Many of us live chronically discouraged about our prayer lives.
While the spark of desire is often there, it seems like we can’t create the roaring fire of a rich and vibrant prayer life. We are motivated to try harder, but we quickly find ourselves sinking back into old and tired habits in prayer.
If this describes you, take heart! Don Whitney in Praying the Bible says the problem many times is not in the Christian doing the praying, but rather the method used to pray. Many lack structure and purpose in prayer and thus pray the same old things about the same old things.
Whitney’s remedy is simple: pray the Bible.
I’ll admit, Whitney’s method surprised me at first—not because I disbelieved in praying Scripture, but because of how exactly he recommends we do that. Whitney recommends we read a portion of Scripture, say a Psalm, and we go verse by verse and pray for anything and everything that pops into our minds. And when done with a verse, move on to the next one.
This at first seemed a little willy-nilly to me—until I began to practice it, see the blessing of it, and seek to be led by the Spirit more as I prayed the Bible. I found my experience agreeing with that of many who have taken classes on the spiritual disciplines with Whitney at Southern Baptist Theological Seminary who frequently respond in at least ten ways:
- “My Mind Didn’t Wander.” It’s much easier to remain focused in prayer when you pray your way through a passage.
- “My Prayer Was More about God and Less about Me.” Praying through a passage of Scripture—especially a psalm—tends to be a more God-centered way of praying.
- “The Time [in prayer during the class activity] Was Too Short!”
- “It Seemed Like a Real Conversation with a Real Person”
- “The Psalm Spoke Directly to the Life Situation I Am in Right Now”
- “I Thought More Deeply about What the Bible Says”
- “I Had Greater Assurance That I Was Praying God’s Will”
- “I Prayed about Things I Normally Don’t Pray About”
- “I Prayed about the Things I Normally Do Pray about but in New and Different Ways”
- “I Didn’t Say the Same Old Things about the Same Old Things”
Who doesn’t want each of those comments to describe their own prayer life?
Sometimes the simplest ideas make the biggest impact in our daily lives. Whitney’s method in Praying the Bible did just that for me. It is a short and simple book that still motivate you to pray and give you a proven method to overcome obstacles to have a more joyful and effective prayer life. Readers will feel like they are students in one of Whitney’s classes and clearly learn the “why” and the “how” of praying the Bible.
The only potential downside of this book (or any other book on prayer) is that a reader may fly through it and leave their prayer life unchanged. Read this book with an eye to put it into practice for the glory of God—and then start praying the Bible.
Title: Praying the Bible
Author: Donald S. Whitney
Publisher: Crossway Books
Rating: 5 Stars
Watch a helpful interview below between Justin Taylor and Dr. Donald Whitney: