Coffee? Check. Devotional? Check. Prayer time? "Yes, but man look at that squirrel. Oh no, I forgot to pack the kids lunches. I wonder what we're going to have for dinner tonight. Ooo, I need to remember to pick up the dry cleaning." Does this sound familiar? If so, there is a book you need to pick up called Praying the Bible by Donald Whitney.
I could study the Bible all day and not get bored with it. I can hear God's Word preached by some of the greatest preachers of our day via podcasts. I can certainly fellowship too. But when it comes to prayer, I pull up my prayer list, begin to pray, and quickly find my mind wondering. I have the same routine, and I've started wondering whether God is getting tired of me saying the same thing every morning. Save my kids. Fill me with the Spirit. Give me grace to minister. It's always the same. So I picked up this book on Praying the Bible.
After defining the problem with many Christian's prayer methods, Whitney provides a simple solution: pray the Bible. The method is quite simple:
1. Read the first verse or sentence of the passage of Scripture for the day. Whether you are going through a designated reading plan or reading a devotional book, it doesn't matter. Just read the first verse or sentence and then stop.
2. What comes to mind? Pray about it. This is not the time for an in depth study of Scripture. Listen to God speak through His inspired, written Word and respond in prayer. After you've said everything you have to say in response, move to step three.
3. Read the second verse or sentence of the passage and repeat. It's just that simple. Read the verse, pray, read a verse, pray. That is what conversation is, right? One person speaks, the other responds. Too often we feel like we must come to prayer and talk for thirty minutes only to get to the end and realize we've only talked for five or our mind has wondered into Neverland. Use this method to turn prayer into a conversation.
This works great with the Psalms - words specifically written as prayers to God. However, Whitney also shows his readers how to pray through the epistles and narrative sections of Scripture as well. He tells several stories of how this has impacted people's prayer lives for the better. He demonstrates how Jesus, the early church, and more recent giants of the faith have prayed through Scripture to energize and renew their prayer lives. He concludes with practical tips on selecting Psalms to pray and praying through Scripture in small groups.
A book review is not a review that does not think critically about the book reviewed. One issue that I wish Whitney would have more clearly addressed is the use of a prayer list in the practice of praying the Bible. I personally have a list of things that I pray through on a routine basis. Some things I pray for daily. Others I pray for weekly. Some I pray for once each month on a special day. My Logos software is a huge help in organizing these prayer needs. What is the best way to pray the Scripture and let it frame and guide your prayer time while getting through all of the prayer needs you must pray for? Whitney does have an answer, but it is buried in an end note.
At times the book gets a little repetitive, a fact exacerbated by the brevity of the book. While this may seem like a negative to the book, both of these things are good things. The repetition helps you retain the material. The brevity of the book helps you read it in the time it would take you to watch a movie and for about the same cost.
All in all, this is a book I highly recommend. Whitney masterfully teaches the content of the book in a very practical manner, even to the point of requiring the reader to put down the book and practice some what he teaches in it. Revitalize your prayers and your quiet time. Go pick up a copy of Praying the Bible by Donald Whitney.
I follow Christ. I have a beautiful wife Megan and three wonderful children, Harrisen, Rebekah, and Carter. I am a candidate for a Ph.D. in ethics from Midwestern Baptist Theological Seminary, have an M.Div. from Liberty Baptist Theological Seminary and a JD from the University of Arkansas, am licensed to practice law in several state and federal courts, and live in Rogers, Arkansas. I write a blog and produce a podcast. And I do it all that others may know Christ.