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Praying the Bible (Book Summary)


praying the bible

As I read books, I provide myself with a short book summary and relevant book notes for future reference. Others have asked about me sharing those notes in the past. So....here you go.


Here's my book summary of Praying the Bible by Donald Whitney.


Book Summary of Praying the Bible

Book in a Sentence

In this book, Donald Whitney lays out a methodology to help Christians pray through the Bible and stop feeling inadequate in their prayer lives.


Key Insights

1. We struggle with prayer because we don't know how to pray not because we don't think prayer is important.


2. The best way to pray is to use Scripture.


3. Removing the barrier of what to pray by turning to Scripture allows us to be more effective in our prayers.


My Rating

9/10

 

Book Notes

 

The problem according to John Piper:

If I try to pray for people or events without having the word in front of me guiding my prayers, then several negative things happen. One is that I tend to be very repetitive. . . . I just pray the same things all the time. Another negative thing is that my mind tends to wander. John Piper

Whitney, Donald S.. Praying the Bible (p. 11). Crossway. Kindle Edition.

 

The repetitious nature of prayer:

Truly born-again, genuinely Christian people—often do not pray simply because they do not feel like it. And the reason they don’t feel like praying is that when they do pray, they tend to say the same old things about the same old things.


Whitney, Donald S.. Praying the Bible (p. 11). Crossway. Kindle Edition.

 

The problem is not you:

If you are indwelled by the Holy Spirit—if you are born again—then the problem is not you; it is your method.


Whitney, Donald S.. Praying the Bible (p. 12). Crossway. Kindle Edition.

 

What the born again life does:

When someone is born again, the Holy Spirit gives that person new Fatherward desires, a new heavenward orientation whereby we cry, “Abba, Father!” In other words, all those indwelled by the Holy Spirit really want to pray. 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.

Whitney, Donald S.. Praying the Bible (p. 14). Crossway. Kindle Edition.

 

The problem is in your method:

The problem of boredom in prayer is not you; rather, it is your method.


Whitney, Donald S.. Praying the Bible (p. 15). Crossway. Kindle Edition.

 

Prayers without variety:

One prayer does not a prayer life make. Prayers without variety eventually become words without meaning.

Whitney, Donald S.. Praying the Bible (p. 17). Crossway. Kindle Edition.

 

Praying ABOUT the same thing is normal:

The problem is not that we pray about the same old things. To routinely pray about the same people and situations is perfectly normal...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.


Whitney, Donald S.. Praying the Bible (pp. 17-18, 20). Crossway. Kindle Edition.

 

Getting past you:

So now we’ve come to the most challenging part of this book. It’s possible that you have been saying the same old things about the same old things in prayer for so long that it’s hard for you to believe that you could easily learn to pray any other way, as though you were listening to a lung specialist say that you could easily change the way you breathe.

Whitney, Donald S.. Praying the Bible (p. 25). Crossway. Kindle Edition.

 

The solution:

What is the simple solution to the boring routine of saying the same old things about the same old thing? When you pray, pray through a passage of Scripture, particularly a psalm.

Whitney, Donald S.. Praying the Bible (p. 28). Crossway. Kindle Edition.

 

The best place to learn to pray through a passage:

The best place, however, for learning to pray through a passage of Scripture is in the book of Psalms.


Whitney, Donald S.. Praying the Bible (p. 28). Crossway. Kindle Edition.

 

Never running out of things to say:

[By praying the Bible], you never run out of anything to say, and, best of all, you never again say the same old things about the same old things.

Whitney, Donald S.. Praying the Bible (p. 32). Crossway. Kindle Edition.

 

What praying through scripture does:

So basically what you are doing is 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 become the wings of your prayers.


Whitney, Donald S.. Praying the Bible (p. 32). Crossway. Kindle Edition.

 

Piper on prayer:

Open the Bible, start reading it, and pause at every verse and turn it into a prayer. John Piper

Whitney, Donald S.. Praying the Bible (p. 33). Crossway. Kindle Edition.

 

How to pray the Bible:

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.

Whitney, Donald S.. Praying the Bible (p. 33). Crossway. Kindle Edition.

 

This method is more biblical:

I have enough confidence in the Word and the Spirit of God to believe that if people will pray in this way, in the long run their prayers will be far more biblical than if they just make up their own prayers.

Whitney, Donald S.. Praying the Bible (p. 37). Crossway. Kindle Edition.

 

What this method will help do:

By this means, the Spirit of God will use the Word of God to help the people of God pray increasingly according to the will of God.

Whitney, Donald S.. Praying the Bible (p. 37). Crossway. Kindle Edition.

 

What praying from the Word of God does:

Praying from the Word of God means your prayers include inspired words.

Whitney, Donald S.. Praying the Bible (p. 42). Crossway. Kindle Edition.

 

Not just praying ordinary words:

When you pray the Bible, you aren’t just praying ordinary words; you are praying words of spirit and life.

Whitney, Donald S.. Praying the Bible (p. 44). Crossway. Kindle Edition.

 

Giving the Psalms back to God:

God gave the Psalms to us so that we would give the Psalms back to God. No other book of the Bible was inspired for that expressed purpose.

Whitney, Donald S.. Praying the Bible (p. 46). Crossway. Kindle Edition.

 

What the psalms mean to us:

[God] revealed in the Psalms the praises that express the yearnings his Spirit produces in us and which are appropriate for and consistent with his glory. As we pray the Psalms, therefore, we are returning to God words that he expressly inspired for us to speak and sing to him.

Whitney, Donald S.. Praying the Bible (p. 48). Crossway. Kindle Edition.

 

Whitney's methodology (Psalms of the Day):

With the Psalms of the Day you take thirty seconds or so to quickly scan five specific psalms and pick the one that best leads you to prayer on that occasion. It’s based on taking the 150 psalms and dividing them by thirty days (because most months have at least thirty days). That results in five psalms per day. (If bringing math into prayer is making you skeptical, stay with me! There’s a simple chart in the back of the book that may visually convey all you’ll need to understand what I’m trying to describe.)


Whitney, Donald S.. Praying the Bible (p. 49). Crossway. Kindle Edition.

 

Christ's mediation in prayer:

Indeed, as Australian theologian Graeme Goldsworthy put it, “As you pray a psalm, think about the pathway from the psalm to you through the mediation of Christ.”


Whitney, Donald S.. Praying the Bible (p. 52). Crossway. Kindle Edition.

 

Psalms as a little Bible:

Book for book, I believe the best place in the Bible to pray the Bible is the book of Psalms. As someone has said, "The Psalms are like a little Bible. Every doctrine in the Bible is there: either in the bud or in the flower, but they are all there."

Whitney, Donald S.. Praying the Bible (p. 54). Crossway. Kindle Edition.

 

The Psalms and the New Testament:

In my experience, only the Psalms surpass the New Testament letters for the ease in which they can be turned into prayer.

Whitney, Donald S.. Praying the Bible (p. 55). Crossway. Kindle Edition.

 

10 Things this method does for you:

1. Your mind won't wander

2. Your prayers are more about God and less about you.

3. The time won't seem long, but short.

4. It will seem like a real conversation.

5. The psalm will speak directly to your life situation.

6. You will think more deeply about what the Bible says

7. You'll have greater reassurance that you're praying God's will

8. You'll pray about things you don't normally pray about.

9. You'll pray about things you normally pray about but in new ways.

10. I didn't say the same old things about the same old things.


Whitney, Donald S.. Praying the Bible (pp. 66-77). Crossway. Kindle Edition.

 

Praying all day if you want:

“Some people wonder how you can pray longer than five minutes,” says John Piper, “because they would lose things to pray for. But I say that if you open the Bible, start reading it, and pause at every verse and turn it into a prayer, then you can pray all day that way.”

Whitney, Donald S.. Praying the Bible (p. 68). Crossway. Kindle Edition.

 

Moving from monologue to conversation:

When we pray the Bible, though, our monologue to God becomes a conversation with God.

Whitney, Donald S.. Praying the Bible (p. 69). Crossway. Kindle Edition.

 

The broad nature of God's mind and word:

God’s mind and God’s Word are so much broader than our own perspective, and he will prompt you through the Bible to pray with an awareness for things far beyond the same old things.


Whitney, Donald S.. Praying the Bible (p. 74). Crossway. Kindle Edition.

 

The outcome of compelling ourselves to pray:

When we have to compel ourselves to pray, our prayers are joyless, our minds wander, and a very few minutes in prayer seems like hours. As a result we feel like spiritual failures, certain that we are second-rate Christians.

Whitney, Donald S.. Praying the Bible (p. 79). Crossway. Kindle Edition.

 

Mueller's prayer life:

Mueller had over fifty thousand specific recorded answers to prayers in his journals, thirty thousand of which he said were answered the same day or the same hour that he prayed them.


Whitney, Donald S.. Praying the Bible (p. 82). Crossway. Kindle Edition.

 

Moving to feeling like praying:

If you go to pray and your heart is cold as ice spiritually, you can take the fire of God’s Word and plunge it into your frosty heart by praying through a passage of Scripture. Then very soon, just as during that prayer exercise a short while ago, the Word of God warms your heart to the things of God, and you begin to feel like praying.

Whitney, Donald S.. Praying the Bible (p. 85). Crossway. Kindle Edition.

 

Jesus' final act:

Jesus prayed the Psalms. The final act of his earthly life was to pray the words of a psalm.


Whitney, Donald S.. Praying the Bible (p. 88). Crossway. Kindle Edition.

 




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