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Before God: The Biblical Doctrine of Prayer Paperback – December 31, 2009
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Before God: The Biblical Doctrine of Prayer written by Mike Sarkissian is one of the best books about prayer that I have read. I have read works by E.M. Bounds, Arthur Pink, R.A. Torrey, and other great writers and theologians and Before God is definitely one that can stand next to them.
Mike writes in a clear and concise manner that will encourage you to look at your own prayer life and see perhaps why it may not be as effective as you would like to enjoy.
I have read several works on what is considered the "Lord's prayer;" and Mr. Sarkissian superbly breaks it down and explains why it is the example we should pay heed to when we pray.
In Part One we learn what prayer is by starting with how we should measure truth in regards to prayer and what it is. After looking at feelings, experience, faith, and reason; we go to scripture to find it to be the most accurate measuring tool.
In Part Two we learn the components of prayer including an exegesis of the Lord's Prayer. Which is, by the way, one of the best I have had the privileged of studying.
Part Three Mike gives us additional thoughts on prayer which he ends with a look at a remarkable man of God and his prayer life, Robert Murray McCheyne.
All in all, I have to say, this is one of the better books about prayer that I have had the privilege to read. It will definitely be one that I will study and read again. It contains so many truths that I would consider it a must read; for the individual and definitely for a small group study. Anyone reading it will find their prayer life greatly enhanced, I know I have.
Mike Sarkissian graciously provided me with a copy of this book for the purpose of review. You can read more about the book on the Facebook page. It can also be found HERE.
A little about Mike Sarkissian:
He is a pastor at Sovereign Grace Community Church in Perris, California (sovereigngracecc.org). He has several degrees in Theology from Trinity College and Seminary, and Education from Azusa Pacific University. Mike is currently in a Doctoral program at Covenant Theological Seminary.
This book was published through Xulon Press, a self-publishing house.
When God wanted to convince Ananias that he should visit Saul of Tarsus and lay hands upon him and pray for him when Saul had been a dangerous persecutor of Christians, He said of Saul, "for behold, he prayeth", Acts 9:11. God clearly regarded genuine prayer as a good indicator of spiritual life and it was something He noticed. How many of us pray the way we should? Mike Sarkissian endeavors to tell us what Biblical prayer is and to encourage us to do it in his Before God: The Biblical Doctrine of Prayer.
Mr. Sarkissian's treatise on prayer is divided into three parts. In the first, he deals with "What is prayer?", initially setting out a methodology for the book by dealing with false ways of determining religious truth and then setting forth the Scriptures as the right way to do so. Prayer, Mr. Sarkissian demonstrates, is communication and communion with God. Jesus is considered as an example of the life of prayer.
Part two of the book deals with the components of prayer, exegeting the Lord's Prayer in seven chapters, and taking an additional chapter to consider thanksgiving, adoration, praise, and intercession. The third part deals with other issues regarding prayer, including chapters on the importance of prayer, the manner of prayer, and some other concerns, before concluding with an inspiring chapter on the prayer life of noted nineteenth century Scottish preacher, Robert Murray McCheyne.
Mr. Sarkissian throughout is thoroughly Biblical and quotes from the Puritans and their successors in helpful ways as well. His book not only tells you about prayer, but does so in a way that actually encourages you to pray, which makes it really valuable.
As for weaknesses, there is at least one topic unmentioned, the inclusion of which might have strengthened the book, namely the matter of imprecatory prayer. With some Christians saying that such prayers should never be prayed while others contend that they can and should be prayed in our own day, a consideration of this issue might have been helpful. In addition, I would have enjoyed seeing a further chapter on historical examples of prayer seen in the lives of American prayer warriors such as David Brainerd or John Hyde. These matters, however, are not serious detractions from what is an excellent book on prayer which I would heartily commend to all.
In the interest of full disclosure, I should say that I did obtain a free review copy of the book from the author.
He also provides the reader with suggestions for increasing the intensity, duration, and consistency in the process of discovering a more meaningful prayer life.
An underlying theme comes through Sarkissian's writing. It is his profound desire to inform, encourage, and challenge the reader to discover and pursue a more effective prayer life which results in an outpouring of the Holy Spirit and revival.
The book is divided into three parts: In part One, Sarkissian give a clear concept of prayer as he talks about feelings, experience, reason, and faith. He describes these ideas further by introducing Biblical case studies, prayer as communication, Jesus' prayer life, and His role as intercessor.
Part Two describes the components of prayer and includes an exegesis of the Lord's Prayer. Part Three includes some additional thoughts on prayer as well as an important chapter on the Life and ministry of Robert Murray McCheyne.
An extensive Bibliography is rich in resources used in Sarkissian's research and serves as a list of suggested additional reading. These titles referenced are books the reader may want to add to their personal library.
This is a book for the new believer, the seasoned saint, whether lay-person or theologically trained. Ideal for personal or small group studies.