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No Holds Barred: Wrestling with God in Prayer Paperback – Bargain Price, March 15, 2005

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Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

As senior pastor of a Presbyterian church in Irvine, Calif., Roberts (Dare to Be True; Jesus Revealed) readily admits that his conservative denomination is not always comfortable with the emotive and often volatile sentiments in the book of Psalms. In fact, his own personal discomposure over the emotionally stark content of numerous Psalms challenged him to the further study that resulted in this book. Citing Hebrews 4:14–16, where Christians are instructed to approach God's throne boldly, Roberts advocates "going toe-to-toe with the Almighty," using the Psalms as examples. Many of the Psalms deal directly with expressing the darker side of human emotion such as vengeance, desperation and doubt, while others, like Psalm 47, take the opposite course and focus on expressing joyful prayer through energetic songs and clapping. Perhaps the most astonishing topic Roberts covers is the prayer of vengeance as found in Psalm 69, where the Psalmist calls upon his enemies to be destroyed. Roberts asserts that even this expression of bitter hatred has its uses, including the eventual healing and reconciliation of the supplicant. Overall, he skillfully dissects the Psalms and pleads for fellow believers to step alongside him, reaping the cleansing power such transparency affords. New Christians and seasoned veterans alike will find some freshly presented and practical prayer disciplines to mull over and implement. (Mar. 15)
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Praise for No Holds Barred

“This inspiring book is an invitation to bold, honest, and passionate communication with God. Mark Roberts points us to a biblical view of prayer, full of reality and reverence. Mark reminds us of the astounding freedom in prayer we find throughout the Psalms, and encourages us to take advantage of that freedom. Read this book and discover your ‘inner psalmist’!”
–Matt Redman, songwriter, worship leader, author of Facedown and The Unquenchable Worshipper

No Holds Barred is fresh, practical, and profound–a rarity in contemporary books on prayer. Mark Roberts gently guides us into more sincere prayer, helping us overcome our inhibitions and press into the bold and often shocking prayers of the Psalms. This book will richly reward those who take its truth to heart and who apply the principles Mark Roberts so ably explores.”
–Gary Thomas, author of Sacred Pathways and Sacred Marriage

“If you’re tired of hiding from God, No Holds Barred could be your route to spiritual honesty. One chapter after another explores the well-traveled tributaries of the Psalms, ancient conduits for navigating the wonders, chaos, and tragedies of life.”
–Sally Morgenthaler, author of Worship Evangelism, founder of and Digital Glass Productions

No Holds Barred personalizes the Psalms for me and gives me lots of tools to communicate with God. Mark Roberts shows us not just the actions and words of praying the Psalms, but also the right heart, attitude, and theology behind those actions and words. This book will help you pray through the tough situations of life, and show you how to be utterly honest with God–no matter how you feel.”
–Andy Park, worship leader, songwriter, author of To Know You More

“Mark Roberts gives us not only the permission but also the biblical mandate of wrestling with God in prayer. He writes with no holds barred as he invites us to discover profound theological truths and to participate in the book’s practical exercises. In doing so, he brings us boldly to God’s throne of grace with confidence.”
–Libby Vincent, Presbyterian pastor and adjunct professor, Fuller Theological Seminary

“In No Holds Barred, Mark Roberts brings the unique perspective of pastor and theologian to one of the most pressing concerns of the day: How shall we pray, and specifically, how do the Psalms tell us to pray? As with his previous books, Mark blends the easy accessibility of a sermon with the deep learning of a scholar-theologian to bring every reader closer to the heart of the Psalms and thus to the heart of God.”
–Hugh Hewitt, best-selling author, radio host of the nationally syndicated Hugh Hewitt Show

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Product Details

  • Paperback: 208 pages
  • Publisher: WaterBrook Press (March 15, 2005)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 157856705X
  • ISBN-13: 978-1578567058
  • ASIN: B003E7EYDA
  • Product Dimensions: 6 x 0.8 x 9 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 8 ounces
  • Average Customer Review: 4.7 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (6 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #4,154,169 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

More About the Author

The Rev. Dr. Mark D. Roberts is a pastor, author, retreat leader, speaker, and blogger. Since October 2007 he has been the Senior Director and Scholar-in-Residence for Laity Lodge, a multifacted ministry in the Hill Country of Texas. Before then, he was for sixteen years the Senior Pastor of Irvine Presbyterian Church in Irvine, California (a city in Orange County about forty miles south of Los Angeles).

Mark studied at Harvard University, receiving a B.A. in Philosophy, an M.A. in the Study of Religion, and a Ph.D. in New Testament and Christian Origins. He has taught classes in New Testament for Fuller Theological Seminary and San Francisco Theological Seminary.

Mark writes an "almost-daily" blog, found at He also writes a devotional for The High Calling of Our Daily Work, a website associated with Laity Lodge. His "Daily Reflections" can be viewed online or sent as a daily email (

Mark serves on the editorial board of Worship Leader magazine, where he publishes articles and reviews, including his regular column "Lyrical Poetry." Additionally, he has published dozens of articles in leading magazines and journals. He often speaks for churches and other Christian groups, and has been interviewed on over seventy-five radio programs nationwide.

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18 of 18 people found the following review helpful By on April 2, 2005
Format: Paperback
If your prayers feel routine, tired or cliché, get ready for a prayer shift. In NO HOLDS BARRED: Wrestling with God in Prayer, Mark Roberts (DARE TO BE TRUE, JESUS REVEALED) mines the Psalms for ways to move us from perfunctory prayer to an all-out, nothing-held-back conversation with God. "He wants us to come at him with everything we've got," says Roberts.

In each chapter, Roberts explores a different dimension of our communication with God, illustrated from the book of Psalms (asking, remembering, worshiping, thanking, etc.). Exercises are included to apply what is learned from each chapter.

No-holds-barred prayer was initially counter-intuitive for Roberts, who was raised with a traditional Presbyterian example of prayer: Deeply committed prayers? Yes. Gut-wrenching cries for divine help? No. When he tried to discover why he and so many Christians prefer "restrained" prayer, he discovered:

Most of us are taught to talk to God with retinence.

We don't hear other believers pray with abandon.

We're afraid we'll be penalized by God for telling him what we really think.

We have an incomplete or inaccurate image of God (the angry tyrant, the judge, a faithful sidekick).

Our sin interferes with our ability to pray.

He admits that some of his advice on prayer might seem contradictory, but then, so are the Psalms. For example, in one chapter Roberts emphasizes our need for solitude and stillness (Psalm 46:10, "Be still and know that I am God.") In the next chapter, Roberts urges us to energetic expression: singing, shouting, raising our hands. "If it's in the Bible...I'll do it!" He advocates both approaching God's throne boldly, and also offering worship with reverence and awe.
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8 of 8 people found the following review helpful By Phillip H. Steiger VINE VOICE on September 19, 2005
Format: Paperback
This book is a wonderful and perceptive guide to praying through the Psalms. Through each chapter, Roberts adeptly addresses different issues raised through the Psalms and how to fold them into your prayer life. Among the many things he addresses are prayers of confession, worship, praise, and silence, and each topic is addressed with personal and pastoral sensitivity.

A growing topic of emphasis in evangelical circles in the last decade or so has been personal and corporate spiritual formation. Although this book does not label itself as being in that tradition, I think it can fit very neatly and usefully into anyone's quest for personal spiritual growth. Each chapter concludes with a short suggestion on how to implement the Psalms into a prayer life both corporately and personally, and the final chapter contains several helpful and guiding questions relevant for each section.

I have personally benefited from this work, not just in my quest to deepen my prayer life, but in my appreciation for the Psalms as well. No Holds Barred would make a great resource for personal enrichment as well as a great text for a small group wanting to take this kind of journey together.
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By RG on January 14, 2014
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
This is one of the best books I've read on the subject of prayer. It is clearly written and biblically based. Replete with insights. I highly recommend it!

The book itself was in excellent condition and the seller delivered fast. I would not hesitate to purchase other items from them!
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