A Prayer Journey with the Apostle Paul. Sixty Devotions
By Michael Green with Elspeth Taylor
Reviewed by Dr. James Rosscup
16.1 (Spring 2005) : 159-160
Pastors could use this light survey to help young believers grow. Green sees Paul as saturated with much prayer, praying to a God who is creator, revealing His will, coming in Christ, saving, indwelling, judging, and rewarding. Such themes receive surface treatment.
The writing is more of Green’s feather tip attempt to keep readers with him than an in-depth treatment of Paul’s prayers. Sometimes Green reads prayer into verses, as in the page and a half on Acts 9:1-2, which actually deals with Saul persecuting believers (17-18). At many points prayer is present, as in Acts 9:3-5. The author uses Saul’s words, “Who are you, Lord?” as a springboard to focus on Paul’s later teaching about access to God after being justified (Rom 5:1) (19).
Green does write in fascinating readability on such verses as Saul’s early evidence of new life in praying when God led Ananias to him (Acts 9:10-11). He also makes a good point about God strengthening His people when some pray (32), and about prayer when the Lord released prisoners from the Philippian jail (33). Supplying more substance on a passage would often be more helpful, i.e., more of the Word and less of Green’s writing artistry. On Paul’s “thorn in the flesh” (2 Cor 12:9), the book has a mere half line on what the thorn was (37-38), i.e., “almost certainly a physical ailment,” with no supporting evidence.
Sometimes the writer ceases jumping around from text to text and gives discussions of consecutive verses. Such surveys furnish more help. Examples are Phil 1:1-11 (73-90), Col 1:3-14 (97-110), Eph 1:1-23 (115-32), Eph 3:6-7 and 14-21 (135-44). A devotional on Phil 4:6-7 quotes the verses, then says nothing to expound what they mean, only giving about a page on being specific in praying for peace of mind (the verses do not teach prayer “for” peace) and on God’s interest in all facets of Christians’ lives (55-56). The comment on heartfelt praise after citing Eph 1:3 (67) is a goo d catalyst for believers.
A book such as Donald A. Carson’s work on Paul’s prayers, A Call to Spiritual Reformation, offers much more substance, yet in a writing style just as readable. Green’s writing is so elemental that it is bound to encourage people young in the faith, who need things light and quick. It will frustrate many others who expect more but do not find it. It does accomplish one of the author’s aims, to “encourage us to pray!” (12). It does that at times, but often is disappointing, and cannot be recommended for any but new converts. Even for new converts Carson’s work provides more on Paul’s passages about prayer to stimulate solid growth on their level.