Talking to God: What the Bible Teaches About Prayer. By Thomas L. Constable. Grand Rapids: Baker Books, 1995. 190 pages. Paper, $11.99.
Talking to God is not just another motivational book on prayer. It is a biblical theology of prayer that is the culmination of 20 years of teaching at Dallas Theological Seminary as well as a doctoral dissertation on the subject.
Constable discusses the different kinds of prayer in the Bible and their particular uses in the time period in which they were found. In the chapter on NT prayer, the author points out several important new characteristics including early Christians addressing the Lord Jesus Christ in prayer as well as God the Father (Acts 2:21, 36; 7:59; 9:5, 4, 21, 29; 22:16); the role of the indwelling ministry of the Holy Spirit in providing guidance and assistance in prayer, and the fact that prayers were for spiritual rather than physical blessings.
Among the theological problems discussed are: human freedom and prayer, God’s immutability and asking, Divine omniscience and prayer, and God’s sovereignty and prayer. Constable does an excellent job of pointing out that God does not force people against their will to do things, but simply removes distractions that otherwise might prevent them from hearing the message and responding to the work of the Holy Spirit in their lives. God can answer prayer without compromising His immutability since He remains the same in His being. Even though God knows all things, it facilitates fellowship and communication when we share things with God. He argues convincingly that even though there are certain things that cannot be altered by prayer (e.g., God told Jeremiah to stop praying for the people because He was going to judge them, Jer 7:16; 11:14; 14:11), some of God’s foreordained actions are not fixed from the perspective of time (e.g., when Moses prayed, God postponed His judgment, Exod 32:14).
Practical problems discussed focused on improper actions and attitudes that can lead to unanswered prayer.
This is an excellent book. I highly recommend it.
R. Michael Duffy