When God’s children pray, we talk to a God familiar with the requests, praise, and longings of generations of his people. We have much to learn from those who went before us. In this devotional, Donald McKim takes us back to the wisdom of over twenty Protestant Reformers—including John Calvin, Martin Luther, and Philip Melanchthon. As McKim draws from the insightful writings and prayers of the Reformers of yesteryear, he provides brief, meditative readings, along with reflection questions and prayer points, to nourish our prayer lives today.
McKim here aims to provide
… a series of short devotional reflections on quotations from Protestant Reformers that are drawn from a variety of sources.
To fulfill his aim, he begins with the prayer of Zwingli at the opening of the Prophezei (more on this in a moment) and naturally that decision sets the tone for the whole. Entering into the act of study necessitates prayer. Indeed, entering into a new day also necessitates prayer. Navigating life necessitates prayer. Prayer is necessitated by existence. And so McKim opens the door to various Reformers and their studies or libraries and lets us sit with them or kneel with them as they perform the most essential daily act- the act of prayer.
And what better way to begin, as suggested above, than to say, with Zwingli,
Almighty, eternal and merciful God, whose Word is a lamp unto our feet and a light unto our path, open and illuminate our minds, that we may purely and perfectly understand your Word and that our lives may be conformed to what we have rightly understood, that in nothing we may be displeasing to your majesty, through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.
Making use of Scripture and brief devotional observations, McKim interweaves appropriate citations from the leaders of the Church and offers those of us who pray a little guidebook and aid to deepen our own devotional practices.
Each devotion begins with a passage from Scripture and this, which should be read first of all, introduces the remarks of McKim which follow. At the conclusion of each devotional a question is posed and readers/ users are invited into the dialogue between Scripture and theologian.
Following is a sample-
Why Do We Need to Pray?
A direct and most precious promise about prayer comes from Psalm 50: “Call on me in the day of trouble; I will deliver you, and you shall glorify me” (v. 15). This is a promise for all seasons. We may need to pray to God because we are facing a “day of trouble.” When we do, the promise “I will deliver you” is given. Then, our need is to pray to express our deepest thanksgiving for what God has done in delivering and helping us. We shall “glorify” God by giving gratitude to our deliverer! This is captured by the Heidelberg Catechism. It asks, “Why is prayer necessary for Christians?” The answer is “Because it is the chief part of the thankfulness which God requires of us.”
While we need to pray to seek God’s help, we also—especially— need to pray to express our most profound thanks for the help we receive. We glorify God with our praise and thanks. We also glorify God by what we do to live out our gratitude in commitment and service to the One who delivers and saves us.
This response of thanks is a primary mark of a Christian, according to the Reformers. We are supremely people of thankfulness. We are those who live in the grip of gratitude to the God who gives us salvation in Jesus Christ, who died for us. We cannot help but pray in praise to our God!
Prayer Point: Pray and request help for the “troubles” of your life. Pray also in deep thankfulness and praise for God’s help in delivering you.
This little book is a treasure trove of devotional helpfulness. Not only does each devotion bring readers nearer to the goal of godliness, each citation from the various Reformers which intersperse the little work bind us to our theological heritage and remind us that we are members of a ‘great cloud of witnesses’ who are – because of that – neither alone nor abandoned.
Take, for instance, this prayer of Melanchthon-
I give thanks to Thee, Almighty God, for revealing thyself to me, for sending thy Son Jesus Christ, that he might become a sacrifice, that through him I might be forgiven and receive eternal life. I give thanks to Thee, O God, for making me a recipient of thy great favor through the Gospel and the Sacraments, and for preserving thy Word and thy Holy Church. O that I might truly declare thy goodness and blessings! Inflame me, I earnestly beseech Thee, with thy Holy Spirit that thanksgiving may shine forth in my life. . . . Enlighten my heart, I beseech Thee, that I may be more fully aware of thy favor toward me and forever worship Thee with true thanksgiving. — Philip Melanchthon
The body of Christ transcends time and space. By means of texts such as these and biblical citations and helpful devotional observations and probing questions, we are engrafted more firmly into that body.
Professor McKim is to be thanked for his wonderful work and his cogent spirituality. All persons, whatever their theological persuasion, will find value in this volume, but the Reformed especially will be especially encouraged.