When we’re thinking about reformation we can easily focus exclusively on the ministry of the Word and forget the desperate need for prayer – or rather the desperate need for God expressed through prayer. In one of the best books available on the subject of prayer, Don Carson shows us how Word and Prayer go inseparably together. iServe Africa apprentice Ann Mwari reviews this must-read book.

A Call to Spiritual Reformation: Priorities from Paul and his prayers

D.A. Carson writes “A Call to Spiritual Reformation” with the aim of working through several of Paul’s prayers so as to help us hear God speak to us today and find strength and direction to improve our praying, both for God’s glory and for our good.

The writer begins by highlighting the urgent need of the Church – the need to have a deeper knowledge of God. He argues that one of the foundational steps in knowing God and one of the basic demonstrations that we know God, is prayer  – spiritual, persistent, biblically-minded prayer. In chapter one, the writer cites some of his Personal Lessons from the School of Prayer. This is followed by The Framework of Prayer in chapter two, focusing on 2nd Thessalonians 1:3-12. The writer gives Paul’s framework, majorly thankfulness for signs of grace and confidence in the prospect of vindication. In chapter three he highlights some worthy petitions made by Paul in 2nd Thessalonians 1:1-12.

In chapter 4 the writer brings out the aspect of Praying for Others, which is followed by A Passion for People in chapter 5 (1st Thesssalonians 3:9-13). The writer then gives the content of A Challenging Prayer in chapter 6, based on Colossians 1:9-14. In chapter seven and eight he gives some real life Excuses for Not Praying and helps with Overcoming the Hurdles (Phil. 1:9-11) respectively.

Chapter 9 of the book explains the mystery of God’s sovereignty and human responsibility, highlighting the need to pray to him with the view of His sovereign yet very personal nature. This is extended in Chapter 10 (Praying to a Sovereign God) with much focus on Ephesians 1:15-23. In chapter 11, Carson helps us understand how to Pray for Power based on Ephesians 3:14-21. Surprisingly (compared to what we might think we need power for), this power is meant to help us grasp the limitless dimensions of the love of Christ. Finally, he highlights on how to Pray for Ministry focusing on Romans 15:14-33.

These detailed yet clear explanations of some of Paul’s prayers have been helpful to me on understanding how to pray biblically. Besides explaining how to use the Scriptures to pray, the writer has also highlighted some excuses we use for not praying and given a few remedies for this lethargy. This is very helpful for the Church today, where most of us can talk about prayer and even read books on prayer yet still fail to pray.

This book contributes to meeting the need to grow into a deeper knowledge of God through a Biblical life of prayer. Therefore, I recommend it to every Christian, for growth in the knowledge of God and consequently in prayer.

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