The Prayer That Turns the World Upside Downby R. Albert Mohler Jr.
Length: Approximately 5 hours. To read (181 pages)
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Most Christians struggle to find good traction and time for deep fellowship with the Lord. In this work by Dr. R. Albert Mohler we are given a manifesto to use the Lord’s Prayer as a launching pad and example in finding more freedom and power in our daily prayer lives.
Who should read this?
This book is written for all Christians, balancing the big picture with the deep details of our prayer life. Especially those in a rut or looking for more strength behind their daily prayer lives, this book is for you!
What is the answer to a beleaguered prayer life that lacks the passion, and punch that God’s Word calls us too? The Lord’s Prayer in Matthew 6 has been a guide for centuries, even really since the Lord Jesus gave us this teaching at the dawn of the church. Dr. R. Albert Mohler Jr. in his work The Prayer That Turned the World Upside Down we get a fresh perspective on the Lord’s prayer, focusing on a the prayer leading us to revolution in our daily walk with Jesus.
The author begins the book by setting the table of revolution and longing for the coming kingdom through prayer. He begins by showing the importance of prayer in the life of a Christian. He comments here, “But giving up on prayer is not only a sign of evangelical weakness. It is disobedience. Jesus not only taught his disciples to pray- he also commanded us to pray”(xviii).
Dr. Mohler really presents a case here for putting all of ourselves into prayer and avoiding the normal distractions of the modern believer. He quotes the great reformer Martin Luther here, “How much more does prayer need to have the undivided attention of the whole heart alone, if it is to be a good prayer”(xx).
What exactly is prayer? The author gives a working definition here. One of the key points he tells through a personal story. He says, “prayer is difficult. Like anything of great value, prayer takes great effort, tremendous care, and Spirit-filled discipline”(6). He also here compares the ways different strands of belief in Christ have practiced prayer in the past. He focuses on the importance of the Regulative Principle, which takes all practice only from what is prescribed from Scripture.
Prayer gives us the theological convictions we need to understand who we are and more importantly who God is. The author gives us the understanding that prayer is not a matter of creative self-expression, also not an act of therapy, nor are we are also not able to manipulate or persuade an all sovereign, all knowing God through prayer. Lastly, prayer is also not defined here with any form of giving God a news report or coming with any bargaining chips to barter with.
The rest of the book we dig into the actual text from God’s Word that is known as the Lord’s Prayer. The author begins by writing about how our attitude and approach to prayer matters as much as what we say in our prayers. We are seeking regular communion with God over all else in the way we pray. Dr. Mohler comments here, “The real issue is not so much where we pray, but doing so in a way that does not parade your piety in front of others” (31). The authors of the Gospels gives us here the great setup to the actual Lord’s Prayer in reminding why we should pray, how we should pray, and what we should expect from prayer.
Looking at the beginning of the Lord’s Prayer we see the words, “Hallowed be your name.” Dr. Mohler here is driving the point of setting our hearts right as we pray to God our Father. We are to enter with the correct reverence and anticipation of meeting with the One who has created all things. Our prayers should never only center on you and me, but be centered on whom we are praying to.
One other major focus of this section is the idea of “father.” The Father is God who has chosen, redeemed, and adopted those in His family, loving and caring for all of us deeply. Dr. Mohler gives us reality here when he says, “Only by God’s grace and mercy through the atoning work of Christ do we now have the right to stand before the God of all creation and speak the words “Our Father in heaven. (52). We are to be reminded here as we approach God’s throne of who we are speaking to, what he has done for us, and that Jesus himself exalted God at the beginning of His prayer.
The next petition in the Lord’s Prayer from Matthew 6:10 is “your kingdom come.” The author makes a turn here to show how truly revolutionary and radical this prayer is. Dr. Mohler comments here, “The Lord’s prayer is anything but tame” (73). He uses the City of God by Augustine here as an illustration on the anticipation of the kingdom of God coming again. We are called to yearn for the day when we will all be citizens of God’s kingdom in all its beauty and honor. The writer gives past examples from history such as the Garden of Eden in Genesis, and the covenant made with David in 2 Samuel 8 on this topic.
He finishes this section looking at the phrase “Your will be done.” God has revealed to us here the need to have our shaped and molded to be like His. Dr. Mohler comments here, “The reign of Christ is the reign of a true king: one who demands allegiance; one who will disrupt the order of our lives; one who will call us to abandon our own pursuits for the sake of his” (95). What are we praying for? HIS kingdom to come, and YOUR will to be done!
What are three areas the author wants us to see that are vital to know about the Lord’s Prayer? They are daily provisions, the art of confession and repentance, and help in fighting temptation. God has truly designed for us to be fully dependent on Him. We do have daily physical needs, but because of sin we also have great spiritual needs too. Lastly, the author shows us in this chapter that our reliance on Him means we trust him to give us what we truly need. He says, “At times God may not provide for us in the way we think is best. But we will always find that he provides for us according to his infinite love and care” (116).
One of the areas that Dr. Mohler believes we all struggle with when it comes to prayer is confession and repentance. The words used in the Lord’s Prayer here are “forgives us our debts.” The author says here, “We can only rightly pray the Lord’s Prayer when we recognize that we are deeply sinful and only God’s grace in Christ can remedy our souls” (124). He focuses this section on getting the Gospel right and applying that theology to way we approach prayer, especially confessing regularly. Lastly, he shows us some important tips in thinking about how we ask for forgiveness as we expect others to do so for us.
The last major point discussed about the Lord’s Prayer is fighting against temptation with the Lord’s help. Dr. Mohler gives a picture here of the seriousness of sin and how we need to rely on the Lord to fight against this. We also need to pray as a part of this for endurance to fight sin to the end, because the temptation will never leave us. One point stressed here is the anatomy of temptation. It is does not start or come from God, but from our own sinful pride and lust for sin.
We have the power through Jesus Christ to fight against these temptations. Dr. Mohler desires for everyone to use this radical and revolutionary prayer to the benefit of their daily lives following after the Lord Jesus Christ’s example.
The idea and practice of prayer is something that has been elusive and difficult for so many Christians, especially in our current culture climate. This is a very refreshing and new look on the idea of prayer through the lenses of Jesus’ example to us. I plan to pass this one along to many of those that we shepherd at our local church. There have been many commentaries, books, blogs, and prayers shared about the Lord’s Prayer. This work comes with a freshness that both hits at our theological understanding and gives us practical use in our own prayer lives.
One of the greatest strengths of this work is the author Dr. Mohler himself. He is well read and speaks/writes with such great conviction and passion on any topic. One of his greatest strengths is his expository teaching and writing style that puts the focus on the Word of God above all else. God’s Word is our foundation and his use of it throughout this book helps us to understand prayer better. He is characteristically illuminating and pastoral in his sermons and when he writes as is the case here.
Another great aspect of this book is the mix of the theology and practical nature throughout. Dr. Mohler sets the stage for the practical by reminding us the theology behind why and how we should pray. The way we approach the throne of God in humility, expectancy, and vibrancy is shown through every chapter. We must truly known God in relationship and knowledge before we are able to practically see growth in our prayer lives.
One of the great parts of the Lord’s Prayer is that it is naturally very practical in nature. We are truly attempting to put our theology to the test as we practically live it out by prayer. The author really does an exceptional job in providing some great insights in both areas in this book.
With the Lord’s Prayer having such a practical nature providing some great visual illustrations and personal stories can help provide us with added understanding to the topic. Dr. Mohler does exactly that throughout this book. He pulls from childhood, all of his ministry pursuits, and great historical figures to present a great overview of the Lord’s Prayer. His use of Martin Luther in showing us the need to pray and the way we approach the throne of God was particularly helpful to me personally. The story of camping with his father was a very powerful visual picture as well.
The pastoral nature of how Dr. Mohler approached this topic of the Lord’s Prayer enhanced this book very much. Drawing from all of his experience in being a pastor and more importantly training up pastors on a regular basis really gives credence to what he writes here. Dr. John MacArthur says of this book, “His ability to distill complex theology in understandable language is unsurpassed.” That is the definition of writing pastorally!
One of the weaknesses of this book was the size of the sections written on the different aspects of the Lord’s Prayer. Dr. Mohler wrote several longer chapters on the beginning portions of the Lord’s Prayer and smaller chapters on the latter areas. I would have enjoyed a little longer sections on the topics of repentance/confession, and temptation areas of the Lord’s Prayer. It felt that he ran out of space at the end and had to hurry through it a little more than it should have been.
With the practical nature of the Lord’s Prayer it would also have benefited the book to have some personal stories from others in the struggle with prayer, and how the Lord’s Prayer affected their Christian walk. Hearing from Dr. Mohler’s personal experience and ministering was excellent, but I desired to hear more from others and their struggles as well. Possibly from a foreword or allowing a few others to be a part of the work could have helped in this area.
I would highly recommend that all Christians read this book and any work by Dr. Mohler for that matter. You will be challenged and encouraged in your walk with the Lord Jesus.
Paige Patterson says of this book, “For a guide to future fruitfulness, purchase this book. To be a recipient of the benedictions of our God, read and practice this volume.” I echo this commentary on such a great book given to us understand God more, and our reliance on Him further. This was an excellent work that will strengthen many Christians in their prayer life, but more importantly in having true communion with God that is revolutionary and radical for the glory of God alone.
- “We are actually desperate for what no earthly revolution can produce. We long for the kingdom of God and for Jesus King of kings and Lord of lords. We are looking for a kingdom that will never end and a King whose rule is perfect.” (Introduction)
- “These experiences witness the same reality: prayer is difficult. Like anything of great value, prayer takes great effort, tremendous care, and Spirit-filled discipline.” (6)
- “At times God may not provide for us in the way that we think is best. But we will always find that he provides for us according to his infinite love and care. “ (116)
- “But forgiveness is a necessary evidence that we have received forgiveness. If we do not forgive, we will not be forgiven. Hard hearts have no place in the kingdom of God.” (138)