A Call to Spiritual Reformation Book Review

By | 2018-06-29T10:34:17+00:00 June 29th, 2018|
A Call to Spiritual Reformation Book Review

A Call to Spiritual Reformation

by D. A. Carson
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Book Overview

A Call to Spiritual Reformation was formulated by D. A. Carson in 1990 originally as a series of seven sermons preached in New South Wales. Carson was 44 years old, and his mother had passed away only a few weeks before the series was preached. Though he has been a pastor in his younger days, he has spent the greater part of his career as a seminary professor and is a prolific author.

A Call to Spiritual Reformation Book Review 1

INTRODUCTION

A Call to Spiritual Reformation was formulated by D. A. Carson in 1990 originally as a series of seven sermons preached in New South Wales. Carson was 44 years old, and his mother had passed away only a few weeks before the series was preached. Though he has been a pastor in his younger days, he has spent the greater part of his career as a seminary professor and is a prolific author.

REVIEW

Carson’s stated aim is “to work through several of Paul’s prayers in such a way that we hear God speak to us today, and to find strength and direction to improve our praying, both for God’s glory and for our good.” (10) How he goes about this is done by expositional travel through eight of Paul’s prayers, and taking several asides, handling matters of unique particularity to the discipline of prayer. The book is not to be considered a comprehensive theology of prayer. (9)

From the very first chapter he offers many practical bits of home spun wisdom gleaned from older saints he has known down through his life. This chapter alone is a gem. Some of the struggles or issues he deals forthrightly with in this chapter are mental drift, discipline via prayer-partnerships, using models for prayer, systematizing prayer lists, having balance in our prayers, and public prayer.

The prayers he deals with are certainly cherry-picked for his purposes, but they are among some of Paul’s most beloved calls to God. The prayer Paul makes for the Ephesians as a response to the first 14 verses is absolutely one of the most memorable requests ever made for the saints.

For this reasonI do not cease to give thanks for you, remembering youthat the God of our Lord Jesus Christmay give you the Spirit of wisdom and of revelation in the knowledge of him, having the eyes of your hearts enlightened, that you may know what is the hope to which he has called you, what are the riches of his glorious inheritance in the saints, and what is the immeasurable greatness of his power toward us who believe, according to the working of his great might…” (Eph. 1:15-19) He deals with this passage in the chapter entitled, Praying to the Sovereign God.

In his chapter on 2 Thessalonians 1:1-12 (Worthy Petitions) He writes of the common phrase ‘worthy of his calling’ and says it is more than simply requesting that we be worthy, but “asking that God will so work in their lives, so make them worthy,  that ultimately he will count them worthy.” (54, emphasis added)  

In the chapter titled, A Passion for People he addresses the content of Paul’s prayer in 1 Thessalonians 3. Specifically commenting on verses 9-10, “For what thanksgiving can we return to God for you, for all the joy that we feel for your sake before our God, as we pray most earnestly night and day that we may see you face to face and supply what is lacking in your faith?”

(1 Thes 3:9-10) Carson states, “He does not simply pray that the faith of the Thessalonians might be strengthened, leaving the means unstated; rather he prays that he himself might do it. He is like Isaiah after his vision of the Almighty: “Here I am. Send me!” (Isa. 6:8)” We do need to be reminded to be bullseye specific in our prayers!

For this writer, however, the choicest part of the book was chapter 9, A Sovereign and Personal God. Here Carson wrestles with the philosophical question of whether prayer really changes things and how is it that God’s responses to prayer are not an affront to his sovereign eternality and decreed plans?

After laying the groundwork for the argument we are presented with seven Scriptural examples that demonstrate the sovereignty of our God. Then Carson (and you the reader) wrestle through the philosophical. Let me just tease you with these comments by Carson as he closes the chapter, “God expects to be pleaded with; he expects godly believers to intercede with him…The really wonderful truth is that human beings like Moses and you and me can participate in bringing about God’s purposes through God’s own appointed means.” (164)

CONCLUSION

D.A. Carson has an excellent way of taking the reader through some truly remarkable theological thoughts. He is a logical thinker and such is displayed, in easy to grasp words and phrases, though the concepts he tackles are high and lofty like the God he serves. I believe Carson meets his stated goal and I heartily commend this short volume. It will bless your soul.






About the Author:

David Cox II
Dave's Blog
Dave Cox is a member of Covenant Reformed Baptist Church of Woodstock. He is a graduate of MBI with a B.A. in International Ministries '96. Currently enrolled at Reformed Baptist Seminary working on an M.T.S. He enjoys writing, running and teaching God's Word. He and his wife Julie have 3 adult children.

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