The Prayers of Jesus

The Prayers of Jesus: listening to and learning from our Saviour
Mark Jones
Crossway, 2019

First up, if you’re expecting a book to help you in your prayer life, this isn’t necessarily it. Of course, studying the prayers of Jesus should help your prayer life, but that’s not the direction in which Jones applies this. It’s more seeing what theology we can learn from Jesus’ prayers. Like Jones’s other books, it’s not exactly lay-person friendly (the chapters are short but dense). He acknowledges himself that the introduction isn’t the most accessible – but actually I think large parts of it would be beyond the average person in the pew.

Even for the more theologically-informed reader, the book is hit and miss – the quality of the chapters varies quite significantly. Jones also spends over half the book (14 chapters) going through Jesus’ prayer in John 17. This is the middle section of the book, and where I feel it loses its way a bit.

There are plenty of gems throughout it. For someone who likes to get the digs in against exclusive psalmody, Jones assumes the psalms are about Christ in a way many exclusive psalmists don’t! As usual he is particularly good on children/parenting: ‘in believing households, children must be taught to pray, by faith, as early as possible’ (you’d think that was obvious but sadly people would argue against it!). There are also some great one-liners: while urging believers to say grace, he reminds us ‘Prayers at restaurants do not need to be re-enactments of Daniel 9’.

Overall, as a fan of the other books by Jones that I’ve read, I was a bit disappointed. It will be a handy resource to have for preaching eg on the sayings on the cross. In short, this book is a great idea, the execution is just a little lacking.

Thanks to Crossway for a complimentary copy of this book through their Beyond the Page review programme.

The Lord’s Supper as the Sign and Meal of the New Covenant

The Lord’s Supper as the Sign and Meal of the New Covenant
Guy Waters
Crossway, 2019

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I’m a huge fan of Guy Waters’s How Jesus Runs the Church. I’ve also met him, and he’s a lovely guy. So I was looking forward to reading this book, but for some reason or another I found it a bit of a struggle to finish. Maybe it’s because I wasn’t particularly looking for a book on the Lord’s Supper at the moment – though even if I was, it takes until 85 pages in to a 117 page book before he begins talking specifically about communion. That’s not a criticism – if it started with communion it wouldn’t be a very good biblical theology – I simply mean that it’s not Communion for Dummies.

The strength of the early part of the book is him setting out the context of the covenant of works and the covenant of grace – and he’s particularly helpful on the former: ‘Christ, the second Adam, has blazed a trail to that tree [of life] for us by his obedience and death’. Without going into the issue, it’s also leaves the average Scottish and Irish Presbyterian something to ponder on communion frequency: ‘Because the Supper is designed to strengthen and nourish believers in grace, it is administered frequently’ [‘frequently’ of course simply taken straight from the Westminster Standards].

In a context where the biggest issue for some seems to be on the externals of how communion is administered, this book is a refreshing reminder of the true significance of the Lord’s Supper in the context of the Bible.

Thanks to Crossway for a complimentary copy of this book through their Beyond the Page review programme.

Great start to a book

“Many Christians perceive that we live in what the prophet Zechariah called “the day of small things” (Zech 4:10). In reality, we also live in a day of great things since Christ has come and poured out his Spirit on his church. Christians today experience far greater advantages than the Jews who lived before Christ’s birth.”

Ryan McGraw, How do preaching and corporate prayer work together? (Grand Rapids, 2014)

(The booklet is adapted from this sermon and part of it features as the Reformation 21 article: ‘Everyone Plays a Part in Preaching’)

David & Shona Murray on Burnout & Depression

Helpful 5-part radio interview series. Shona’s perspective as a medical doctor (who herself suffered from depression) gives it a unique angle.

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They each wrote books on the subject a couple of years ago – you can read my review of David’s here.

Looking back on it, one of his hypothetical scenarios sounds hauntingly unhypothetical: “Seth attends a church where important doctrines are ‘only postscripts to lengthy tirades about what’s wrong with people, the church, and the world. He has little or no sense of God’s love or of being God’s child… His children dread family devotions…’”