RELEASE DATE: DECEMBER 31, 2009
There are undoubtedly quite a few books on prayer. And admittedly, this is not a topic about which I usually run to read an entire book. However, I came across Before God through the endorsements of a few artists I highly respect and felt compelled to find out what made this book worth their mentioning it.
Before God: The Biblical Doctrine of Prayer is a full-fledged study on prayer. Sarkissian essentially looks at prayer from every possible angle, examining what the Bible has to say on the matter and exposing some of the false views some may possess. He acts more as a facilitator and mediator between the information and the reader rather than a scholar who regurgitates his own interpretation of the topic. This makes for a thorough, well-researched book that helped me feel confident in utilizing as a resource.
One of the great things about this book is the way each section is broken down, leaving no rock unturned. For example, there is a section on the Lord’s Prayer which examines each petition of Jesus’ template. There is another section on the manner of prayer that discusses various forms and formats of prayer such as the raising of hands, bowing of heads, closing of eyes, praying in public and praying privately. It was interesting to be shown examples of each in the Scriptures and see how there is no one way to pray.
Another aspect of Before God I really enjoyed was the many commentaries and quotes Sarkissian uses from the Puritans and other historical Christian leaders. These perspectives seemed to add practical insight into a seemingly mystical practice and even introduced me to some theologians I had never heard of that now interest me.
Despite the somewhat systematic approach to examining the doctrine of prayer, Before God is written in a very readable and easy-to-understand format. There is not a lot of “scholarly language” and most theological terms are explained in such a way that a person completely unfamiliar with the language could understand what is being conveyed.
This book is a great resource for small groups or anyone wanting to gain a deeper understanding of the doctrine of prayer. I imagine that Mike Sarkissian’s prayer (pun intended) is that his readers’ deeper understanding of prayer will lead to a deeper, more intimate practice of prayer rather than just an abundance of “knowledge.”