Monday, April 6, 2020

30. Open and Unafraid

Open and Unafraid: The Psalms as a Guide to Life. W. David O. Taylor. 2020. Thomas Nelson. 224 pages. [Source: Review copy] [Theology; Christian Living; Christian Nonfiction; Bible Study]

First sentence: In the Psalms we join our voices in lament and praise with other voices who weep and laugh.

Love the book of Psalms? Want to know the book of Psalms better? I'd definitely recommend Taylor's new book, Open and Unafraid.

 The timing of this book is just perfect. Both the publishing--March 2020--and my reading of it. As the world changes drastically in response to COVID 19, Taylor's book offers much food for thought. The truth, wisdom, comfort, and hope of Scriptures--particularly the Psalms--shines forth. Psalms is both our song book and our prayer book. Or it perhaps should be.

The Psalms truly cover EVERY and ALL aspects of our emotional lives.

Chapter One: Honesty
Chapter Two: Community
Chapter Three: History
Chapter Four: Prayers
Chapter Five: Poetry
Chapter Six: Sadness
Chapter Seven: Anger
Chapter Eight: Joy
Chapter Nine: Enemies
Chapter Ten: Justice
Chapter Eleven: Death
Chapter Twelve: Life
Chapter Thirteen: Nations
Chapter Fourteen: Creation

The book is written to ENGAGE readers, inviting them deeper and further. Each chapter includes questions for reflections, exercises, and a prayer.


  • "If we have any wish to mature in our humanity and to glorify God with our entire heart, mind, soul, and strength, the Psalms are necessary. We cannot bypass the Psalms. They are God’s gift to train us in prayer that is comprehensive and honest."
  • "To be open and unafraid with God is to counter the devastating effects of our primordial sin. When Adam and Eve sinned, their first impulse was to hide. In making clothes for themselves, they hid their bodies. When they heard the sound of their Maker’s voice, they hid from God. In their telltale lies, they hid from the truth, and in their mutual accusations, they hid from each other. All the ways in which Adam and Eve hid resulted in one thing: their dehumanization. Like Adam and Eve, when we hide from God, we become alienated from God, and thus spend our strength trying to transcend life’s limits: death, dependence, moral laws, God-given boundaries. When we hide from others, we cut ourselves off from the life-giving gift of community. When we hide from creation, we deny our God-ordained creaturely nature and often seek to exploit rather than to care for creation. And when we hide from ourselves, we become strangers to ourselves through selfish, self-indulgent behavior that ultimately does violence to our nature as humans made in God’s image."
  • "We become whole by praying our honest joys and our honest sorrows. We pray our honest praise of God and our honest anger at God; we pray also for honest speech in our words to God. With the psalmist we pray that God will protect our tongues from deceit (Ps. 34:13). We pray that we not sin with our words (Ps. 39:1). We pray that we resist the urge to gossip and flatter (Ps. 12:3), and that we choose to live with integrity (Ps. 41:12), rejecting words that both inflate and deflate us before God (Ps. 32). To pray in this way is to keep ourselves open to others and to God."
  • "It is easy to be honest before God with our hallelujahs; it is somewhat more difficult to be honest in our hurts; it is nearly impossible to be honest before God in the dark emotions of our hate. So we commonly suppress our negative emotions (unless, neurotically, we advertise them). Or, when we do express them, we do it far from the presence, or what we think is the presence, of God, ashamed or embarrassed to be seen in these curse-stained bib overalls. But when we pray the psalms, these classic prayers of God’s people, we find that will not do. We must pray who we actually are, not who we think we should be."
  • "We can be honest to God about the best and worst parts of our human condition, because we know that the grace of God precedes our honest confessions, the grace of God undergirds our honest thanksgivings, and the grace of God follows our honest laments."
  • "Whatever else they are, the psalms are prayers. They’re prayers for people who already know how to pray as well as for those who don’t know how to pray at all. They’re prayers for those who wish to pray to God with all their heart."
  • "To sing a new song is not to sing a “new thing” or the “next thing.” It is to sing in light of the reality of God’s good future, made present to Christ’s people by his Spirit. This is the same life-giving Spirit who makes us partakers of Christ’s ever-renewing resurrected life (Rom. 8): a life that belongs to the new creation (2 Cor. 5:17; Gal. 6:15), where humanity is not simply alive (a nephesh hayah) but “hyperalive, excessively alive,” as Jeremy Begbie describes it."

© Becky Laney of Operation Actually Read Bible

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