by Mark Grobicki on Monday, 14th of November 2016
With our focus on prayer in the month of November, here is a book review of the highly-recommended Praying with Paul by D.A. Carson.
The title and the subtitle tell you what D.A. Carson is hoping the book will do.
The subtitle is “A call to Spiritual Reformation”.
That is what Don Carson is hoping the book will do, bring about spiritual reformation, in our own lives, in our churches, in the world, through prayer.
But Carson sees that if there is to be true spiritual reformation, then we need to change not merely the amount we pray (though that no doubt does need changing!), but what we pray. The content of our prayers must be right.
And so the Title of the book is ‘Praying with Paul’.
“just as God’s Word must reform our theology, our ethics, our practices, so also it must reform our praying. The chief purpose of this book, then, is to think through some of Paul’s prayers, so that we may align our prayers habits with his. We want to learn what to pray for, what arguments to use, what priorities we should adopt, what beliefs should shape our prayers, and much more”
So the foundation of the book is an exposition of eight of Paul’s prayers found in his letters. In doing so, Carson continually applies the insights of these Scriptural prayer to our prayers, in a way which is insightful, encouraging, and at times rebuking.
The book is filled with comments like this:
- “do we not spend far more energy praying that our children will pass their exams, or get a good job, or be happy, or not stray too far, that we do praying that they may live lives worthy of what it means to be a Christian?” (p.36)
- “if we follow Paul’s example, then, we will never overlook the monumental important of praying for others. Prayer will never descend to the level where it is nothing more than a retreat house in which we find strength for ourselves”
- “for what have we thanked God for recently? Have we gone over a list of members at our local church, say, or over a list of Christian workers, and quietly thanked God for signs of grace in their lives? Do we make it a matter of praise to God when we observe evidence in one another of growing conformity to Christ…?”
Praying with Paul is not a book which you can, or would want to, read quickly. It is a book to read slowly, taking time to soak in the Scriptures, to ponder what is being said and the applications being drawn, and to put what you are learning into practice.
And at the end of it, I certainly found, and I am sure you will find, that your praying has been reformed, and you can know that God will use that spiritually reform you, and the church, and our world.