myself to be some kind of guru on the subject, and so I found a lot of sensible and useful information and suggestions in this book that I want to put into practice in my own prayer life. It's a relatively quick and easy read and was a nice break from the more heady works I've been sucked into recently.
Slowing down and making prayer a priority – that’s something I wanted to learn more about. And as this was written by respected pastor and author Bill Hybels, I hoped it would actually give me plenty to think about. Yes! This book checked all the boxes and is a 5 star read.
As many other reviewers have mentioned, this book was easy to read and understand. And it was easy to relate to, as we are all too busy for our own good. I appreciated Hybels’ honesty, his clear writing style, and the book’s ability to make me think. I was reminded that praying is not only talking to God, but also listening to what he has to say to us. Remember the phrase “that still, small voice”?
An example that resonated with me was Hybels’ explanation of taking time to pray: “The moments with God that follow are the ones that really matter. This is where authentic Christianity comes from. Not from prayers on the run, not at Christian concerts or conferences, not when I’m flying around here and there, even if I’m engaged in ministry. No one can become an authentic Christian on a steady diet of activity. Power comes out of stillness; strength comes out of solitude. Decisions that change the entire course of your life come out of your times of stillness before God.”
Hybels presented a journaling technique as a disciplined way that works for him to communicate with God daily. The book also includes a guide for prayer, to get you started as you begin to make time for prayer on a regular basis.
This would be a great book for a small group to read together and discuss, as it contains discussion questions for each chapter. And if you read this on your own, the questions work well for reflection.
I was looking for something that would focus on an important aspect of Christian life in an informative, encouraging way – and I found it in this inspiring book.
I've heard about this books for YEARS, but only just got to it now--I guess I was too busy. :)
Former pastor at Willow Creek near Chicago, this book has sold millions of copies and is in the 20th anniversary edition. Unfortunately, I have heard about how Hybels got involved in things he shouldn't have, but I still think this book has teachings that can be very helpful.
This comes in five sections: 1) A couple chapters emphasizing who God is in order to inspire us and remind us why we SHOULD pray and strive and connect to God more--He is WORTHY!!!
2) Heart-building habits and praying like Jesus (breaking down his ways). I like the practical idea of having a journal and writing in it the day AFTER in order to reflect on things a person should continue to do AND avoid upon further reflection. 1 page maximum in a journal, and on other side, turn it into your prayer.
3. Breaking down barriers between us: unanswered prayers, prayer busters, and how we are susceptible to "cooling off" to prayer and how we can avoid that.
4. God speaking to our hearts: Slowing down to pray, the importance of listening and hearing God's promptings vs. our own flesh or even Satan.
5. God prompting us to action: what to do with promptings, living in God's presence (Brother Lawrence), and the needs around us (THIS chapter REALLY sparked some things in me), as Jesus focused on in his teachings from Luke 4.
The books ends with questions and discussion for EACH chapter IF you want to go through this with a small group, or even to process yourself.
It also has a guide for private or group prayer--getting more specific and how to be more practical.
I was a little hesitant to read this book because the reviews were so varied, but for having relatively low expectations I was pleasantly surprised.
While most of this content isn’t “new” or “groundbreaking” I think that’s true of a lot of Christian- Discipline type books. At the end of the day, Spiritual Disciplines just aren’t “new”- and as many reviews said, they are “basic.” However, that hardly means they aren’t worth revisiting.
I’ve been a Christian for quite a while now. I’ve read the Bible a few times and I even majored in theology and Biblical studies. Still, I find that what really transforms my relationship with God is not knowledge of Greek or lofty theological ideas. It is prayer. It is scripture. It is the “basic stuff.” And this book is a wonderful reminder of that, with some great insights on how to go about it.
It felt a little random toward the end so I can’t give it five stars, but it was a still a good read with a few lines of total brilliance. Definitely worth my time, and a resource I would certainly add to the list of books to read about prayer. I think this is a lot easier to implement than many books. (: