Category Archives: Bible reading

Answered Prayers Guaranteed

Yesterday at prayer meeting, James recommended the book: Matthew Henry’s A Way to Pray (also called A Method for Prayer) It’s a great book, so I asked Andrew to write a review of it. Here it is:

It’s your quiet time. You sit down. You shut your eyes. And… you begin to pray. Now what?

Prayer can be a daunting task. There are infinite things to pray for and there are countless different words to use. So how do we do it? How does God want us to pray?

At prayer meeting last night Simon showed how Exodus 34:6-7 is repeated throughout Scripture in people’s prayers. God’s people used Scripture as their prayer (almost word for word!). And here is the key for us – our prayers should be soaked in Scripture. We should use the words of Scripture as our prayers. Scripture itself tells us what we should pray for and the words we should use. 

God wants the words he has spoken to us to be spoken back to Him. 

And this is a wonderful thing to do because as we use Scripture more in our prayers, the more we will pray in line with God’s will. Our will will match God’s will. Is not what is revealed in Scripture God’s will? Absolutely! So surely if we make that will our will, those words our words, God’s words our prayers… well, then, he will answer them. God does what he wills. Of course, this will always be in God’s timing and providence but, nevertheless, that is the way we should pray.

Now the Bible is a big book. It is a mammoth task to memorise all Scripture and be able to turn them into prayers. If only someone had done that for us… well they have! Matthew Henry, a godly minister 300 years ago, did just this. A Method for Prayer is a book in which Henry has compiled lots of prayers about different topics (praise, confession, thanksgiving etc) and all of them are based on verses of Scripture. They are deeply rich, soaked in Scripture and well crafted. Personally, I have found it has changed my prayer life. Not only has it given me direction in what to pray for but also the very words on my lips have been gradually aligning to the words of the Bible.

I recommend this book to pray through just once a day. Read one prayer to yourself. Reflect on it and then pray those words to God. Over time, the language you use will be transformed and your prayers and desires will be become more in line with God’s will.

So, don’t let prayer be daunting. God has told us what to say.

A hardback edition can be found here

Or an online version here: http://www.matthewhenry.org/

Help me read my Bible

Philip asked [the Ethiopian eunuch]… ‘Do you understand what you are reading?’

And he said, ‘How can I unless someone guides me?’  (Acts 8:30-31)

Every Christian I know finds it challenging to read the Bible at times. One of the biggest challenges for many Christians is simply not understanding what the passage of Scripture they’re reading is about and how it relates to them. Now, God knows we won’t be able to read the Bible on our own, and he’s never intended us to try; that’s why he’s given us two guides to help us read our Bibles:

  1. The first guide is the Holy Spirit (John 16:13). Jesus promises that “the Spirit of truth… will guide you into all the truth”. The Holy Spirit is essential for reading our Bibles properly. Without him we will get hopelessly lost, trying to understand Scripture. That’s why it’s so important to pray as we read our Bibles; we need the Holy Spirit to inwardly reveal its meaning to us.
  2. The second guide God gives is teachers, like Philip in Acts 8:31 or the “shepherds and teachers” in Eph 4:11. The Spirit guides us inwardly; these teachers guide us outwardly. Like the Holy Spirit, they are very important for reading our Bibles properly. These two guides work together. The Spirit doesn’t guide us to a different meaning to that of the teachers. God doesn’t intend us to just pick one of them as guides; but to use them both.

One very practical way to access the guidance of teachers is to pick up a commentary. These are books written by teachers explaining the meaning of the Bible. There are many commentaries to choose from on both the whole Bible, and individual books. Some are very technical and quote Hebrew and Greek, some are much simpler. Here are some I would recommend which aren’t too difficult.

– Here is a one commentary for each book of the Bible

https://www.thegoodbook.co.uk/bible-study/the-commentary-list/commentary/

– the Banner of Truth Let’s Study series

https://banneroftruth.org/uk/store/series/lets-study/

– Welwyn Commentary Series:

http://epbooks.org/product-category/welwyn-commentary-series-wcs/

Commentaries on the whole Bible:

– IVP New Bible Commentary – https://www.amazon.co.uk/New-Bible-Commentary-21st-Century/dp/085110648X/ref=sr_1_1?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1525787400&sr=1-1&keywords=ivp+bible+commentary

– Matthew Henry’s Commentary. This is an old one; you can find it online. It’s not so strong at explaining the meaning of the passage, but is very good with application.

I haven’t read each commentary listed, so I can’t guarantee it will be really helpful, but they’re all written by people who take the Bible seriously. I’d particularly recommend commentaries by Derek Thomas, Sinclair Ferguson, Dale Ralph Davis, John Stott, and Dick Lucas.

Why not buy one to help you read your Bible?