John Carter – October 18, 2019

The Book Response Series is for the purpose of responding to books that I have read. They are meant to be a quick synopsis.

This year I completed my first work by Jonathan Edwards originally entitled An Humble Attempt but edited and revised under the title Praying Together for True Revival. The editing and revision were completed by T. M. Moore. The editing including modernizing the language, adding helpful footnotes, providing chapter introductions, subdividing and adding section titles, and finally including study questions at the end of each chapter. This work is part of a larger series of works called Jonathan Edwards for Today’s Reader. Overall I enjoyed the material presented by Edwards and I was very thankful for the additions made by those involved in presenting Edward’s work in this format.

It was my intention to read a book this year on prayer. Meanwhile, it has also been my intention to begin reading older Christian writers. This work met both of those simple criteria. I am thankful for the time I took to labor over this book. And labor it was. Even though the language was modernized, it was still written by a puritan of puritans in the 1700s. This means thinking very differently about sentence structure, grammar usage, and embracing a dramatic increase in uncommon vocabulary. But the hard work was worth the effort.

I appreciated Edwards effort to insist upon the fervor of revival prayer without neglecting critical biblical exegesis to make his point. The modern charismatic movement has often pushed the idea of praying that precedes revival. But what the modern charismatic movement often lacks is clear biblical theology to support the purpose, motives, and forms of prayer. Edwards would quickly rebuke the childish behavior that makes modern prayer movements that seek a self-centered revival. But similarly, Edwards would lament any notion of dry prayer that lacks the deep affections that the Scriptures calls for. It is clear in the book that Edwards is not calling for a revival that leads only to people coming under the firm conviction of the Holy Spirit. But he is also seeking a revival that emboldens and intensifies God’s people for the work of God that includes obedient-faith and personal holiness. Too often we pray for revival with an eye on the need for change in others, but we seldom consider the call for personal holiness and the need for obedient-faith for ourselves in those prayers. Edwards has no appetite or patience for such silly prayers. Edwards is interested in real and serious revival.

Further, I appreciated Edwards attempt to not only present a compelling argument for praying for revival. He goes further to provide a very thorough defense against possible and actual rebuttals against his original argument. Some of this material is post-script, but it is needed in light of his entire argument.  This very thorough nature of the Edwards’ writing made for difficult moments in the reading, but they still proved to be beneficial.

It would be impossible for me, at this point, to fully affirm every point made by Edwards, but his major argument is nevertheless well proven and well defended. I would encourage every Christian seeking revival and to grow in the discipline of prayer to read this work and to seriously consider the call made by Edwards.

“Thus Christ teaches us that it becomes his disciples to seek this above all other things, and make it the first and last in their prayers, and that every petition should be put up in subordination to the advancement of God’s kingdom and glory in the world.” (p. 72)