Praying the Bible by Donald S. Whitney. Crossway: Wheaton, 2015. 114 pp. $14.00
Over the weekend I finally made the time to read a book that I had been putting off for far too long. I am not exactly sure why it took me so long to get to it…(though I think it might be connected to watching too much Clemson football…alas confession is good for the soul). I am thankful I made the effort as I needed a prayer pick-me-up. Last year, teaching through the book Daniel reoriented my theological perspective on prayer. I realized that my understanding of prayer (in light of God’s Sovereignty) was weak and anemic. Seeing Daniel both reveal the future and yet still pray in the present was humbling. (Maybe I’ll write a blog on that next!) Now this year, with my theology having been previously corrected, I now am able to build on that foundation with a new blueprint for systematic daily prayer. Donald S. Whitney presents a simple and compelling case for using Scripture passages as a grid or framework for daily prayer. So simple and yet so profound.
Written in plain language, bolstered by inspirational quotes from key theologians, and amply supported throughout with Scripture, one quickly discovers the book to be a plea for more prayer. Whitney challenges believers to replace ineffective random prayer requests with a more Biblical “method.” From the outset he disarms the reader by seemingly joining with them in the fight against boring monotonous repetitious prayers. He asks the questions on the tongues of all who try…and inevitably fail at prayer.
Indeed, why would people become bored when talking with God, especially when talking about that which is most important to them? Is it because we don’t love God? Is it because, deep down, we really care nothing for the people or matters we pray about? No. Rather, if this mind-wandering boredom describes your experience in prayer, I would argue that if you are indwelled by the Holy Spirit – if you are born again – then the problem is not you; it is your method. [italics original] pp. 12.
As Whitney advances his argument the book may be broken down into these major sections…
- Praying the Pslams (ch. 5)
- Praying other Parts of the Bible (ch. 6)
- Experimenting with and evaluating the method (chs. 7-9)
- Examples from Scripture which support the method (ch. 10)
- Individual and group prayer helps (Appendices 1&2)
In the sections on the Psalms and experimenting with the method, I am happy to say I did just as Whitney instructed. I set the book down, selected the 27th Psalm (based on the date) and began to pray. What a joy it was to pray through the Psalm by connecting the Psalmist’s pleas with people and areas of my own life. Here is a snippet of his challenge…
You are reading this book because you want a richer, more satisfying experience with God in prayer, right? But this book won’t help you unless you apply its teaching to your prayer life. And that’s what I’m asking you to do right now – not someday, but now – to apply what you’ve learned by praying through a psalm. pp. 64.
In conclusion, Donald S. Whitney’s Praying the Bible offers the believer a Biblical pattern toward a lifestyle of meaningful prayer and fellowship with God. I encourage everyone, from the youngest believer to the most seasoned saint, to add this to your devotional collection. I can only imagine how Churches and individuals will be transformed as believers linger longer in powerful prayer.