New every morning is your love, great God of light, and all day long you are working for good in the world. Stir up in us desire to serve you, to live peacefully with our neighbors and all your creation, and to devote each day to your Son, our Savior Jesus Christ. Amen.

"A Liturgy for Morning Prayer," Upper Room Worshipbook

Used by permission from the Book of Common Worship, © 2018 Westminster John Knox Press. All rights reserved. This prayer appears in “A Liturgy for Morning Prayer” in Upper Room Worshipbook.

Talking in the Dark

Praying When Life Doesn't Make Sense

Steve Harper • July 2007

BUY Print $14.99

BUY eBook (Available in ePub or Kindle) $9.99

Have you ever stopped praying?

When life seems unfair and prayer doesn't seem to make any difference, you may quit praying. Most people who admit that they stopped praying for a while, including the author, say they felt as if they were suffocating after a period without prayer.

"Sometimes I think God has called me to speak, write, and teach about prayer so I won't give up on it altogether," writes Harper. "After more than forty years of praying, I still don't understand prayer. …Prayer does not come easily for me."

"In the pages of this book," Harper continues, "I will ask you to roll up your sleeves and confront your problems with prayer—and then keep praying. Sometimes you will feel as though you are talking in the dark. But the fact is, sound travels in both darkness and light."

If you're frustrated in your prayer life and wonder whether prayer is worth the effort, this book is for you. Nothing daunts Harper in this wrangle with God. No doubt, experience, or unholy feeling is out of bounds as he considers life and prayer's dark patches.

No matter how lost or lonely you feel, he offers assurance. During days when you feel the number one problem with prayer is an unresponsive God, you'll have the strength to dig deeper and surrender to the mysterious sustenance God offers.

As you read Harper's brutally honest stories and follow his advice on how to cultivate a prayer life, you'll discover the kind of prayer that makes you want to continue even though everything in you wants to quit.

Categories: Grief, Prayer
Dr. Steve Harper (PhD, Duke University, 1981) is a retired elder in the Florida Annual Conference of The United Methodist Church and a retired professor of spiritual formation and Wesley studies. Steve is the author of 16 books and coauthor of 13 others, as well as numerous articles and entries in Christian encyclopedias. He continues in ministries of preaching, teaching, and writing but is also enjoying the blessings of retirement. Steve and his wife, Jeannie, live in Winter Springs, Florida.

ISBN: 978-0-8358-9922-2

Kindle ISBN: 978-0-8358-1241-2

EPub ISBN: 978-0-8358-1242-9

Imprint: Upper Room

Pub Date: July 2007

Trim Size: 5.5 in (w) x 8.25 in (h) x 0.2821 in (d)

Page Count: 136

BISAC Categories: RELIGION / Christian Living / Prayer

BISAC1: REL012080



"Many people could write books on prayer, but not many could write a book like this. Steve Harper has lived the questions of life, experienced the mystery, and is honest enough to share his journey with us. If you have been or are haunted by the question 'Why pray?' this book is for you. If you are a bit beyond that question, you probably still need the book because someone you know is asking the question.

Though focused on prayer, Talking in the Dark will help readers with their questions and wonderings about how God relates to the whole of our lives. For me the book represents teaching and witness at their best — honest experience and practical guidance."
— Maxie Dunnam Chancellor Asbury Theological Seminary

"God gifted Steve Harper with the ability to cut through theological jargon, clear a pathway to Jesus, and guide others into the embrace of the Comforter. Harper is absolutely right: Life does not always make sense, and he has the courage to speak with honesty about how that feels. Talking in the Dark invites us into painful spaces, agonizing questions, and hushed moments in order to be found by the great Companion of our lives."
— Paul W. Chilcote, PhD Visiting Professor of the Practice of Evangelism Duke Divinity School

"In Talking in the Dark, Dr. Steve Harper rephrases the familiar Shakespearean refrain: 'To pray or not to pray; that is the question.' Each chapter convinces us that we can no more give up praying than can stop breathing. For those of us who continue to pray in the dark, this book is like a beam of light leading us to new depths of trust and surrender to the Holy One who hears our cries."
— Susan Muto, PhD Dean, Epiphany Academy of Formative Spirituality Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania

"Read this book, and you’ll probably feel as I did, that you are sitting with a friend who is willing to talk honestly about the struggles we have with prayer when life makes no sense. When you rise from this 'conversation,' likely you will feel that you have found more than an understanding friend — you have found a wise friend, one who provided the perspective you needed. Harper’s book does not attempt to placate with simplistic answers but resonates with profound wisdom. The book is real and rings with truth because the author is honest, vulnerable, a man of faith, and insight. I can attest to this because he has been my friend for decades. After reading Talking in the Dark, you’ll find him to be the kind of soul friend you have needed as well."
— C. Reginald Johnson, PhD Dean, School of Theology and Formation Asbury Theological Seminar