Local pastor, teacher publishes prayer book

By Janet Bresenham, Freedom New Mexico

For most of Mara Mitchell Andrews’ 31 years of life, her father Gary has been working on researching and writing a comprehensive, practical study on prayer.

Through the years, she watched as her father used a manual typewriter and made copies of his study, first for his doctoral dissertation and then to use in Bible studies or classes on prayer.

Finally, she said she decided it was time to encourage him to publish his prayer study in book form and make it available to more people — even if it meant typing all 202 pages on the computer herself.

“My daughter Mara kind of provoked me to finally do this and publish the book myself through cafepress.com,” said the Rev. Gary Mitchell, a lifelong resident of eastern New Mexico who serves as dean of Wayland Baptist University’s Clovis campus. “I’ve been working on this study since the 1980s. It’s kind of neat for it to have a cover and look like a real book.”

Andrews took the book’s cover photo at the Glorieta Baptist Conference Center Prayer Garden in northern New Mexico, the scene of many of the family’s vacations.

Mitchell, a longtime pastor and Clovis High School graduate who teaches religion courses at WBU-Clovis and has taught in previous years at Clovis Community College, also worked as a journalist for many years in his multi-faceted career.

Students who have attended the WBU-Clovis campus will recognize the book’s contents if they have taken Mitchell’s “Spiritual Formations” or “Discipleship and Spiritual Growth” classes during the past five years.

Now, Mitchell is preparing for his first official book-signing event, which will take place April 26 at The Master’s Center in Clovis.

“Perhaps the one thing that the world needs now more than anything is prayer,” Mitchell said. “In all the time the disciples spent with Jesus, the only thing they ever directly asked him to teach them was how to pray.”

Bookstore owner Tammy Garner said Mitchell’s book provides readers with “a manual, a workbook to expose us to the practice, purpose and power that is ours when we pray. Prayer is a privilege given to every believer, yet too few of us truly enjoy and practice it daily.”

The Rev. Joel Horne, pastor of First Baptist Church of Clovis, said that although he has about 30 books on prayer, he thinks Mitchell’s new book is one of the most practical and easy to use that he has read.

“I would heartily recommend that people read it and do it — not just read it, but do it,” Horne said. “Gary has taken the time to make his book very practical. It’s a wonderful book and exactly what is needed for that subject.”

Horne said his church even plans to conduct a study on prayer using Mitchell’s new book, which also includes biographies on Christians who emphasized prayer, such as Andrew Murray, John Hyde, Oswald Chambers and John Bunyan.

Mitchell dedicated his first book to his wife Judy, his daughter Mara, his grandchildren Thomas and Aubrey, and his parents, W.Y. and Della Mitchell, who still live in Clovis.