Tag Archives: Don Whitney

Book Review: Praying the Bible

Don Whitney has done it again. He takes something that seems to bewilder most people and simplifies it and yet enhances it all at the same time. From the first chapter, Whitney understands the struggle that most Christians have with prayer. “We can be talking to the most fascinating person in the universe about the most important things in our lives and be bored to death,” (p. 12). That statement isn’t so much an indictment against those who struggle to find prayer meaningful, but an acknowledgement that something has happened to our understanding of what prayer is. One thing I found humorous about this book is that Don Whitney says the same sentence time and again, and I am sure he did it for effect. If you pick up the book and read it, you’ll understand; I won’t give it away.

From chapter 2 on, Dr. Whitney takes his reader on an adventure of seeing prayer in a new light.  Each chapter takes the reader step by step through praying through the Bible. He explains the actual solution in the second chapter, making the claim that “every Christian can have a meaningful, satisfying prayer life,” (p. 24). I would agree with him if every Christian who struggles with prayer would take this book to heart and simply employ the principles he has written.

Chapters 3 and 4 are more about the method–going deeper than chapter 2. Starting in chapter 5 is when the reader gets to see the prayers in action. Dr. Whitney takes one through praying the Psalms. Having read the book, it has been the Psalms that I have used mostly. It wasn’t until yesterday that I went elsewhere in the Bible to pray.  “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,” (p. 46). The next chapter deals quickly with praying through the other parts of Scripture.  By chapter 7, the beloved author is not willing to let praying simply be theoretical, but actual. He calls upon the reader to stop reading and pray. . .for 7 minutes! By the time one has read through his work, seven minutes while sounds daunting, isn’t. In fact, it went by way too fast for me.

I must say that this book is the most practical book on prayer that I’ve read. I love Paul Miller’s A Praying Life and Tim Keller’s Prayer: Experiencing Awe and Intimacy with God. Paul Tautges has a wonderful book on prayer called Teach Them to Pray. But it is Dr. Donald Whitney’s book that takes the cake for most practical. Published by Crossway Books in 2015, Praying the Bible barely squeaks out 100 pages (my arbitrary minimum number of pages to be considered a book), including the appendices. If you have trouble with your prayer life, try picking up a copy of this book and put it into practice. Five out of five stars! It retails for $13.99, but you can get it on Amazon for $11.89 with prime shipping or on Christian Book Distributors on sale for $5.99 (+ shipping)!

 

Why I Hated Journaling, But Now Love It

One of the spiritual disciplines that Don Whitney wrote about in his book Spiritual Disciplines for the Christian Life is journaling.  I have long heard that journaling was good for the soul and have even encouraged others to do it. But secretly (or not so secretly) I hated doing it.  It seemed a waste of time.  Every time I went to do it, I didn’t know what to write.  What if I wrote something that others would see later and I either misunderstood a situation and expressed my thoughts wrongly, wrote about something embarrassing, or something like that?  I had nothing to say, and so I would start a few times but it never stuck. Sometimes I would use my journaling to write out my prayers, but that never stuck.  Nothing worked.cropped-full-width1.jpgEventually I went to the internet to see what I was doing wrong, but none of the sites I went to really helped.  They all said that there is no wrong way to journal, as long as I did it.  I could draw pictures.  Why would I want to draw pictures? I could write about my day. Looking back at my day or looking forward to my day? Yada, yada, yada.  Nothing really worked for me.

However, a few weeks ago, I started doing something that has actually gotten me into journaling.  I am enjoying it more than ever and there is so much added benefit to it.  It doesn’t take very long, but it takes a bit of effort (enough to keep it challenging, but not too difficult to just give up).  Whereas before I had a difficult time coming up with a sentence, I now am writing about a page a day.  If you have difficulty keeping a journal, perhaps this will work for you as well.

What I decided to do was combine two practices into one.  The first is to write about something interesting (good or bad) that happened the day before and if I know of something coming up during the current day, to write about that as well.  It’s only about two or three sentences usually.  Hardly ever is it more than six sentences.  The second part is that whole “daily Proverb” thing that people are apt to do.  I will cease writing for a few moments while I read my daily Proverb (since today is September 3, I read the third chapter of Proverbs; tomorrow being the fourth day of the month, I will read the fourth chapter, and so forth).  I will read through the entire chapter, highlighting verses that stick out to me.  I will then choose a verse or a group of verses (if the thought runs over, like Proverbs 3:5-6) and I will write out that verse/group in my journal.  From that point, I will meditate on the verse and write my thoughts out.

For instance from August 31:

Still having trouble with my sermon.  I’m not sure why I’m having such a block.  Hoping to resurface the driveway today and tomorrow.  I’m wanting to get action as days go on.

Giver her the fruit of her hands, and let her works praise her in the gates. Prov. 31:31

Wives often have a thankless job.  They work hard and keep the family going.  Yet it is so often overlooked.  Two times Lemuel speaks of the gates: here & in verse 23, referring to the husband.  Perhaps her husband is being called to publicly praise his wife.

That’s all I wrote, but taking the time to read my Bible, meditate on it, and write out my own thoughts keeps those thoughts from being fleeting thoughts.  It causes me to share those thoughts with myself in journal form (and sometimes text or tell them to others), but to continue to develop those thoughts throughout the day simply because I took time to write them down.

This has made all the difference in the world to me in my journaling.  Maybe everyone is right, there’s no wrong way to journal, at least on the broad spectrum.  However, I have found there are wrong ways for me to journal, and I am glad I seem to have found the way that works for me.

If you’d like, I’d love to read your thoughts on journaling and how you do it.  You don’t have to share any of your entries, but just a description of what you usually do when you write.