A Brief Book Notice from Books At a Glance
It can only be helpful to learn to pray from those who know the Scriptures well and who themselves know the experience of faithful prayer. That is the conviction underlying these two books from Donald McKim. Excellent guides to prayer that will be of spiritual benefit to any Christian.
From the Preface
For some years, I have wanted to write something about the observations of John Calvin (1509–1564) on prayer. I have written and edited other books on Calvin; his theology is deeply rich and has been of key significance to me. So I am especially pleased to introduce, in this book, his insights on this important theological topic.
Prayer is central to the Christian life. In the 1559 edition of Calvin’s major theological work, Institutes of the Christian Religion, the longest chapter is the chapter on prayer. Calvin had much to say about prayer. His theological views were grounded in his interpretation of Scripture and of the many passages in which prayer is mentioned in the Bible. Calvin built on these interpretive or exegetical findings in order to synthesize his thoughts on prayer, which he presented in the Institutes (see 3.20).
My approach in this book is to provide a series of short devotional reflections on quotations from Calvin, which are drawn from the Institutes and from his commentaries on Old and New Testament books. My reflections on Calvin explain what he is saying theologically and point out its importance for our Christian faith and lives today….
This book focuses on quotations from Calvin about prayer in its many aspects. As we hear Calvin’s comments and reflect on them, my hope is that our theological understanding will be deepened and our lives of faith will be impacted and strengthened through our own prayers.
These devotions, plus fifteen prayers that Calvin prayed at the end of various lectures that he gave on biblical passages, introduce us to Calvin’s perspectives—which are based on Scripture—and to what they mean for Christians who pray to God. The devotions here explore different aspects of what prayer meant to Calvin, with some of the themes being reinforced as they emerge through the course of Calvin’s interpretation of many biblical passages. Collectively, the pieces open up Calvin’s thoughts on prayer, which was so vital and central to his own Christian belief and experience….
My hope is that this book will introduce readers to the theology of John Calvin as it emerged from his interpretation of Scripture passages on prayer. Calvin’s views can enhance and deepen our theological understanding as we live our Christian lives and are part of the church and, daily, people of prayer. To God be the glory!
David Hall, Executive Director, Calvin500; Senior Pastor, Midway Presbyterian Church, Powder Springs, Georgia
A helpful and inviting introduction to a better prayer life under the mentoring of the Genevan Reformer, as conveyed by an attentive student. Unlike the many misfocused guidebooks to the landscape of Calvinism, this accessible and faithful work by Donald McKim actually takes us to the heartland of Calvin, spotlighting his piety and depth—and it does so with pithy yet substantive devotionals. Reading this book could well be viewed as learning to pray from one of the masters, and it thankfully includes some of Calvin’s own prayers. How helpful to have Calvin’s own words served as such an appealing feast. With many hours of research compressed into each page, this prayer catalyst will be welcomed not only by Calvinophiles but by all who value prayer.
From the Preface
This book follows Everyday Prayer with John Calvin (P&R, 2019) and Everyday Prayer with the Reformers (P&R, 2020) to express the theology and practice of prayer as understood by sixteenth- and seventeenth-century English Puritans.
Puritans as a whole stood in the Reformed theological tradition of the Protestant Reformers and John Calvin (1509–1564). For them, prayer was a central reality in the Christian life. It is the means by which Christian believers can carry out Paul’s instruction to the Philippians: “by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God” (Phil. 4:6). This book presents quotations from these Puritans and my comments about their meaning and significance for Christian people who today live lives of faith and who pray.
My approach here is to provide a series of short devotional reflections on quotations from Puritan writers. Some prayers from Puritan writers are included as well. An identification of the writers of these quotations and prayers is provided at the end of the book.
As I have mentioned before, my vocational passion for providing books to introduce important theologians through comments on their quotations has grown over the years. My hope is that these books will open the treasures of theologians to those who are not familiar with their writings. The fact that their theological comments can nurture and benefit our Christian lives today shows that their theologies can live in the church and with Christian believers in the present time. Perhaps readers of the devotions will go on to explore more insights from these theologians. I hope so.
Prayer is a prime topic for theological reflection. Christian people pray. They pray in faith and move on toward understandings of prayer, based on Scripture and their experiences. Part of their experiences can be reflection on the nature of prayer as presented by others who have gone ahead in the faith and have provided theological thoughts about prayer….
My hope is that this book will introduce readers to Puritan writers who have significant and meaningful things to say about prayer. These writers can nurture and strengthen our faith as we pray by calling on God and thanking God from whom all blessings flow. May our faith grow and our devotion be deepened, and may we pray, “Hear my prayer, O God; give ear to the words of my mouth” (Ps. 54:2).
Joel R. Beeke, President, Puritan Reformed Theological Seminary
More than a collection of Puritan prayers, this book presents Puritan insights into God-centered, biblical spirituality in order to enrich our prayers. Donald McKim’s brief but profound meditations are very helpful in the cultivation of what the Puritans called “a suitable frame of heart” to speak with our Father in heaven.
Kelly M. Kapic, Professor of Theology, Covenant College
We all know prayer matters, but since we struggle, sometimes we either end up avoiding it or making it overly complicated. In this wonderful little devotional, Donald McKim draws on both his deep knowledge of the Puritans and his deep knowledge of God, offering us not only well-earned wisdom and sensible encouragement on prayer but also gentle questions to make sure we are making connections ourselves. His goal is not merely to teach us more about prayer but to help us actually to pray! McKim does not overwhelm but offers just enough to point us in the right direction and get us started. I hope it encourages you as it did me.
Buy the books
EVERYDAY PRAYER WITH JOHN CALVIN, by Donald K. McKim
EVERYDAY PRAYER WITH THE PURITANS, by Donald K. McKim