mitchell publishes prayer manual

Release Date: April 3, 2008

CLOVIS -- With the National Day of Prayer looming on the May horizon, a local author has just released a classical Bible study on prayer for use in area churches and small Bible study groups. In fact, the book is already being used in the virtual classroom.

    “The Believer’s Prayer Manual,” written by Gary D. Mitchell, D.Min., dean and assistant professor of religion at Wayland Baptist University-Clovis, has been published by cafepress.com and is currently being used by WBU students taking Spiritual Formations (RLGN 3309) online.

     The Prayer Manual is a compilation of classic writings on prayer by some of the greatest prayer warriors and proponents in church history, according to Mitchell.

     “The book is designed to guide church leaders and believers as well into a comprehensive study of prayer,” he said. “It’s a comprehensive – but certainly not exhaustive – presentation of the multi-faceted discipline of prayer, highlighting material drawn from classical books and writings by devout men and women of God through the centuries.”

     A local booksigning event for Mitchell and his first book will be held from 10 a.m. to noon and 2-4 p.m. Saturday, April 26, at The Master’s, 810 E. 21st St., Clovis. Mitchell’s book is also available online at www.cafepress.com/prayermanual  

     The event will serve as a precursor for the community-wide observance of the National Day of Prayer on Thursday, May 1, on the Curry County Courthouse lawn, according to Tammy Garner, owner of The Master’s.

     “I truly believe God is calling all Christians not only to pray for our nation, our government and our leaders on the National Day of Prayer, but to pray without ceasing for our families, our friends, our neighbors, our economy, those that are hurting and in need, and for those that have yet to call Jesus, their Lord and Savior,” she said.

     “Prayer (visiting with God) is a privilege given to every believer, yet too few of us truly enjoy and practice it daily,” Garner added. “Gary has not offered us just another book on prayer, but a manual, a workbook to expose us to the practice, purpose and power that is ours when we pray.”

     Dr. Joel Horne, pastor of First Baptist Church in Clovis, said he has had opportunity to evaluate Mitchell’s book.

     “I would describe it as ‘amazing instructions on how to do what everybody thinks they know how to do already,’” he said. “In fact, I’ve asked Gary to come lead that study in our church in the near future.”

     One Wayland student who encountered the prayer manual during Mitchell’s “Spiritual Formations” class offered this critique: “I found this book to be very accessible, interesting and helpful, a little more so than others. It inspired me to strengthen my own personal prayer life.”

“The Believer’s Prayer Manual” differs from other books on prayer because of its comprehensive format, Mitchell noted.

      “Perhaps the one thing that the world needs now more than anything is prayer,” he said. “In all probability, what it does not need is another book on prayer. After all, it seems as though anybody who is anybody in Christendom has written a book on prayer. But, for the most part, those books tend to deal with specific areas of prayer – not with prayer generally.”

     For example, other books and studies tend to focus on only one or two aspects of prayer, such as the prayer life of Jesus, the model prayer, Bible characters who pray, couples (or women) who pray, experiential modes of prayer or prayer as spiritual warfare.

     “Those are beneficial and can provide in-depth insight into those areas,” Mitchell said. “But this book serves the need for an overall, complete understanding of what it means to pray. In fact, in all the time the disciples spent with Jesus, the only thing they ever directly asked Him to teach them was how to pray. Somehow they sensed that it was His prayer life, His communion with the Father, that empowered Him, refreshed Him, strengthened Him and motivated Him.”

     The book came out of a perceived need in Mitchell’s doctoral research and his time in the pastorate.

     “There will always be the need for prayer,” he said. “And there will always be the need for a fresh understanding of its power and practice. That’s what motivated me then as a pastor of a small Baptist church to begin my journey of prayer and to share it first with my congregation.”

     That journey evolved into a doctoral dissertation on prayer as the foundation for ministry and the development of a small-group Bible study on prayer.

     “The Believer’s Prayer Manual” has been used as a study tool by Christians in New Mexico, Oklahoma and Texas.

     Mitchell has served as campus dean for WBU-Clovis since August 2005. The Cannon/Clovis campus has grown from 15 students when it opened its doors at Cannon Air Force Base in 1997 to more than 200 this year.

    Mitchell received his Doctor of Ministry degree from Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary in December 1984. A graduate of Clovis High School in 1966, he is the son of W Y and Della Mitchell of Clovis. His wife, Judy, is a licensed professional clinical counselor at Clovis Counseling Center. They have one daughter, Mara, and two grandchildren, Thomas and Aubrey.