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Prayer and the Knowledge of God: What the Whole Bible Teaches Paperback – Special Edition, September 10, 2004
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About the Author
Graeme Goldsworthy is an Australian Anglican and Old Testament scholar. He was formerly lecturer in Old Testament, biblical theology and hermeneutics at Moore Theological College in Sydney, Australia and continues to teach there part time. Goldsworthy is the author of According to Plan, Preaching the Whole Bible as Christian Scripture, Gospel & Kingdom,The Gospel in Revelation and The Gospel and Wisdom. He has an MA from Cambridge University and a ThM and PhD from Union Theological Seminary in Virginia.
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Goldsworthy presents the scriptural practice of prayer, and teaching about prayer, comparing it primarily with common practice and teaching within the church (i.e., not with the egregious error I opened this review with), and finds much room for improvement. For example:
- Unlike the often expressed view that there is "power in prayer", power is in God; prayer is a means of grace by which we communicate with God;
- Unlike the often expressed view that there is "power in faith", power is in God; strong faith is not a mystic attitude by which we get God to do what we want, but a confidence in the God who really exists, through which we trust Him to do what He wants in us for his glory and thus for our joy;
- Unlike the popularly taught "Dear Jesus" prayers, Christian prayer is to the Father, through the Son, by the power of the Holy Spirit;
- In general, prayer rightly understood is all about God, it is not all about us.
Rather than ranting against non-Biblical patterns, Goldsworthy provides a better answer. This book is no sound byte theology build from an obscure verse. Goldsworthy surveys prayer throughout the Bible, considering how it develops from Genesis through Revelation. Each development is considered within its chronological context as God progressively revealed his plan, but always is interpreted it in light of the completed revelation in Jesus Christ as the intermediary by whom we pray to God the Father.
Goldsworthy does not lay a guilt trip on us for "not praying enough"; as in all of our lives, in ourselves we are indeed inadequate, but the solution to this is not "working harder", but God's grace.
Do not read this book expecting to find a ready "how to" manual. Goldsworthy would view that the form of prayer (liturgical or casual? spontaneous or formal?) is largely beside the point, and certainly secondary. What matters is that our developing practice of prayer be based on our developing knowledge of God, as he has revealed himself to us, and in light of our current position in Christ - who came to redeem us, who comes to be with us through his Spirit, and who is coming in the consummation. This book clearly lays out and communicates the major framework of this knowledge. The content of this book, translated into practice, will revolutionize much of the practice of prayer in the church today, bringing us back into alignment with God's vision of how it should be.
This book is readily understandable though (or because!) it is not written in a populist style. In dealing with its subject matter, one's entire worldview and theological framework necessarily play a part. Goldsworthy acknowledges, but does not elaborate on, his framework. Being that it is generally in agreement with what (I believe) to be true, I heartily commend this book to anyone seeking to align their practice of prayer with what God reveals it should be.