Book Review: Why We Pray

In Why We Pray, William Philip approaches the topic of prayer in a practical way based on a series of sermons he had preached on the topic. The four chapters in the book are the author’s four answers to question of why we should pray. Firstly, Philip reminds readers that prayer is a conversation and relationship with God. In creation, He spoke all things into being and ultimately spoke to us through the living Word, Jesus Christ. In Jesus, we now have access to the Triune God and we join in their conversation and relationship through the power of the Holy Spirit. Although sin has tarnished our relationship with God, this is recovered through Christ whose life and work brings us back to God. Thus, prayer is only possible through faith in Jesus Christ. In the second chapter, Philip asserts that we pray because we are the sons of God. Christ, being the Son of God, has redeemed us and through the Spirit, we have been adopted into the family of God. As the beloved children of God then, we have the privilege to come to God and know that He accepts us and hears our prayers. Next, the author states that we pray because God is sovereign. When we present our prayers to Him, we know that He can accomplish all that is in His will. Our prayers are not simply shaped by what we want but by what we know our Father wants. Thus, our prayers allow us to participate in the divine purposes of God. Lastly, we pray because we have the Spirit of God. The Spirit transforms our prayers as He intercedes for us and works in us to pray according to God’s will. Moreover, Scripture, as the inspired Word of God, informs us of what we can and need to pray for.

This book may be fairly short but the author’s message is very applicable to many Christians. We all feel that we should pray more but often feel too weak and unmotivated to pray. I know that I make the resolution year after year to pray more but often give up a few weeks into the New Year. Philip, writing with a pastoral heart, wants to encourage readers that praying is quite natural once we understand that our God enjoys conversing with us. In fact, to re-establish our relationship with Him, He sent His own Son to make it possible for us to enter His presence clothed in Christ’s righteousness. Furthermore, He has sent His Spirit to comfort and move us to speak to Him every moment of our lives. After reading this book, I came to a realization that praying is not about how much effort we can conjure up. True prayer that God accepts and is pleased with can only be done in Christ and through His Spirit not through our weak efforts.

In compliance with Federal Trade Commission regulations, I was provided a free review copy of this book from Crossway.

Book Review: The Incarnation of God

In The Incarnation of God, John Clark and Marcus Johnson urge Christians to re-focus on the extravagant majesty and mystery of Christ as the incarnate living Word of God. In just under 240 pages, the authors pack a combination of intriguing insights and pastoral reflections to illustrate how a robust understanding of Christ as the eternal God-man is essential to a proper understanding of all aspects of life. Clark and Johnson lament how modern evangelicals have relegated Christ’s birth, life, death, and resurrection to be merely past events that confer us the benefits of salvation. On the contrary, the authors explain that Christ’s incarnation is not simply a means to remove our sins and gain eternal life. The motivation in sending the Son comes from the eternal love that bonds the Father, Son, and Spirit. That is, Christ’s ministry on earth and in heaven is to bring His people into the loving relationship of the Trinity.  Throughout the book, the authors use Scripture, historical confessions, and faithful scholars as foundations to remind readers that Christ is the Way, Truth, and Life by which we have access to the Triune Godhead. In addition, the authors focus on unity with Christ by the Spirit as key to embracing the mystery of the incarnation. Clark and Johnson warn that separating Christ and His work is a danger to a vibrant spiritual life.  If we are to be Christ’s witness to the world, we need to be united to Christ instead of merely clinging on to the work of Christ. In each chapter, the material proceeds from theological exposition to practical outworking of how a faithful, orthodox understanding of Christ’s incarnation is vital to the Christian life.

I would heartily recommend this book for Christians who have lost their initial awe and wonder of the gospel message that they first experienced upon conversion. I find that I am very prone to simply proclaim Christ’s work without proclaiming Christ Himself. It is tempting to hide behind big words such as “justification” and “sanctification” without telling others by whom we contrive the benefits of being justified and sanctified. I appreciate how the authors remind us that Christ, as both God and man, is still continually reconciling us to God while bringing God’s presence to us through the Spirit. The incarnation is not merely a historical event but the ever-present reality that God has revealed and continues to reveal Himself to us through His Son by the Holy Spirit.

In compliance with Federal Trade Commission regulations, I was provided a free review copy of this book from Crossway.