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Monday, May 27, 2013

"Praying the Prayers of the Bible" (James Banks)

TITLE: Praying the Prayers of the Bible
AUTHOR: James Banks
PUBLISHER: Grand Rapids, MI: Discovery House Publishers, 2013, (240 pages).

The Bible is often studied and analyzed by Church groups and many Christian communities. From character studies to theological treatises, from word exegesis to thematic references, the Bible has become the sole bread and butter of everything Christianity. One of the ways that the Bible has so richly informed the Christian community is the prayers in the Bible itself. Whether it is from the Old Testament or the New Testament, it is very easy to find references to prayer in the sacred Scriptures. According to James Banks, we have much to learn from just the prayers of the Bible themselves. We can learn how Moses, Job, Samuel, Isaiah, Jeremiah, Mary, Peter, Paul, and many others pray to God. The advantages are many. We learn to stay faithful to the biblical text. We learn to pray the way that the biblical men and women of old have done. More importantly, because the prayers are so God-focused, and so natural to the human being, it is a worthwhile discipline for anyone following Jesus to learn to pray the prayers of the Bible. James Banks teach us how in this book.

The objective is simple. Make the prayers of the Bible our own. There are 9 themes that the prayers are organized under.
  1. For praising and honoring God;
  2. For Thanksgiving;
  3. For Faith;
  4. For Needs;
  5. For Confession and Humility;
  6. For guidance and direction;
  7. For Help and Protection;
  8. For Everyday Struggles;
  9. For Blessings.
Each theme has a "prayer starter" for those who want a quick entry into the prayer. It also has a longer description for anyone desiring to probe a little deeper. Banks guides readers along. In fact, Banks urges readers to go beyond just remaining in any one category, but to immerse themselves widely in various categories. Believing that all Scripture is God-breathed and profitable for holy living, readers are encouraged to go deep and wide, and to pray and to bask in the presence of God as they utter the words of Scripture. There is no limit to what one can do with the prayers, simply because the prayers point one toward the Eternal and Everlasting God, Boundless, Limitless, and full of glory and grace.

Dr Banks is well qualified to share with us his experiences, having led many groups in prayer retreats, written books, as well as being involved in pastoral work. Through this book, readers from other parts of the world is able to benefit from the ministry of Banks.

My Thoughts

Use this book as a guide to praying, but do not limit yourself to what Banks is saying. Let the Spirit of God lead you to pray and also to come up with your own prayers, with the Bible as a guide. The more we pray, the more we learn. The more we learn to pray, the more we become creative in our praying. The book provides the biblical texts so that readers can use them straightaway. The main problem with books like these is always context. When we pull out verses from the Bible, we risk taking the texts out of contexts. While I am happy to recommend this book for general reference and earnest praying, I will encourage readers not to stop there, but to open up the Bible for themselves. Perhaps, let the selected verses be entries to reading and praying through whole passages, leading toward whole books, and even large chunks of Scripture.

If this book can encourage readers to desire more after God, and to study the Bible more for themselves and their communities, it will have worth every single penny for the price of the book.

Rating: 4 stars of 5.


This book is provided to me free by Discovery House Publishers and NetGalley without any obligation for a positive review. All opinions offered above are mine unless otherwise stated or implied.

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