"Praying the Bible" by Donald S. Whitney. A Review
My rating: 5 of 5 stars
Donald S. Whitney, professor of biblical spirituality and associate dean at the Southern Baptist Theological Seminary in Louisville, Kentucky, and accomplished author on the subject of the spiritual disciplines, has handed off to Christians a wonderfully simple approach to prayer. This 106 page hardback, "Praying the Bible" puts in readers hands and hearts an uncomplicated, usable way to turn boring old prayers about the same boring old things filled with boring old phrases into fresh and fleet seasons of prayer.
Whitney lays out a straightforward method for prayer: "when you pray, pray through a passage of Scripture, particularly a psalm" (27). It's that plain! "By this means his words become the wings of your prayers" (32). And the benefit of this approach is that "the Spirit of God will use the Word of God to help the people of God pray increasingly according to the will of God" (37).
One of the beauties of "Praying the Bible" is that the author walks the reader through several examples of how this is done. He uses 1 Thessalonians 2, John 5, Psalm 23 and others. He methodically, but not laboriously, steps through sample verses showing how it's done. And the main resource the author returns to in the Bible are the psalms. He makes a clear case for the psalms being the main place to go to draw out our prayers; "God gave the psalms to us so that we would give the psalms back to God" (46). There's even a pleasant "Psalms of the Day" chart in the appendix to aid a praying Christian in regularly using using the psalms.
The only place I wish Whitney had been stronger was how he addressed the imprecatory psalms. He side-steps their value and use in Christian prayer, by making them primarily about my sin, or Christ's final return when he will destroy every rule and every authority and power, with the last enemy to be destroyed being death (1 Corinthians 15.24-26). Though I agree with him that the imprecatory psalms should never be used with regard to personal foes, there are times to pray them with regard to those who oppress God's people, who foist murderous injustice on the innocent, or who traffick in human souls.
If you're in a dry and weary place where there is no water; panting like a deer for the water brooks; wondering how you can better seek the face of God, then this little handbook is just the thing. Pastors, Bible teachers, seminary students, moms, dads, sons and daughters all need it! I highly recommend the book.
You can pick up the book here: Crossway
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