Praying the Bible: Book Review

9781433547843 I wish to start by saying that I’ve read a lot of books on prayer. Some have been helpful and some I wish I didn’t even take the time to finish them. For Don Whitney’s book, Praying the Bible, I can faithfully say this is a book that has been incredibly helpful.

The book is short and can be digested within a day if one truly wanted to – yet I would recommend slowing down and taking stock in what is written. It is an incredibly accessible book, organized well, and clearly articulated. Better yet, he advocates a simple methodology to enhance and revitalize your prayer life.

If you are anything like me, prayer can be a difficult thing to be enthralled with some days. We have hordes of literature giving ten easy steps to a better prayer life that impose upon the reader that if they neglect step 7, their prayer life will go unfulfilled. Beyond this, the repetitious task of completing such steps often removes the joy of prayer and places upon one’s self the yoke of burdensome prayer. Prayer should never be a burden.

Instead of tasking the reader with multiple steps to a better prayer life, Whitney simply advocates a simple approach: you pray using scripture as your source, namely, the Psalms. The reason being: we can avoid vain repetition in our prayers, use inspired text that covers a wide range of emotions, doctrines, and troubles, and initiate the conversation of prayer with God freely. It focuses our minds to keep us from wandering during prayer and is incredibly easy to implement. All one must do is open up the Psalms, pick a passage, and pray through it.

The task is not one in which we must pray every single line found within that Psalm; it is content driven, utilizing the text as a means to follow the paradigm of praise given in the Psalter. Thus, one can praise God’s character, give thanksgiving, express lament, petition Him to act, and close again in praise and thanksgiving.

In this, Whitney advocates that we allow our minds to bring certain things to light as we pray through the Psalm. Thus, an easy example from Psalm 23:1 would be as follows:

The Lord is my shepherd, I shall not want. I praise You in Your provisions and leadership in all aspects of my life. You bring forth food for even the birds of the air – let me not be concerned with provision as the Gentiles are, but instead trust that You will be faithful in all things and uphold your beloved children. I thank you, as my shepherd, that You guide me. May You continue to guide me in righteousness, that I may display the richness of Your grace to all who see me. May You guide my children upon this path that they might fear you and come to see wisdom in Your Law – for it is good, and holy, and righteous. May You provide for them the way of salvation. Open their eyes to see and ears to hear of Your great mercy, so that they too shall see what it means to not be in want.

One verse can prompt content-rich, biblical prayer. Imagine what you can do with the rest of a Psalm that has been repeated throughout the church so much that most can recite it without hesitation – yet don’t meditate on what it means. In this, you not only meditate on what the passage is saying, but you take directly inspired words of God back to Him in prayer. You are speaking to the Lord using His language. In more simple words: you are seeing the Lord initiate the conversation through the scriptures, and you are simply responding to them.

I can promise you that if you struggle with prayer – and you read and faithfully implement the practice he lays out, you will have an enriched prayer life. It is so simple, yet so effective. Buy the book, read it, and put it into practice. Use what time you have, whether it be a few minutes or an hour (which before I felt was daunting, but if you have the time and want to continue – simply turn to the next Psalm. If you don’t know how to pray from that Psalm, turn to the next).

It really is that simple.

Disclosure: I received this book free from Crossway Books through the Beyond the Page book reviewer program. The opinions I have expressed are my own, and I was not required to write a positive review. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255


Taking God at His Word

Taking-God-Word-3D-880x1024 copyIn light of the book reviews I have been doing lately, Kevin DeYoung provides a much-needed breath of fresh air in his basic primer to the defense of the biblical canon. He introduces the book, divulging that by no means will it be an exhaustive treatment of this topic, but rather, in saying that he will simply use the bible to explain why the bible is sufficient, inerrant,  perspicuous (clear), infallible, and inspired.

Opening with Psalm 119, DeYoung moves forward to demonstrate the believer’s response to all that scripture declares itself to be. Namely, that the believer delights in the revealed Word of God, he desires it, and he depends on it. In having the first chapter of this book sow the intended result, he now moves forward to demonstrate each of the aforementioned attributes associated to the Word of God.

Here are some notable quotes from the book:

  • “No one who truly delights in God’s word will be indifferent to the disregarding of it.” (Pg. 18)
  • “Nowhere do Jesus or the apostles ever treat the Old Testament as human reflections on the divine. It is instead the voice of the Holy Spirit (Acts 4:25Heb. 3:7) and God’s own breath (2 Tim. 3:16).” (Pg. 64)
  • “Counselors can counsel meaningfully because Scripture is sufficient. Bible study leaders can lead confidently because Scripture is clear. Preachers can preach with boldness because their biblical text is authoritative. And evangelists can evangelize with urgency because Scripture is necessary.” (Pg. 90)
  • “Our Messiah sees himself as an expositor of Scripture, but never a corrector of Scripture. He fulfills it, but never falsifies it. He turns away wrong interpretations of Scripture, but insists there is nothing wrong with Scripture, down to the crossing of t’s and dotting of i’s.” (Pg. 100)
  • “The unity of Scripture also means we should be rid, once and for all, of this ‘red letter’ nonsense, as if the words of Jesus are the really important words in Scripture and carry more authority and are somehow more directly divine than other verses. . . . If we read about homosexuality from the pen of Paul in Romans, it has no less weight or relevance than if we read it from the lips of Jesus in Matthew. All Scripture is breathed out by God, not just the parts spoken by Jesus.” (Pgs. 116-17)
  • “Ultimately we believe the Bible because we believe in the power and wisdom and goodness and truthfulness of the God whose authority and veracity cannot be separated from the Bible. We trust the Bible because it is God’s Bible. And God being God, we have every reason to take him at his word.” (Pg. 122)

One can quickly see that if liberal treatment of scripture is your thing, you will not likely enjoy this book. It is a conservative approach to the defense of the scriptures. Frankly, in a generally biblically illiterate Christian culture, this book would serve well for many people as an introduction on how we ought to understand the quality and substance of our bibles.

Rather than emphatically placing weight on the experiential wares found in more charismatic circles, we find purpose in the revealed Word of God. There is no other perfect means by which we can understand the mind of God, nor is there any replacement to the invaluable, life-giving, breathed-out scriptures.

The content and clarity with which Kevin DeYoung writes, lends this book to be an engaging, profitable, and short read. Beyond a few clunky sentence structures and grammatical mistakes, I found nothing wrong with this book or the ideas he proposes. No dangerous theological statements – no misquoted scriptures; just a thoroughly enjoyable and biblical book to read.

When I think of books like this, it reminds me of the rich heritage the Christian faith has: men and women suffered and died simply to share a message from a book they believed with all their substance to be the very word of God.

I think of a man like William Tyndale, strangled and then burned, because he saw the power of the Word and desired to bring it to the masses in their native tongues for this simple, yet profound reason:

“I defy the pope and his laws! If God spares my life, in a few years a plow boy shall know more of the Scriptures than you do.”

When we deny the doctrines on the defense of the canon, we are forfeiting not only that rich heritage, but also the sentiment of Peter when he said, “Lord, to whom shall we go? You have words of eternal life.”

This book we call scripture is not filled with truths – it is the truth.


Disclosure: I received this book free from Crossway Books through the Beyond the Page book reviewer program. The opinions I have expressed are my own, and I was not required to write a positive review. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255