Friday, March 2, 2012

Book Review: Lord Teach Us To Pray

Lord, Teach Us To Pray. Alexander Whyte. 1922/1998. Regent College Publishing. 292 pages.

I would say that this is one of the best books on prayer I've ever read, but, since I haven't really read all that many books, that doesn't seem exactly fair. I can say that this book surprised me... in a good way. I can say that it was deep enough, relevant enough, that I read many chapters twice. I can say that I actually cared enough to take notes on at least half of the chapters. (Something I rarely do--even though it's something I probably should be doing as I read nonfiction.)

The book is a collection of sermons preached by Alexander Whyte. It is divided into three parts: part one, introductory and general; part two, some Bible types of prayers; part three, some aspects of the way of prayer.

Part one:

  • The Magnificence of Prayer
  • The Geometry of Prayer
  • The Heart of Man and the Heart of God

Part two:

  • Jacob--Wrestling
  • Moses--Making Haste
  • Elijah--Passionate in Prayer
  • Job--Groping
  • The Psalmist--Setting the LORD always Before Him
  • Habakkuk--On His Watchtower
  • Our Lord--Sanctifying Himself
  • Our Lord--In the Garden
  • One of Paul's Prayers
  • One of Paul's Thanksgivings
  • The Man Who Knocked At Midnight

Part three:

  • Prayer to the Most High
  • The Costliness of Prayer
  • Reverence in Prayer
  • The Pleading Note in Prayer
  • Concentration in Prayer
  • Imagination in Prayer
  • The Forgiving Spirit in Prayer
  • The Secret Burden
  • The Endless Quest

The book is practical, relevant, devotional, and yet thought-provoking. It surprised me in more than a few places. I didn't exactly agree with every single little thing in each chapter. I found his chapter on the imagination in Christian life to be interesting--not interesting bad or interesting good, just interesting. The way he urges his listeners, his readers, to become part of the Bible, to place themselves in the stories, to fully imagine themselves in the story, on the scene, to practice reading the gospels this way. Well, it was interesting, let's say.

Favorite quotes:
There is nothing in which we need to take so many lessons as in prayer. There is nothing of which we are so utterly ignorant when we first begin; there is nothing in which we are so helpless. And there is nothing else that we are so bad at all our days. We have an inborn, a constitutional, a habitual, and, indeed, an hereditary dislike of prayer, and of everything of the nature of prayer. We are not only ignorant here, and incapable: we are incorrigibly and unconquerably unwilling to learn. And when we begin to learn we need a lesson every day, almost every hour. (257)
Now it is necessary to know, and ever to keep in mind, that prayer is the all-comprehending name that is given to every step in our return to God. True prayer, the richest and the ripest prayer, the most acceptable and the most prevailing prayer, embraces many elements: it is made up of many operations of the mind, and many motions of the heart. (185)
Earth is at its very best, and heaven is at its very highest, when men and angels magnify their office of prayer and of praise before the throne of God. (5)
God himself speaks to us in the language of men, and not in the language of the Godhead. In our reason, and in our conscience, and in His Word and in His Son, God speaks to us in the language of men. (17)
Wherever in all the world there is a human heart, God also is there. And He is there in order to have that heart poured out before Him. (29)
We do not, properly speaking, pour out our hearts before God: we pour our hearts upon God. We do not pour out our hearts before His feet: we pour out our hearts upon His heart. (35)
Not only do God's saints pour out their hearts upon His heart: He pours out His heart upon their hearts. His son has come to us straight out of His Father's heart. (36)
True prayer is colossal work. (51)
Believe me, to pray with all your heart, and strength, that is the last, the greatest achievement of the Christian's warfare on this earth. (50)
Nothing silences, and subdues, and sanctifies our passions but prayer. (76)

© Becky Laney of Operation Actually Read Bible

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