What If Jesus Was Serious…About Prayer? • Skye Jethani

A Visual Guide to the Spiritual Practice Most of Us Get Wrong

June 2021 • Paperback • 978-0-8024-2416-7

Good things come to those who believe . . . right?

People like to say, “Prayer works.” But what does that mean? Prayer works for what? Getting the answers from God that we want so much?

While God certainly cares for your deepest needs, Skye Jethani wants you to know that prayer is so much more than a two-way transaction with a heavenly vending machine. Jesus didn’t pray like that. And with a pastor’s heart, Skye wants to take you deeper into what Jesus, the lover of your soul, had to say about talking with God.

In What If Jesus Was Serious . . . About Prayer?, you’ll benefit not only from Skye’s words of wisdom but his doodles that help the visual learner connect with spiritual truth. Prayer isn’t about getting answers, but getting God. We need more prayer in our lives—not because God can give us what we crave, but because He offers himself to us in love.


Skye Jethani is an author, speaker, consultant and ordained pastor. He also serves as the co-host of the popular Phil Vischer Podcast, a weekly show that blends astute cultural and theological insights with comical conversation. He has been a sought after consultant for groups facing challenges at the intersection of faith and culture like The Lausanne Movement, The White House Office of Faith-Based and Neighborhood Partnerships, and the Interfaith Youth Core. Skye has authored three books, The Divine Commodity: Discovering a Faith Beyond Consumer Christianity, WITH: Reimagining the Way You Relate to God, and Futureville. Skye and his wife Amanda have three children: Zoe, Isaac, and Lucy and reside in Wheaton, IL.


If Jesus was serious…then prayer is what we must do, not just what we ought to do.

All people pray for one of two reasons – either because they ought to or because they must. The ought-prayers do it because it is the expectation of anyone who takes religion seriously (or who wants to be perceived as taking it seriously). They occasionally turn to God in prayer as if they are doing Him a favor, or perhaps to tone their “spiritual life” the way one gives extra attention to diet and exercise after the holiday. Deep down the ought-prayers suspect their lives would be just fine without prayer.

The must-prayers are very different and are most easily spotted in hospital waiting rooms or recovery groups. They are desperate souls that have had their illusion of control obliterated by the harder realities of life. They pray because they are utterly convinced of their need for God and His grace. Despite what others may conclude from their appearance, the must-prayers know that apart from God’s presence their lives would unravel. For them, prayer is not optional.

If ought-prayers see prayer like perfume, a welcome nonessential addition to the air, then must-prayers see it like oxygen, the element of the atmosphere their life depends upon.

We have all had must-pray moments triggered by acute fear or insecurity, but then we drift back into the ought-pray mindset when our circumstances return to normal and our illusion of control is restored. To cultivate real communion with God, however, we must not lose sight of our dependency and our poverty. If we do not believe we need God, we will not receive Him. As Augustine said, “You must account yourself ‘desolate’ in this world, however great the prosperity of your lot may be.”


Skye Jethani provides a life-giving reminder that prayer is not reserved for the polished, tidy, and presentable moments of life, but rather, God yearns to be in constant communion with us in our messy, ordinary, everyday lives.
– Gary Haugen
Founder and CEO of International Justice Mission

The great gift of Skye is to cut through the muddle of confused thinking around the subject of prayer and focus on the profoundly simple instruction Jesus offers. He combines deep theology with practical and accessible illustrations that are incredibly helpful in getting to the heart of what Jesus taught and modeled. Skye’s book will be of great help to those who’ve always found prayer confusing or boring.
– Mike Erre
Pastor, author, and host of the VOX Podcast

Skye has done it again. In his winsome blend of engaging stories, perceptive insights, creative sketches, and much-needed challenges, he offers new ways to engage with an ancient – and still incredibly significant – practice and posture of prayer. Jesus certainly was serious about prayer – and Sky communicates that truth in a seriously engaging way.
– J.R. Briggs
Author, The Sacred Overlap: Learning to Live Faithfully in the Space Between; founder, Kairos Partnerships