Take Up and Pray: Learning to Pray the Scriptures from Donald Whitney

prayDonald Whitney has just released a new book on prayer, Praying the BibleLike his earlier books spurring Christians towards love and good deeds (especially Spiritual Disciplines for the Christian Life), this little volume is sure to encourage believers and provide a pathway to greater, more fervent, more consistent prayer.

As I read the book at the end of last week’s prayer meeting at the SBC, I walked away with fresh encouragement to take up the Scriptures and pray. I am sure any believer will experience the same thing if they pick up this little book (89 pp.). To encourage you to pick up this book, let me give you a sense of Whitney’s argument coupled with his ‘tweetable’ prose.

The motivation for prayer comes from the new birth.

“All those in whom the Spirit dwells have new holy hungers and holy loves they did not have prior to having his indwelling presence. They hunger for the holy Word . . . they love fellowship with the people of God . . . They long to live in a holy body without sin . . . [and] all those indwelled by the Holy Spirit really want to pray.” (13–14)

So what’s the problem with our prayer? And what’s the solution? 

The problem is our tired method: “The method of most Christians in prayer is to say the same old things about the same old things. . . . Virtually from the beginning of their Christian life, it seems that nearly every believer suffers from this habit.” (15)

The solution is found in conjoining our prayer with the Bible: “Open the Bible, start reading it, and pause at every verse and turn it into prayer.” (33, citing John Piper)

(Tweetable) Nuggets of Gold

As Praying the Bible outlines a way to pray the Psalms, epistles, and narratives, it also drops gems of wisdom about prayer and the Bible.

“Prayers without variety eventually become words without meaning.” (17)

“The problem is not that we pray about the same old things; rather, it’s that we say the same old things about the same old things.” (20)

“By praying the Psalms back to God, we learn to pray in tune with the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit.” (45, citing Ben Patterson)

“God gave the Psalms to us so that we would give the Psalms back to God” in praise and prayer. (46)

“God has inspired a psalm for every sigh of the soul.” (54)

“Whatever your particular need or trouble, from this same book you can select a form of words to fit it.” (54, citing Athanasius)

“Make it your prayer practice to pray the Bible, and you’ll never again say the same old things about the same old things.” (59)

“Virtually every line in a New Testament letter suggests something to pray about.” (59)

“The Psalms are given us to this end, that we may learn to pray them in the name of Jesus Christ.” (63, citing Dietrich Bonhoeffer)

The Fruit of Scripture-Centered Prayer

In addition to giving an incredibly simple practice for praying the Psalms and the rest of the Bible, Whitney shares the fruit of putting the Scriptures at the center of our prayer-lives. In a chapter entitled, “Evaluating the Experience,” he lists more than ten effects this method has had on those he taught over the last few decades. Some of the responses include:

  • “My mind didn’t wander.”
  • “My prayer was more about God and Less about me.”
  • “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.”

As you can hear, and probably sense in your soul, the effect of praying the Scriptures has a profound effect on those alive in Christ. For that reason, I commend to you Donald Whitney’s new book, Praying the ScripturesIt will give you a simple, usable method for prayer. If you want to pray with efficacy and consistency, this little book will be a great resource for you (and your church).

I am thankful my friend shared this book with me and now I share it with you.

Sola Deo Gloria, ds

2 thoughts on “Take Up and Pray: Learning to Pray the Scriptures from Donald Whitney

  1. After reading the interview George Guthrie did with Donald Whitney in “Read the Bible for Life”, I am excited to have an entire book devoted to praying the Scriptures. Thank you for sharing!

  2. Pingback: Praying with Passion (Psalm 126) | Via Emmaus

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