When I was a student at Southwestern Baptist Theological seminary over twenty years ago I took one Spring a class called “Spring Evangelism Practicum” with Dr. Dan Crawford. This class represented an effort on the seminary’s part to serve and assist Baptist churches in frontier areas of Baptist work in the United States. In essence, the Seminary would send students to areas with little Baptist work to preach a Spring revival and to encourage the pastors of these churches. The students received academic credit and preaching experience in the process. I was sent to Minot, North Dakota, in early 1996 or 1997, I don’t remember which.
I found Dan Crawford to be a sincere, intelligent, and inspiring professor. The classes leading up to the week on the field were helpful, often humorous, sometimes cautionary, and always carried with them a sense that this was serious work upon which we were embarking! I remember the whole experience with great fondness.
I thought of Dr. Crawford last year and found his website, Disciple All Nations. I was really happy to see that Dr. Crawford has provided free pdf copies of many of his books on his site! And I was even happier to see that his book, The Prayer-Shaped Disciple: Learn How Prayer Can Enrich Your Spiritual Life (Hendrickson, 1999) was available for free. I was excited because I was wanting to find some solid and helpful material to take our church through in a Wednesday night prayer meeting. So that’s what I did for a good bit of last year. We put a link on our app to the book and made printed-off copies available to those who desired a hardcopy instead and worked through the book for a number of months.
The book covers a lot of territory, really pretty much any topic you can think of pertaining to prayer and then some other topics besides. It is quite thorough. It is marked by an irenic spirit, a strong effort to ground all of its assertions in scripture, a heavy use of illustrations (which, to me, was a strength but I wonder if some folks might think there are too many), a sense of urgency and passion about prayer, and a very helpful practical approach to prayer and the various issues surrounding it.
This would be a very good book to give to somebody just trying to figure out how prayer works and what it is. In saying that I’m not trying to say that it is elementary or basic. On the contrary, there are deep waters here as well and those who have been believers for some time will likewise be challenged by the work. Also, the book addresses a number of issues related to conducting a prayer ministry that pastors and ministry leaders will find interesting and helpful.
I would say that The Prayer-Shaped Disciple is a strong, solid contribution to the issue of prayer and the reader will read it with great profit!