Book Notice: THE PSALMS: A PRIMER FOR PRAYER, by William Barrick

Published on March 24, 2021 by Eugene Ho

Kress Biblical Resources, 2021 | 448 pages

A Brief Book Notice from Books At a Glance

By Fred G. Zaspel


I love the very idea of this book, and now that we have it we might wonder why it took so long for such a book to be written!

The Psalms are prayers (cf. Psalm 72:20), some more explicitly so than others, and as such, they serve as models for us – we are meant to learn from these inspired prayers how we ourselves ought to pray. They serve as a guide, and William Barrick has set out to direct our attention. On each left page, he provides the text of the next psalm, and on the right, he suggests how we might pray accordingly. He also provides cross references to help direct a closer biblical focus and a brief section highlighting how Jesus himself is interceding for us before the Father today.

It’s a wonderful idea and a very helpful, practical resource to aid believers in their devotion. Enthusiastically recommended!

Under the “what I wish he had said” category – authors hate that category! – I might mention two features that perhaps could have been more prominent in the book. First, it might have been helpful if Barrick had given more pointed attention to the various categories of prayer that the Psalms model for us. Recognizing “lament,” for example, with even brief pointers would go a long way toward fostering “better” praying. And the same would be true of the imprecatory psalms, the Messianic or enthronement psalms, and so on.

I might also like to have seen something on the christocentric nature of the Psalms, pointing us more explicitly to pray in light of Christ himself as the subject of the Psalms. Barrick by no means misses this, and perhaps he would wonder why this quibble. And perhaps these quibbles are unfair – the author did not write the book to give instruction but just to model praying. But it seemed to me that some explicit instruction along these lines, even brief, would have been enormously helpful.

Quibbles aside, this is a needed and helpful book, and without doubt, it will prove beneficial to any Christian who puts it to use. I hope it gets wide use. Let us learn to pray from the inspired prayers in the Book!

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Kress Biblical Resources, 2021 | 448 pages

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