I have to admit when I first heard the title of Dr. Whitney’s new book “Praying the Bible” my very first thought was that it was all about preaching the gospel to myself. Praying the Bible is a lot like preaching the gospel but it’s also totally different. In preaching the gospel to ourselves, we’re seeking to apply the truth of Scripture to our lives. In praying the Bible, Dr. Whitney says we’re, “taking words that originated in the heart and mind of God and circulating them through your heart and mind back to God. By this means his words becomes the wings of your prayers” (32).
Dr. Whitney wrote this book to help people with their prayer lives. Often times in our prayer lives we can focus only on saying the same things over and over again. So, Dr. Whitney writes to help us deal with our wandering boredom in prayer and to help us saturate our prayer lives in the Word of God. He states, “The Holy Spirit causes all the children of God to believe that God is their Father and fills them with an undying desire to talk to him” (14). The solution to a routine boring prayer life according to Dr. Whitney is to, “When you pray, pray through a passage of Scripture, particular a psalm” (27).
Dr. Whitney notes that praying the Bible is not engaging in hermeneutics (34-35) but is prayer (35). He explains that, “Bible reading is secondary in this process. Our focus is on God through prayer; our glance is at the Bible. And we turn Godward and pray bout every matter that occurs to us as we read” (35). When we’re praying the Bible, we are reading the biblical text but with a view to take what it says and pray through it. Praying the Bible is another way to take what we see in the text and apply it to our lives. We do this by thinking God’s thoughts after Him as we read His Word and pray them back to Him. The goal of praying the Bible is that Scripture would shape our prayer lives and every part of our life. As Dr. Whitney says, “When you pray the Bible, you aren’t just praying ordinary words you are praying words of spirit and life” (43).
While chapters one through four sets out the problem with our prayer lives, the solution, and the method, chapters five and six looks at praying the Psalms, and other parts of the Bible. Chapter seven calls readers to pray “through a psalm for at least seven minutes” (64). In chapter eight the author helps us to evaluate our experience with praying the Bible while chapter nine helps us to understand what we’ve learned so far from this book. The book concludes by looking at how George Muller, one of the great prayer warriors in the history learned to pray the Bible in addition to exploring how Jesus prayed on the cross, and the early believers in the book of Acts. Praying the Bible has two appendixes. In the first appendix, the author gives a Psalms of the Day chart that helps the reader to know which chapters to read in the Psalms on the specified day of the month. Appendix two looks at how to pray the Bible with a group.
When I first heard about Praying the Bible I wasn’t sure what I’d think of it. Having read this book last week and reflected on it over the weekend, I’ve become convinced that this is a powerful and helpful little book. I read this book in two readings which is pretty rare for me to sit down and read even a small book that fast. My normal reading preference is to read a chapter at a time and digest what the author is saying and how they unfold what they write about throughout the whole book. All of that to say this is an excellent, well-written, and very helpful primer on a topic that many Christians will likely not have given much thought to. I highly recommend Praying the Bible and encourage Pastors to pick up several cases of it for their parishioners and hand it to out to people in their church so they can learn to pray the Bible. This would also be an excellent book for Bible College and seminary students to read as they regularly read through the Bible in their various Bible and theology classes. Praying the Bible is an excellent and helpful book that will help Christians to grow in their love of the Lord by learning to love the Lord of the Word of God and the Lord of their hearts—Jesus Christ.