Book Review on Donald S. Whitney’s Praying The Bible


A Simple Guide To Learning How To Pray The Scriptures

Reviewed By Dr. David P. Craig

I have completed several books by Donald Whitney over the years and always appreciate the fact that he is doctrinally sound and extremely practical. This little book is no exception. Whitney’s goal in this book is to help the reader overcome the “boring routine of saying the same old things about the same old things” by teaching the reader the variety, freshness, and excitement of praying through the Bible.

Perhaps the most helpful chapter in the book is the section on “Praying the Psalms.” He quotes Ben Patterson, “By praying the Psalms back to God, we learn to pray in tune with the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit.” In learning to pray through the Psalms it helps the one praying to be (a) Balanced in prayer – as the Psalms convey every doctrine in the Bible; (b) Emotionally healthy – as the Psalms deal with every human emotion: joy, anger, fear, anxiety, discouragement, loneliness, etc.; (c) God centered – usually we have a tendency to be self-absorbed – the Psalms get our focus back on God; (d) Accurate – Whitney writes, “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 this express purpose.”

Whitney, also has a helpful guide to praying through the 150 Psalms in the back of the book. Praying through this plan insures direction and guidance for prayer as well as momentum for prayer. The author gives great examples of how to pray other Scriptures and various genres and even tackles some thorny questions related to prayer. I have been tremendously helped in my own prayer life by this terrific book and I’m convinced that it will help anyone grow in their excitement and communication with the Lord in prayer.







Book Review By David P. Craig

Nothing has revolutionized my own prayer life more than learning how to pray the Scriptures. In this very practical book Lutzer was inspired to pray more intentionally and biblically for his 8 grandchildren. He decided to pray through the Scriptures for them, rather than just making a list of needs and praying these needs back to God in a ritual-like format day after day. He wanted to avoid the “meaningless repetition” of prayer that Jesus describes in Matthew 6:7.

Lutzer asks and answers these two important questions (1) What if I changed my perspective on prayer and began to pray Scripture? and (2) What if I echoed back to God that which I know is His will? – Wouldn’t that stimulate more faith and bring God more glory?

Praying the Scriptures has many advantages over “list” oriented prayer: Here are just a few: (1) It gives a freshness to your prayer life – because you don’t know exactly what you will be praying for on a daily basis; (2) It aligns your prayers with God’s will – it’s more difficult to pray errantly when you are speaking the truth from God’s Word back to the truth Giver; (3) It reminds you daily of requirements and promises of God; (4) It helps you to hear from and communicate  intimately with God as He reveals His heart to you from His very words. (5) It aligns you with the will and sovereign plans of God. (6) It brings God’s purposes and intentions to bear on your life each time you pray.

Lutzer divides the book up into 52 weeks or prayer sessions. In each session there is a passage of Scripture, a brief explanation of the passage, and a prayer to pray based on the passage. An individual can pray these prayers for a loved one, a friend, a child, a parent, co-worker, and so forth. The prayers are about two to three paragraphs in length and cover such passages and topics as: overcoming fear; hope; worshiping God in trials; identity in Christ; purity; resisting temptation; and resting confidently in God’s love. There are 52 subjects covered. Lutzer (and his wife) prays these Scriptures over his children and grandchildren (one each day, two on Saturday’s) seven days a week.

I have been praying these prayers for my spouse, children, and grandchildren and it has helped make my prayers more focused, spontaneous, and well-rounded. Since you are praying specific prayers instead of just praying “God bless so and so” it is more intimate, personal, and intentional. I find that it has helped my prayer life to be less wooden and ritualistic and much more exciting as I am learning to pray the whole counsel of God over my loved ones. Daily covering my loved ones with God’s promises, and purposes from the whole counsel of God is an exciting way to pray that benefits my loved ones immensely.

I sincerely believe that this book will help renew, refresh, and rekindle your prayer life, invigorate your walk with our Heavenly Father, and help you to pray balanced prayers for the good of your loved ones so that God’s will is done on “Earth as it is in Haven.”

Evan Howard on How To Pray The Lord’s Prayer

Chart on Praying the Lord’s Prayer: Matthew 6:9-13

This chart outlines the main types of prayer as they are presented in the Lord’s Prayer. Use this outline to guide you through a time of prayer using these main types.

VERSE                                    HOW TO PRAY                        TYPE OF PRAYER

Our Father in heaven,hallowed be your name. Telling God how great He is and How much He means to you. Worship/Adoration and thanksgiving
Your kingdom come, your will be done, on earth as it is in heaven. Giving God total control over all the areas in your (or another’s) life Submission, Surrender
Give us this day our daily bread, Asking God to provide for today’s needs. Petition, intercession
And forgive us our debts, as we also have forgiven our debtors. Admitting your sin to God and asking for forgiveness; telling God how you have been sinned against and forgiving those who have hurt you. Confession
And lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from evil. Asking God to give you (or another) strength over particular areas of evil to which you (or another) fall prey. Supplication, deliverance

Chart adapted from “List A” in the very helpful book on prayer by Evan B. Howard. Praying The Scriptures: A Field Guide for Your Spiritual Journey. Downers Grove: IL.: IVP, 1999. I have changed the Scriptures used in the original chart to the ESV.

About the Author: Evan Howard is the director of the Spirituality Shoppe: An Evangelical Center for the Study of Christian Spirituality, based in Montrose, Colorado. He has served as a pastor at two churches and as an adjunct faculty member at Whitworth College. He is also the author of Brazos Introduction to Christian Spirituality & Affirming the Touch of God.