A review of the book “Praying the Bible” by Donald S. Whitney.
Since prayer is talking with God, why don’t people pray more? Why don’t the people of God enjoy prayer more?
96 pages is all it took for Dr. Whitney to change my life with one of the simplest yet most profound books I have ever read. I have often heard it said that I should be praying the Bible, however, no one ever taught me how. And not to sidestep my own fault, I never really looked into it. In steps Donald Whitney’s little treasure. And by little I in no way mean of slight value. Invaluable in its simplicity is more like it.
He begins his book by talking about the problem, and that is that people don’t pray. He gives two main reasons: 1. people don’t pray because they don’t feel like it. 2. when people finally do pray they “keep saying the same old things about the same old things.”
“If this mind wandering boredom describes your experience in prayer, I would argue that if you are indwelled by the Holy Spirit- if you are born again- then the problem is not you; it is your method.”
I have often felt like a louse when it comes to prayer. I desperately want to pray and spend time with my God, but my media bombarded brain ALWAYS wanders when I try to take quiet time to pray. This book gave me the method I needed to be able to focus my thoughts while in prayer. I still continue to pray for the same things, the same people, the same causes and so on. But after reading this book, I now do so in an engaging way.
The method is quite simple, begin by praying the Psalms. It has been said that they are the prayer book of the Bible, and after having spent some time in them, I couldn’t agree more. I shy away from the Psalms during my Bible reading because they seem like poetry…and well, more poetry. There’s nothing wrong with that, but in the past I did not often get much out of reading the Psalms. But then again, I wasn’t getting much out of my prayer life either. I began using the method of prayer that Dr. Whitney describes in this book and I cannot thank God enough for leading me to it.
My prayer life and therefore my relationship with the God of the universe has grown richly during the months that I have been practicing this method. In fact, it did so much for me that I have given the book away to several of my friends. I will let Dr. Whitney explain the method in his own words.
To pray the Bible, you simply go through the passage line by line, talking to God about whatever comes to mind as you read the text. See how easy that is? Anyone can do that.
It truly is that simple. Because this method does not involve studying, per se, all we’re doing is letting the Spirit guide us and when a word or phrase sticks out to us, we focus on it and talk to God about whatever that particular word/phrase brings to mind.
Here is an example from my own practice of this method. I try to always pray for my five nieces and their salvation. But now instead of feeling somewhat like a boring obligation (ya, I know that sounds bad…imagine how I feel having actually thought that before), it feels like a wellspring of life and a pleasure to pray for my nieces. The Bible verse is in red and my prayer is in italics.
Truly no man can ransom another;
or give to God the price of his life,
for the ransom of their life is costly
God, I know no matter what I do, I cannot save my nieces. I know that no matter how much I learn and how much I teach them about you that the burden is on them to accept you. I simply teach them your statutes as you have commanded. I show them who you are and how to have a relationship with you. But only Jesus’ death can ransom them! Lord, I praise you for sending a way for them, and for me, to be ransomed and Father, I beg you for their salvation and I thank you for it.
I cannot recommend this book highly enough. It is wonderful, not in and of its self, but because of the tools it provides to spur on one’s relationship with The Almighty.