Reflections and Blog

Book Recommendation: Praying the Bible by Donald Whitney

Something I recommended in my recent sermons on the spiritual discipline of prayer was praying through the model prayers of Scripture. I mentioned that I started this practice myself in seminary and that praying this way has reshaped my prayers to be more biblical. Well, the catalyst for my beginning to pray this way was an excellent book I read by Donald Whitney called Praying the Bible. The book is relatively short (112 pages and with big font), easy to understand, and extremely practical in showing a more rewarding way to pray than what we often use. I commend Whitney’s book and method to you as a wonderful aid to your own prayer lives.

Below, to whet your appetites, I’ve included the seller’s description, a book excerpt, and a link to free, short videos from Donald Whitney explaining and showing how you can pray the Bible.

All Christians know they should pray, but sometimes it’s hard to know how—especially if the minutes start to drag and our minds start to wander. Offering readers hope, encouragement, and the practical advice they’re looking for, this concise book by professor Donald Whitney outlines a simple, time-tested method that can help transform our prayer lives: praying the words of the Bible. Praying the Bible shows readers how to pray through portions of Scripture one line at a time, helping us stay focused by allowing God’s Word itself to direct our thoughts and words. Simple yet profound, this resource will prove invaluable to all Christians as they seek to commune with their heavenly Father in prayer each and every day.

Excerpt, pp. 38-39:
That’s it. If you are praying through a psalm, you simply read that psalm line by line, talking to God about whatever thoughts are prompted by the inspired words you read. If your mind wanders from the subject of the text, take those wandering thoughts Godward, then return to the text. If you come to a verse you don’t understand, just skip it and go to the next verse. If you don’t understand that one, move on. If you do understand it but nothing comes to mind to pray about, go to the next verse. If sinful thoughts enter in, pray about them and go on. You may read twenty or thirty verses in that psalm, and yet on a given day have only five or six things come to mind. No problem. Nothing says you have to pray over every verse. Nothing says you have to finish the psalm.

I was teaching this method at a church in Santa Rosa, California, and gave the people an opportunity to try praying through a passage of Scripture. One woman prayed for twenty-five minutes and never got past “The LORD is my shepherd.” For nearly half an hour she talked to the Lord about those five words. Do you think that in heaven the Lord was saying, in a huff, “You didn’t finish the psalm!”? No, I think he was delighted that she found so much delight in him as her shepherd that she could talk to him for twenty-five minutes about that, regardless of whether she prayed through the rest of the psalm. At other times, though—and this is probably more common—you will go through many verses and only a few matters will come to mind. Fine; just keep turning the page.

Praying the Bible with Don Whitney (YouTube)
Praying the Bible with Don Whitney, Day 1 (YouTube)
Praying the Bible with Don Whitney, Day 2 (YouTube)
Praying the Bible with Don Whitney, Day 3 (YouTube)
Praying the Bible with Don Whitney, Day 4 (YouTube)
Praying the Bible with Don Whitney, Day 5 (YouTube)