Praying the Bible (Crossway, 2015)

The best test of a book on prayer is to answer this question, “After reading this book on prayer, is a fire stoked inside of me to pray?”

The answer to that question as it relates to Don Whitney’s newest book is a resounding yes. In fact, if you follow Whitney’s instruction in the book, you will already have put into practice a method that will help keep your prayer life hot.

I had the privilege of spending a few minutes with Whitney when his book was first released. With his fountain pen he inscribed this note to me on the title page,

May the Lord use this book to help you pray the Bible, and help you teach many others to pray the Bible.

I can report that the Lord is already answering that prayer. In this short volume, Whitney tackles the problem of the lack and or staleness of prayer in the lives of many Christians. He identifies this problem as one of our method of praying. That problematic method is that we tend to pray the same old things about the same old things. Not much excitement resides in that method.

The answer is to use the Scriptures (in particular, the Psalms) to guide our prayers and carry on a genuine conversation with the Lord. When we allow the Scriptures to guide our thoughts and our words of prayer, we discover a freshness in this spiritual discipline. This is true even if we pray about the same things we have already been praying.

I did have to wrestle a bit with what could be taken as an overly mystical style of prayer. Thankfully, Whitney addresses that concern satisfactorily. The Bible doesn’t become a Christian Magic 8 Ball. Instead we chew on God revealing himself and his ways and pray accordingly.

Using this method not only will spark your praying for your self, but you will find a new zeal in being an intercessor – praying for others according to the Bible. Whitney provides several examples of how this plays out.

Whitney lays out the thesis for the method of this book in this sentence,

To pray the Bible, you simply go through the passage line by line, talking to God about whatever comes to mind as you read the text.

This method presupposes that the Bible is the very Word of God. It also presupposes that the Holy Spirit resides in the Christian and helps us in our prayer life.

In the end I hope you and I will be able to express the mindset that Whitney expresses on his dedication page. After words of dedication to T.W. Hunt and R.F. Gates, he dedicates the book to Jesus in part with these words.

After talking with you so many thousands of times, I can’t wait to see you.

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