Hopefully, we all know the Lord’s Prayer as a model for how we ought to shape our own prayer lives. But there are more prayers of Jesus in the Bible, in addition to the Lord’s Prayer, what can we take away from the entire prayer life of our Lord? That is the question Mark Jones sets out to answer in his recent book The Prayers of Jesus: Listening to and Learning From our Savior.
This book is a systematic walk-through of, well, the prayers of Jesus. These prayers are covered in roughly chronological order (so there is some jumping-around between the Gospels). Overall, this book is an excellent little devotional guide. Jones does a good job expositing each prayer and gives us solid instructions on how to think about Jesus praying and what His example means for us.
If there are weaknesses in this book, they are 1) the lack of overall structure/systematization and 2) lack of examples of practical application. In terms of the former, the introduction acts as an intro to Christology that explains how Jesus could pray while simultaneously being fully God, and to that end it’s a very useful, but broader systematization of the prayers themselves would have been helpful.
And on a side-note to the Introduction, Jones notes that:
“Theological conflicts prompted the Council of Chalcedon (451 AD), which resulted in the (beautifully written) Chalcedonian Creed. Some believe that Chalcedon resolved the question about what it means to affirm an orthodox view of Christ’s person. In general, this is true. But that does not mean the story is complete or fully resolved.” (15-16)
In terms of the second weakness, the lack of practical examples, I suspect that Dr. Jones would simply tell me to pick up Valley of Vision or Calvin on Prayer. And he would of course be right, but I think an example of two of how we can model Christ in both our personal lives and in the life of our church would have added to the strengths of this book. Just what words might one use in a confident, joyful prayer for church unity? How about one with a loud cry for the glory of God? And so on.
Still, these are minor weaknesses. Overall this book is one that we should all read and meditate on for the good of our devotional and corporate lives.
Dr. Coyle Neal is co-host of the City of Man Podcast and an Associate Professor of Political Science at Southwest Baptist University in Bolivar, MO