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A Call to Spiritual Reformation: Priorities from Paul and His Prayers Paperback – June 1, 1992
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From the Back Cover
God doesn't demand hectic church programs and frenetic schedules; he only wants his people to know him more intimately, says D. A. Carson. The apostle Paul found that spiritual closeness in his own fellowship with the Father. A Call to Spiritual Reformation investigates the Epistles to see what lessons Paul taught in his "school of prayer."
Christians today can still achieve the confidence Paul enjoyed by following his life-shaping principles and searching for a deeper devotional experience.
"[This book] provides a . . . pointed argument that the greatest need for churches today is not education, evangelism, or programs, but a deeper knowledge of God. It contributes to filling that need by assisting those who read it to a fuller life of prayer."
Review and Expositor
"The reader is guided, gently yet persuasively, towards a reformation in personal dealings with God. This excellent and timely book can be heartily commended."
The Banner of Truth
D. A. Carson is professor of New Testament at Trinity Evangelical Divinity School, Deerfield, Illinois. He is the author of How Long, O Lord? and editor of Teach Us to Pray and Right with God.
About the Author
D. A. Carson is Research Professor of New Testament at Trinity Evangelical Divinity School, Deerfield, Illinois. He is the author of How Long, O Lord? and editor of Teach Us to Pray and Right with God.
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In Praying with Paul, A Call to Spiritual Reformation (2nd Ed.), Carson invites the reader to look with him at some of the Apostle Paul’s prayers to the Father. What is Paul’s perspective when he prays? Does he pray for good health? A good life? Or does he pray for wisdom? Life? And not only for himself, but for others too? Carson looks at prayer through Paul’s eyes (along with Moses and Daniel), the proper perspective of God, and why we should pray when God is sovereign and already has the plan laid out.
In Chapter One, Carson lists 8 practical prayer helps that he has received from more mature prayer warriors. In the following chapters he works through 2 Thessalonians 1.1-12 (and 1.3-12), 1 Thessalonians 3.9-13; Colossians 1.9-14; Philippians 1.9-11; Ephesians 1.15-23; 3.14-21; and Romans 15.14-33. Chapters 4, 7, and 9 are more topical dealing with praying for others, excuses we make not to pray, and how prayer changes things if God is sovereign.
The entire book is a gem. Carson knows the hardships in prayer. “The idea… is that Paul understands real praying to include an element of struggle, discipline, work, spiritual agonizing against the dark powers of evil. Insofar as the Roman Christians pray this way for Paul, they are joining him in his apostolic struggle” (188). In praying we are warring against the enemy. No wonder it’s so difficult! And it’s not enough to know theology. It’s not enough to know about God. We need to know Him. He is a personal God, and we are to pray for his promises in our lives and in the lives of others.
Recommended all the way.
[Special thanks to Baker Academic for allowing me to review this book! I was not required to provide a positive review in exchange for this book.]
Carson does not set out in A Call to Spiritual Reformation to give readers a complete biblical theology of prayer. Instead, he goes to Paul’s prayers and holds them up as a good model for believers to follow. The reason he goes to Paul is because he sees Paul in prayer consistently addressing what Carson sees as the Church’s greatest need: a deeper knowledge of God.
The book is organized into twelve chapters and runs 225 pages in my edition. Each chapter is either an exposition of one of Paul’s prayers or a topical presentation from Carson on key aspects of prayer. I found this format helpful because the topical chapters tended to show how the principles of exposition in the other chapters could be applied in every day ways.
Following an introduction which compellingly lays out Carson’s thesis that the greatest need of the church is a deeper knowledge of God, the opening chapter of the book contains many practical tips from what Carson calls the “school of prayer.” The book then launches into two chapters which are expositions of prayers from 2 Thessalonians. Chapter four covers the topic of praying for others, using the example of Paul to show that intercession for others is a primary task of Christians in prayer. Chapters five and six contain expositions of prayers from 1 Thessalonians and Colossians. Chapter seven is an outstanding and challenging chapter on excuses for not praying. Chapter eight is a lengthy chapter on one of my favorite prayers of Paul, Philippians 1:9-11. In chapter nine, Carson deals with the issue of prayer and the sovereignty of God, showing how they fit together. In chapter ten, Carson uses an exposition of Ephesians 1 to show that Paul is a model of fervent prayer and deep belief in God’s sovereignty. Chapters eleven and twelve center on ministry as Carson expounds on two Pauline prayers in Ephesians 3 and Romans 15 respectively. The book closes on a pastoral note as Carson prays for his readers in a short Afterword.
I was helped by Carson’s book to see themes in Paul’s prayers that I hadn’t considered as carefully in the past. The topical chapters also effectively addressed some hurdles to prayer in my life and gave me a better perspective. This is neither a light book nor a work of scholarship with extensive footnotes and the like. But for believers who desire to grow in prayer, few books will be as helpful as Carson’s study of Paul’s prayers in A Call to Spiritual Reformation.
mention a prayer from it I read last night.
On pages 80-81, Carson shows Paul's prayer from 1 Thess. 2:17 to 3:13. He then starts a long but deep discussion about how Paul DEEPLY CARED FOR THE BELIEVERS UNDER HIM. THIS IS so different from much of modern Christianity, where this type of deep love for other believers is often lacking--in its purity, simplicity and passion. Carson is careful to mention that it is not a concern based on being rewarded with monetary things or with more compliments from his disciples. No, it is a true Spirit-filled love, which enables them to be a true family of God. Paul is never a spiritual manager. He is a co-brother in Christ, whose deep concern and passion for them is a HUGE PRIORITY FOR HIM. Carson points out that this is the biblical model. I have been blessed by God to have started in an immigrant church where this type of love is real. How sad I feel for most of the church out there where this is the exception rather than the rule. You need to buy this book and pray through it as you pray through Paul's prayers. May God bless you richly in His love and wisdom, may He give you this type of love, by His power, for other believers.