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Friday, May 1, 2015

"Praying the Bible" (Donald S. Whitney)

TITLE: Praying the Bible
AUTHOR: Donald S. Whitney
PUBLISHER: Wheaton, IL: Crossway, 2015, (115 pages).

Prayer is important but it can from time to time become boring, shallow, or even meaningless. What then do we do about it? Is there a problem we need to take note of? Have we become too individualistic in our prayer concerns? It can happen, sometimes way too often. From safety in school to studies, parents pray the same things for their kids. From time management to work performances, employees pray for their work. Families pray for finances, jobs, or various family concerns. Church groups pray for their Church programmes or members who are hurting. Young people pray for their direction and future. Believers pray for their Christian concerns. After a while, even if one does not know the specific requirements, somehow, the requests of each person do not actually vary. The end result is a series of repeated, monotonous, and similar prayers. Even the most pious and persistent prayer warriors will be uttering the same kinds of prayers. According to author and professor, Donald S. Whitney, the problem lies in the method. His premise is simple. Pray through Scripture.

Use the Psalms as a way to weave in our everyday concerns with God's pattern of communication. Use the day of the month to pray through five different kinds of psalms. Let the needs of our present moment be interwoven with the pattern of Scripture. For instance, in Psalm 23:1, when we pray "The Lord is my Shepherd," pray all manner of needs around God as Shepherd. Bring forth our present, our past, and our future before the Shepherd who knows exactly who we are, how we are doing, and what we are feeling. When ready, feel free to move on to the next verse. Whitney assures readers that it is ok not to be too Bible-study-centric. In fact, he advises us to avoid turning the Bible into some kind of a study. Instead, use it devotionally without being distracted by the theologies and the technical details of each word or phrase. While the author proposes the Psalms as the mainstay of prayer, he does not stop there. He shares how we can use the New Testament as well as other parts of Scripture. The most important thing of all is to put the method into practice, which is exactly what he did more than half-way through the book.

My Thoughts

Honestly, I am stoked about this method as it is simple and Bible-based. It is encouraging to most of us who lack seminary training. All that is needed is the ability to read the Bible, and to let the Bible lead us. There is no need for us to have training in Greek/Hebrew (though it can be very helpful). there is no need for us to be stuck at some verses or to feel guilty about skipping parts of the Scripture. After all, we are aiming at communing with God and to let the Word lead and to guide us. We are not coming up with some revolutionary doctrine or theological dogma. We are simply increasing our desire to pray creatively in the Word, and to be empowered to pray more in depth and in scope.

The biggest benefit to reading this book is actually the prayer experience itself. I find it a very simple and creative method to adopt. Like many methods, it is important to put what we learn or read straightaway into practice. Only then, we can benefit most. My friends, this book is a very useful resource to help us get back to active and creative praying. For the faithful, use it to supplement your existing methods of prayer. There is no need to discard your old ways. For the busy, do not be pressured into using large chunks of the Bible each time. If you felt led to focus on just one verse, that may very well be most appropriate for you at that time. God understands. In fact, by memorizing the Word, we can even pray throughout the day. Know what, this method can also be used in groups. It can even enable groups to pray together in unison and with multiple perspectives of the same verse!

Rating: 4.5 stars of 5.


This book is provided to me courtesy of Crossway Publishers and NetGalley in exchange for an honest review. All opinions offered above are mine unless otherwise stated or implied.

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