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Taking Hold of God

By Joel Beeke
March 2012 | Review by Tony Bickley

Synopsis

In Taking Hold of God, you will enter the treasury of the church of Jesus Christ and discover some of its most valuable gems on the subject of Christian prayer. The writings of the Reformers and Puritans shine with the glory of God in Christ, offering us much wisdom and insight today that can make our own prayer lives more informed, more extensive, more fervent, and more effectual. Six contemporary scholars explore the writings and prayer lives of several Reformers and Puritans—among them Martin Luther, John Calvin, William Perkins, Matthew Henry, and Jonathan Edwards—guiding us to growth in prayer and a more grateful communion with God.

  • Publisher: Reformation Heritage Books
  • ISBN: 978-1-60178-1208
  • Pages: 267
  • Price: 11.99
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Book Review

Taking Hold of God
Edited by Joel R. Beeke and Brian G. Najapfour
Reformation Heritage Books
267, £11.99
ISBN: 978-1-60178-1208
Star Rating: 5

I would describe this book as being probably the best book on prayer for a generation. It is both challenging and encouraging, laying out in detail the many aspect of prayer, carrying with it suitable application for all believers.

It includes a detailed discussion on the Lord’s Prayer and how we should utilise its richness. Perhaps the most important part of the book is its discussion of the work of the Holy Spirit in prayer (there is a whole chapter on the Puritan understanding of His work in us and for us, regarding prayer). Quoting John Owen, the book states, ‘The Holy Spirit gives the soul of the believer a delight in God as the object of prayer.’ I am left wondering if we still hold prayer in such high esteem, and truly delight in God’s presence? It brings to mind the kind of fellowship that the Lord offers to us in Rev 3:20.

There is a rich mine of information from such men as John Calvin, John Knox, Mathew Henry (a particularly helpful chapter), William Perkins, Thomas Boston, Jonathan Edwards, as well as many others. The book is easy to read, and is well laid out. The editing by Joel Beeke and Brian Najapfour is excellent, and the way they combine the many Puritan quotes, thoughts, and statements, with helpful linking words of their own is masterful. It remains faithfully a book about Puritan prayer and does not become their description of it. If you read this book carefully, prayerfully, and with an open heart to God, this book will make a difference to your prayer life. If you follow its instruction your prayer life cannot help but be improved. Its strength is that the majority of it was written by men who lived in a time where the liberating power of the bible was being widely experienced in our nation. Some of the men whose work is referred to were also men who suffered for their faith under later persecution. This is not a book written about men who had a casual relationship with God, rather, theirs was both vital and at times dangerous.

As you would expect, Mathew Henry lays out a pattern of prayer that revolves around the Bible pattern of David, Nehemiah, and Daniel: morning, noon and night; but he then adds that for him, prayer was seven times a day not just three! He maintains that everything we do including our daily work, our entertaining, our friendships, and all other aspects of our life should be a matter of both prayer and thanksgiving.  He says ‘We must wait on God everyday – we must wait on God all day.’ This sentiment not often heard in the compartmentalising mentality of today.

This book deserves to be on the desk of every Christian. It is easy to read and should be referred to often. If its message is heeded it will change lives, churches, and, as history demonstrates, even nations. It is a book that I would heartily recommend as a ‘must have’ if you are serious about engaging with God in prayer.

 

Tony Bickley

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