How Do ‘You’ Pray?: A Book Review

How does your personality affect your prayer life? Do certain temperament types find different types of prayer easier than others? What about your past history?  What are the therapeutic benefits of prayer?  Is prayer just auto-suggestion, conditioned response or childish illusion?  Are all prayers the same? What about Eastern meditation?

Psychiatrist and Bible teacher Pablo Martinez brings his professional insight to bear on the topic of prayer.  In Praying with the Grain: How Your Personality Affects the Way You Pray, he offers biblically sound direction to developing your prayer with keen psychological insight from an evangelical perspective. The late John Stott wrote the foreword for this book (I think the foreword is a carry-over from the book’s previous incarnation entitled Prayer Life, 2001). I certainly appreciated that this book delved  beyond your typical pop-psychology pap with good biblical grounding from an evangelical perspective. Really, I think this is a rare combination in the Christian book market!

This is a short book, composed of five chapters. Chapter 1-3 compose part 1 of this book which address the psychology of prayer. Chapter one focuses on how our personal temperament affects the way we pray. Martinez argues that different temperament types have natural strengths and weaknesses in their approach to prayer. Using Carl Jung’s temperament types he explores how the various types (thinking, feeling, sensation, intuition)  and the proclivity toward introversion or extroversion has real affect on our prayer life. For example, introverts are introspective and turn inward while extroverts are activists who focus on other people and things. Thinking types tend to be rational and methodical in their approach to prayer making them effective intercessors and good at confession  but they aren’t so good at expressing adoration and worship. Feeling types are more relational in their approach to prayer and are more likely to ‘feel’ God’s presence and show concern about concrete situations of social injustice; yet they can tend toward excessive subjectivism.   Intuitive types are the natural mystics and contemplatives and prize freedom in prayer (which means sometimes they aren’t particularly grounded).  The Sensation type addresses God through the senses and tend to relate to God in a childlike way but are sometimes too reliant on external circumstances and never pray for very long. Martinez’s goal is both to help us affirm and appreciate the different ways people experience God but also shore up and develop in areas where we are naturally weak (it is healthier to be nearer the center in each of the temperament types or in terms of extroversion/introversion).

Chapter 2 addresses emotional problems and prayer and difficulties people have when they come to prayer. These include difficulties in the course of prayer such as getting started, not feeling God’s presence, not wanting to be hypocritical, difficulty in concentrating (i.e. anxiety or nervousness, bad thoughts)  and the  inability to pray in public. He also addresses the different content of prayer (adoration and praise, confession, request and intercession) and asserts that a healthy pray life needs to include each element regardless of your natural proclivities.  In chapter 3 Martinez describes the ‘therapeutic benefits of prayer,’  both existentially and in terms of  a ‘psychotherapeutic process” of  a growing  intimate relationship, a cathartic unburdening, providing guidance and discernement, and personal growth.  In both of these chapters Martinez’s psychological insight is helpful for entering more fully into prayer.

In part 2 Martinez provides an apologetic for Christian prayer.  Chapter 4 addresses secularist/modernist criticisms of prayer (i.e.  prayer as self-suggestion,  prayer as conditioned response, or childish illusion. In chapter 5 he examines the differences between Christian prayer and meditation and Eastern style meditation and Platonic mysticism.  I think he does a good job of dismantling psychologically shallow caricatures of prayer and demonstrating that there is real substance to prayer beyond a placebo effect.  He also demonstrates how Christian meditation has a different purpose, method and content than either Eastern meditation or Platonism.  What I really liked about his final chapter is the way he eschews method and technique  (which is the Eastern approach) and proclaims that the Christian understanding of prayer is an intimate relationship.

While I found part 2 interesting and think that Martinez is able to articulate important points succinctly and with insight, I think the real value of this book is helping people develop as pray-ers.  The insight that our  temperament type and personal history provides us with a natural style of relating to God. For a short book, Martinez gives significant space to exploring the difficulties we have in prayer and the strengths and weaknesses we have as a result to our unique shape, temperament and history.  There is a lot here that is of real help to those of us who want to grow at prayer and foster our relationship with God.

Martinez’s evangelical perspective makes him suspicious of some of the excesses of the contemplative and mystical tradition.  He does affirm a lot in the Christian mystical tradition but is suspicious of the ways that Platonism has robbed much of it of its Christian content and thus urges that our approach to meditation should be focused on scripture.  Certainly I can see how people get mystical and strange and become unhinged, but I wonder if there is more merit to some of the approaches to prayer that he criticizes. But this is more of a wondering, his approach to Christian meditation as centered on the word and our experience of the word is in keeping with my own practice, experience and conviction.

Thank you to Kregel Publications for providing me with a copy of this book in exchange for my honest review.

Published by


I am a pastor, husband, father, instigator, pray-er, hoper, writer, trouble-maker, peacemaker, and friend. Who are you?

19 thoughts on “How Do ‘You’ Pray?: A Book Review”

  1. Curiously, all mention of Susan’s attempted murder charge had disappeared from NH court records and from the
    Manchester Union Leader archives. But don’t be tempted tto buy something just
    because it’s at a bargain price now, you might regret the decision later
    when you add up the potential costs of having a rental
    property in an area that’s higher in crime, mmore prone to fires or more expensive to insure due tto its proximity to hazards.

    Landlords whose rental properies don’t fall under rent-control must practice caution when increasing rent beyond what’s reasonable
    as this could open up complaints by tenants tto the

  2. This is easily the most ridiculous comment thread on my blog. I know there is spammers everywhere. Why spam flame a book review on prayer? I just don’t get it. Cheers everyone. You never fail to make me laugh internet.

  3. The reason why is because there is a lower rate of theft in areas like these.
    But as you know, owning a car is not enough, its maintenance and security are also equally important.
    Alll you require doing is to compare car insurfance quote online.

  4. Homeowners have benefited produced by Progressive auto insurance products since 1937.
    Instead of paying a flat rate that assumes you are driving regularly,
    a policy like this allows you too paay more when you need to do a lot of driving and very little when you do not needd
    to use a car. You need to submit all vital and relevant forms to your insurance firm to make sure hijghest
    injury protection.

  5. The driving records of car insurers also have to be considered byy car insurance providers when deciding on the caar insurance premiums.
    They visited the offices of carr insurance companies. For instance, if you purchase a brand new luxury car, you can expect to pay
    a hefty amount for your car insurance.

  6. First off, say your car is in a serious accident, and
    it is aat a vehicle repair shop to get fixed. So you need to take into consideration rising costs and figure out what the costt
    for knoledge or weddding will be down the range.
    The ccar damage or loss can be caused due to various factors like fire, hail or theft.

  7. There are several reasons as to why insurannce rates are lower from online
    retailers. Finally, motion detection lights are a relativeky inexpensive means of lighting dark areas and putting
    thieves on notice hat you might be atching them.
    In some instances, there are primary beneficiaries and conyingent beneficiaries.

  8. By implementing ass many of these tips ass possible, you. The primary benefit is that you save yourself a lot of mooney
    by not having to withdraw a lot of money from your bank account in ordcer
    to afford car insurance. Answering the question: “What happens to a car lease if you are in an accident” is not

  9. My family members always say that I am wasting my time here at web, but I know
    I am getting experience all the time by reading thes fastidious posts.

  10. hi!,I like your writing very much! proportion we keep in touch
    extra approximately your post on AOL? I need
    a specialist on this area to resolve my problem. Maybe that is you!
    Looking forward to peer you.

  11. Thanks for one’s marvelous posting! I seriously enjoyed reading it, you will be a great author.I will ensure that I bookmark your blog and will come back from now on. I want to encourage that you continue your great job, have a nice holiday weekend!

  12. I loved as much as you’ll receive carried out right here. The sketch is attractive, your authored material stylish. nonetheless, you command get bought an nervousness over that you wish be delivering the following. unwell unquestionably come further formerly again since exactly the same nearly a lot often inside case you shield this hike.

  13. Hello! I know this is somewhat off topic but I was wondering which blog platform are you using
    for this website? I’m getting tired of WordPress because I’ve had problems with hackers and I’m looking at options for another platform. I would be great if you could point me in the direction of a good platform.

  14. I do not comment, however I read a few of the comments on this page How Do You Pray?
    : A Book Review | thoughts, prayers & songs:.
    I actually do have 2 questions for you if you do not
    mind. Could it be only me or does it look like a few
    of the comments come across like they are left by brain
    dead visitors? 😛 And, if you are writing on additional social sites, I would like
    to keep up with you. Would you make a list of every one
    of your social pages like your twitter feed, Facebook page or linkedin profile?

  15. Should you follow this simple advice, you will see that finding low value automobile insurance coverage for teenagers isn’t all that hard. Look into temporary UK car insurance before you let friends and other family members borrow your car the next time they are in town. Get as much info as you can and find out what is out there that may suit your needs.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.