Pastor John F. Hannah, founder and lead pastor of New Life Covenant Church Southeast, releases a new book focusing on prayer. Just Pray: How A Life of Prayer Grows Unshakeable Faith discusses the power of prayer and how to develop a lifestyle of prayer. Pastor Hannah shared some compelling thoughts on Just Pray and the driving force behind it in a candid interview with the Chicago Defender.
Chicago Defender: How long did it take to finish Just Pray: How a Life of Prayer Grows Unshakeable Faith?
Pastor John F. Hannah: It took over a year. I wanted to make sure the book is a how-to and a go-to model for prayer and establishing a prayer life.
Chicago Defender: Was it challenging to format it the way you envisioned?
Pastor John F. Hannah: Yes, it was. I want to help people. I have heard testimonies from people who said it has helped revive their prayer lives. It has provided clarity and shown people where they were/are with their prayer lives and what direction they need to take their prayer lives.
Chicago Defender: What inspired you to write about prayer?
Pastor John F. Hannah: Right now is the perfect time to write about prayer. I planned to write the book before the pandemic, so it made me lock and zone in on it when it hit. I saw the effects of COVID. I saw the impact of everything being shut down, and I saw people not responding, not going to God. I saw people giving in to their feelings and emotions. So this was the perfect time to say you really can go to God about this. He hears and answers prayers. I wanted to stress that after God hears, He answers prayers.
Chicago Defender: What is your favorite chapter or part of Just Pray?
Chicago Defender: Pastor John F. Hannah: I think my favorite part of the book is Part II, ACTSI; adoration, confession, thanks, supplication, and intercession. This is the section I pray is the most beneficial to people. We just assume people know how to pray. The disciples asked the Lord to teach them how to pray. When He did, He gave them a format for prayer, so I wanted the book to provide a format for praying. It is also my favorite part because it helps people learn how to go to God in prayer.
Chicago Defender: Why is it vital for people to learn how to pray?
Pastor John F. Hannah: Some people only go to God when they want something. I want to shift that mentality. He is not your Santa Claus. He is your father; He is your God; he is your Creator. I want to help people go to God more than when they need something. Unfortunately, some people only to Him when they hit rock bottom. I want to help build a relationship with God through prayer. A parent knows the voice of their child if they are outside screaming. If I can help make your voice familiar with God through the message of this book, that is a powerful thing. So even when you go to Him in a panic state, He is already familiar with your voice. God needs to be familiar with your voice, your praise. He needs to be familiar with your thank you’s, your confessions. He needs to be familiar with you.
Chicago Defender: What did you learn about your own prayer life because of writing this message?
Pastor John F. Hannah: What I have learned is that I just did not wake up one day and had it. I learned that I was taught to pray. Prayer surrounded me, and prayer got on me. I realized that I did not just come up with this. It was a journey.
Chicago Defender: Chapter One of Just Pray discusses “drive-through moments” and “sit-down moments” of prayer with God. Why is having a “sit-down moment” of prayer with God so important?
Pastor John F. Hannah: Imagine when you are hungry, and you go through a drive-through. You do not get to enjoy the encounter of a sit-down meal; the ambiance, the silverware, the table, the conversation. You just get what you want, and then you are gone! Some people treat prayer this way. But when you sit with God, you get the entire experience. Prayer is not just talking with God; it is also listening to God.
Chicago Defender: What was the most challenging thing about writing Just Pray?
Pastor John F. Hannah: The life stories and transparencies. Some of the experiences were difficult pills to swallow, and then to regurgitate them and share them with the world is hard to do.
Chicago Defender: What do you want readers to learn because of reading Just Pray?
Pastor John F. Hannah: I want readers to know that they are never alone. I want them to know that nothing is too big; nothing is too small because God is concerned. He awaits you. His ear is not too heavy that He cannot hear you. You have access to God.
Chicago Defender: How do you influence the new generation of churchgoers to grasp the concept of prayer?
Pastor John F. Hannah: I encourage them to be a part of a praying church. We have created a prayer atmosphere. We have prayer every 2nd and 4th Tuesday; I host twelve-hour prayer, I do prayer on 79th Street. If you are a part of a praying church, you will catch on. You cannot be under or surrounded by something, and it does not get on you.
Chicago Defender: Is there a Just Pray conference in the making or a Just Pray Part II on the way?
Pastor John F. Hannah: Eventually, I think I will have a virtual boot camp where we will walk through the ACTSI model. Every day we will pick something from this model so I can drill these concepts into people. Therefore, something is coming up.
If you are looking to revive your prayer life, Just Pray: How a Life of Prayer Grows Unshakeable Faith is a book well worth reading. It will change your outlook on prayer and the way you talk to God.
Liz Lampkin is a lifestyle, love, and relationships writer. Follow her on social media @Liz_Lampkin.