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Taking Hold of God Paperback – 1 May 2011

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Product details

  • Paperback: 267 pages
  • Publisher: Reformation Heritage Books (1 May 2011)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1601781202
  • ISBN-13: 978-1601781208
  • Product Dimensions: 1.9 x 14 x 21 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 5.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (1 customer review)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 428,091 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Product Description

A book about prayer. Six moderns cholars explore the writings and prayer lives of several Reformers and Puritans. Believers who have a desire to pray effectively will profit from this book.

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By Victor Czerwinski on 23 Nov. 2014
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
An excellent book !
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Amazon.com: 9 reviews
7 of 7 people found the following review helpful
Toward Prayerful Praying... 12 April 2011
By Kevin M. Fiske - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Paperback
"Prayerful praying." Far from a mere redundancy, it is what Joel Beeke and Brian Najapfour hope to encourage within the body of Christ through the rich prayer lives of the Reformers and the Puritans in, "Taking Hold of God: Reformed and Puritan Perspectives on Prayer" (Reformation Heritage Books, 2011). "Taking Hold of God" compiles some of the richest theological meditations on prayer from Luther, Calvin, Edwards, Knox, Henry, and other "giants of the faith" within the Reformed and Puritan traditions. Beeke, Najapfour, and others have sifted through the weighty primary sources to leave the reader with the pure gold and potent perspectives of these men for which "prayer was a priority." Beeke notes:

"These giants of church history dwarf us in true prayer. Is that because they were more educated, were less distracted by cares and duties, or lived in more pious times? No; undoubtedly, what most separates them from us in is that prayer was their priority; they devoted considerable time and energy to it. They were prayerful men who knew how to take hold of God in prayer (Isa. 64:7) [p. 224]."

Focusing in on the theologies of prayer among 9 influential Purtians and Reformers (along with the aforementioned, also include: Perkins, Burgess, Bunyan, Boston), together with some additional men along the way, Beeke and Najapfour aim to guide the reader in allowing this treasure of theology, practice, and experience to make our prayer lives "more informed, more extensive, more fervent, and more effectual" (p. xiii). I would say that they accomplish their task quite well. With the amount of rich theology and testimony in each of the essays on prayer, it would be a book the reader would do well to read not just once.

Additionally, "Taking Hold of God" aims to develop a robust theology of prayer as it addresses how other theological aspects relate to and inform one's prayer life and experience. My favorite bits included Beeke's chapters on Calvin (Prayer as Communion with God), Matthew Henry (a Practical Method of Daily Prayer), and Thomas Boston (Praying to Our Father), and Prayerful Praying Today. Also, Peter Beck's chapter on Jonathan Edwards (Prayer and the Triune God) proved to be edifying and informative as well.

Particularly worth noting within these chapters was Calvin's perspective on the purpose of prayer in light of the sovereignty of God. Calvin taught that prayer was "not primarily instituted for God, but rather for man. Prayer is a means given to man so that he might, by faith, "reach those riches which are laid up for us with the Heavenly Father" (p. 29). Calvin's theology of prayer was such that, "Prayer is a way in which believers seek and receive what God has determined to do for them from eternity" (p. 30).

Furthermore, I found Matthew Henry's remarks on prayer and the importance, practice and purpose of family worship to be convicting and encouraging. "[Henry] considered family worship as a time for the whole family to come to God in prayer, seeking His blessing, thanking Him for His mercies, and bringing Him fractures in our relationships so He might heal them" (p. 148).

Henry also favored format in daily prayer. Though a Christian can occasionally be caught up with the greatness of God in such a way that methods may hinder, those times are likely quite rare. Utilizing the Westminster Directory for Public Worship (1645) Henry outlined effective ways to keep prayer focused and substantive so as to "not be `rash with our mouth; and let not our heart be hasty to utter any thing before God;' but let every word be well weighed, because `God is in heaven, and we are upon the earth,' Eccl. 5:2" (p. 154). Beeke includes one such helpful outline from Henry on adoration within our prayers.

As well, within Beeke's chapter on Thomas Boston, Boston's theology of prayer in light of the doctrine of adoption and the Trinity was immensely heartening and enlightening. Boston taught that, "adoption is the foundation of prayer, and prayer is the fruition of adoption" (p. 161, emphasis mine). Moreover, in light of Boston's theology of prayer/adoption, "Prayer is not just a privilege of adoption; it is a sign of the adoption, for it is the fruit of the Spirit of adoption" (p. 168).

All together, "Taking Hold of God" demonstrates that what seems to have characterized the prayer of these men, and the others within the book, was their focus and dependence upon God's Word to shape, sustain, and give substance to their prayers to the glory and enjoyment of God. Beeke fittingly concludes with a chapter aimed at helping the reader practically move in the direction of the Puritans and Reformers so that we, by God's grace, may achieve a life of "prayerful praying" that "clings with one hand to heaven's footstool and with the other to Calvary's cross, stirring itself "to take hold" of God (Isa. 64:7)."

I wholeheartedly commend this book!

*The publisher, at no charge, for the purpose of review, provided a copy of this book. I was under no obligation to write a favorable review.
1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
Good book on prayer 19 Feb. 2013
By Al - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Paperback
This was a very interesting and edifying book on prayer that presented how various reformers and Puritans viewed prayer. Each chapter is a stand-alone essay, and I thought the best chapters were the ones on Calvin, Anthony Burgess, John Bunyan, Thomas Boston and Jonathan Edwards. The last chapter, Prayerful Praying Today, was also very good as a call for praying “…with an intense desire of the soul.”
As I progressed through the book, I was struck by how arid current church prayer is, as well as how arid my own can be. Burgess said that, “Most prayers are like the utterances of an ape rather than a human”, because we don’t pay attention to what we pray for, the words we use, why we pray, and to whom we direct our prayers. Burgess also points out that, “To pray is such a solemn worship of God, that it requires the whole man…” Christ has given us the perfect model for prayer, requiring us to pray with frequency, filial fear, faith and fervor. The chapter on Bunyan emphasizes the Holy Spirit’s assistance in our prayer. His definition of prayer makes this clear: “Prayer is a sincere, sensible, affectionate pouring out of the heart or soul to God through Christ, in the strength and assistance of the Holy Spirit…” This chapter also details how Bunyan’s work “I Will Pray with the Spirit” was part of a Puritan rediscovery of the Holy Spirit as being present and vital for all Christian activity. Thomas Boston also emphasizes the “heart work” that must go in to prayer. He points out that we often pray with an unfit spirit, weighed down by worldly cares, or that our hearts wander and we are more concerned about our own interests, rather than the honor of God. Edwards reminds us that prayer is more than a duty; it’s a privilege and evidence of true faith.
1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
More than Puritans 16 July 2012
By DocTheology - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Paperback
When a lot of Christians today hear the word "Puritan" is seems to be an automatic turn-off. Synonyms like ancient, strict, straight-laced, long-winded, and more are used to summarize these great saints. Joel Beeke and a team of authors have taken some of the great Reformers and Puritans and examined their prayer life. When I read the Reformation chapter of John Calvin, I knew this book was a winner, but the Puritan Thomas Boston's chapter put this book over the top. There are other great books on Prayer (Matthew Henry's book on Prayer methods, for example) but this book is unmatched in getting the reader to examine three hearts-(1) the heart of the Reformer/Puritan and his desire to commune with God is a most intimate way; (2) the heart of the reader of this book which examines (with some great questions) why my own prayer life suffers or excels in some main areas, and (3) the heart of God and His absolute delight to join with His Adopted Children (See Boston's chapter on adoptive prayer) and have such a rich and intimate dialogue full of openness and reverence in prayer. I put this book on my "Must Read Again" shelf.
1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
Men Who Made a Difference 22 Nov. 2012
By Charlene L. Rider - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
This book talks about how several men very important to Christianity viewed prayer and practiced prayer in their own lives.
As such it explores many facets of prayer and instructs and challenges Christians in their own prayer lives.

It is the best book on prayer I have ever found.
2 of 3 people found the following review helpful
Meaning of prayer. 12 Jun. 2011
By The Bik - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
Praying is a given in a christen life, but knowing the meaning of prayer is another thing. This book has helped me learn what it means to hold fast to God's word and relied on him through prayer.
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