Millar, J. Gary. Calling on the Name of the Lord: A Biblical Theology of Prayer. Downers Grove: InterVarsity Press, 2016. 264 pp. $24.00. Purchase at Amazon or on Kindle for less than $15.
This volume, the thirty-eighth in the New Studies in Biblical Theology series looks specifically at a biblical theology of prayer.
Divided into nine chapters and an afterward over 250 pages, Dr. Millar offers a canonical study on the prayers in the Bible. Beginning with Genesis 4:26, “At that time people began to call upon the name of the Lord” he looks at when prayer began and then explains the foundation for prayer as noted in the Pentateuch.
Next, he looks at the prayers in the history of Israel and the prophets. Of course, these two chapters comprise the largest section of the book. He then looks at the prayers for the new covenant in books like Ezra, Nehemiah, and Chronicles as he continues through more of a chronological timeline in the Old Testament.
Before moving into the New Testament, he explains the importance of prayer as found in the Psalms and how the psalter contributes greatly to a biblical understanding of prayer.
The New Testament looks at Jesus’s prayers as found in the gospels, prayer in the book of Acts and Paul’s prayers as a church planter. He finally concludes with a look at the writer of Hebrews, James, Peter, Jude, and John and how their prayers comprise the end of prayer.
As one who has studied prayer quite a bit (and always feels a burden to pray more!!!), I found this book to be very enlightening. It is not necessarily a “how-to” pray book. Rather, it offers a theological foundation for why we should pray.
Rooted in Genesis 4:25, Millar offers an in depth, though still an introductory look, at the importance of prayer being a “calling upon the name of the Lord.” Christ changes our focus of prayer such that we no longer necessarily call upon the name of the Lord. Instead, we pray in Jesus’ name.
In the end, he offers a number of ways in which we can, and should, recalibrate our prayer life as we understand a deeper theology of who God is. I appreciate his frankness throughout the book letting the reader know that prayer is the hardest thing you will do if it is done correctly.
Many books abound on how we should pray and why we should pray. There are few books that offer a deep, yet accessible, theology of prayer. Dr. Millar has written a book that every Christian would do well to include in their library as an invaluable resource. More than that, every Christian would do even better if they read Calling Upon the Name of the Lord. If you apply the theological foundation to your understanding of prayer, your prayer life is bound to increase and be enriched like never before.
I highly recommend this resource.