Ordained Servant Online



Prayers of the Bible: Review Article

Cynthia Rowland

Prayers of the Bible: Equipping Women to Call on God in Truth, by Susan Hunt. Phillipsburg, NJ: P&R, 2011, viii + 155 pages, $12.99, paper.

Prayers of the Bible: Equipping Women to Call on God in Truth, Leader’s Guide, by Susan Hunt. Phillipsburg, NJ: P&R, 2011, vi + 172 pages, $14.99, paper.

In her latest book, Prayers of the Bible: Equipping Women to Call on God in Truth, Susan Hunt follows a similar vein as her previous books with her emphasis on equipping women with sound, Reformed theology. Mrs. Hunt is a Women’s Ministry Consultant for the Presbyterian Church in America’s Christian Education and Publications Committee. She has authored several books, all with a focus of encouraging women to embrace true theology and apply it to their lives. A favorite, The True Woman,[1] challenges women to set aside the lure of today’s feminist agenda, which creates “the new woman,” as Hunt terms it, and embrace the Bible’s plan for a woman’s life which creates “a true woman.” In this latest work, Prayers of the Bible, Hunt explores biblical theology and the truth of Scripture by examining select prayers in the Bible.

Hunt states the purpose of this book in the introduction: to answer the question, “How do we learn to pray?” Her theme verse for the book is Psalm 145:18: “The LORD is near to all who call on him, to all who call on him in truth.” If I were to summarize its purpose in one phrase, it would be that it is to teach women how to pray in truth.

Hunt writes twelve chapters, each of which explores a prayer in Scripture and hones in on a theological truth. She begins chapter 1 by examining Paul’s prayer of doxology in Ephesians 1:1–14. From this prayer, she draws out the concept of the trinity and the function of each person of the trinity. Relating the roles of the trinity to the male/female distinction of human beings and tying it into Genesis 1–3, she teaches the truth of gender distinctiveness and woman’s role as helper. Finally, she introduces the idea of the covenant of grace and the concept of redemption. Each chapter applies the truth learned to a practical question: “How do we call on God in truth?” The answer to that question in this chapter is “with gratitude for our redemption” (24). Chapter 2 examines Jesus’s high priestly prayer from John 17 and ties it to the theme of glorifying God. In answer to the question, “How do we call on God in truth?” Hunt replies: “1) Pray for His glory and 2) Pray according to His eternal plan and purpose” (35).

The structure of each chapter works nicely as a devotional. Each chapter follows the same format: a prayer is studied, a theological truth relating to this prayer is introduced, the question “How do we call on God in truth?” is answered, a real-life anecdote is conveyed, and application/assignment questions (in a section called “reflect and pray”) are given at the end. The “reflect and pray” section contains excellent, stimulating questions and encourages probing introspection designed to help mature the reader and solidify the chapter’s subject matter. I found that each chapter fits nicely with a week’s devotional time, allowing a reader to study one prayer and corresponding theological truth per week.

Along with the book, Hunt has designed a leader’s guide which would fully equip a women’s Bible study leader. The guide has a complete agenda for each study along with hand-outs and ideas for developing or strengthening relationships within the group. Susan’s ideas and agendas are a result of her many years of experience leading women’s groups. Having led several studies myself, I can see how this material would be extremely useful and time-saving.

Readers might also be interested in another book on the topic of prayer that takes a fairly different angle: Paul Miller’s book A Praying Life: Connecting with God in a Distracting World.[2] This book provides a unique perspective on prayer as a relationship, where prayer is likened to a “feast.” Miller effectively tackles head-on the difficult issues of praying when it doesn’t seem like your prayers ever get answered (he calls it “the desert”) and of Jesus’s seemingly over-the-top promise that if we ask for anything in his name, he will do it (John 14:14). He addresses how our cynical cultural attitudes are bleeding over to our Christian worldviews and ultimately to our cynicism in prayer. Most importantly, he emphasizes our utter helplessness without prayer. This book also comes with a DVD seminar conducted by Paul Miller and a study guide for use in a group setting. I highly recommend this series as a companion study as it focuses on additional prayer issues.

In a world in which the church is surprisingly ignorant of or progressively shedding the fundamental principles of the Christian faith, I am encouraged to read sound books like the ones that Susan Hunt is writing. Truly, sound theology is the foundation of Christian maturity and effective prayer. This book certainly challenges women to study the Scriptures daily and apply its truth to their lives and prayers.

Endnotes

[1] Susan Hunt, The True Woman (Wheaton: Crossway, 1997).

[2] Paul Miller, A Praying Life: Connecting with God in a Distracting World (Colorado Springs, CO: Navpress, 2009).

Cynthia Rowland is a member of Amoskeag Presbyterian Church (OPC) in Manchester, New Hampshire. Ordained Servant Online, March, 2012.

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