Open and Unafraid | Book Review


Life is complicated, so we need to learn to pray complicatedly. The Book of Psalms helps us do that because it touches on all the conditions of life — high, low and in-between. As Denise Dombkowski Hopkins writes, “A journey through the Psalms is a journey of the life of faith.”

David O. Taylor’s Open and Unafraid is a guidebook for that journey. Neither an introduction to nor a commentary on the Psalter, it focuses on “the formative power of the psalms, for both individual and communities.” It does this by exploring many of Psalms’ recurring themes.

The first, honesty, sets the tone for those that follow. “What the psalms offer us is a powerful aid to un-hide,” Taylor writes: “to stand honestly before God without fear, to face one another vulnerably without shame, and to encounter life in the world without any of the secrets that would demean and distort our humanity.”

Psalms’ honesty shows up in its prayers about sadness, anger and joy. When the psalmists imprecate their enemies and demand justice, when they worry about death and hope for life, when they consider the nations or reflect on Creation, they model how we can do the same.

Most importantly, when read through the eyes of Christian faith, Psalms points us to Jesus. “The psalms teach us how to pray as Jesus himself prayed,” Taylor explains. But also, “to pray with Jesus in the psalms is to pray with the one who embodies our prayers.” Psalms is both Jesus’ prayer book, we might say, and a prayer book about Jesus.

For centuries, the Church recognized this and used the Psalter as its own prayer book. Many Christian traditions continue to do so. Unfortunately, American evangelicals and Pentecostals have not adopted this practice, perhaps due to concerns about rote prayers, questions about Christian use of the Old Testament, or worries that some laments and all imprecations are inappropriate on believers’ lips.

Open and Unafraid shows both why such concerns are misplaced and how Christians can make use of the Psalter today. Indeed, according to the New Testament, praying the Psalms is a Pentecostal activity. Ephesians 5:18–19 tells us to “be filled with the Spirit, speaking to one another with psalms, hymns, and songs from the Spirit.”

May the Spirit who inspired Psalms inspire us to pray its prayers!

Book Reviewed
David O. Taylor, Open and Unafraid: The Psalms as a Guide to Life (Nashville, TN: Nelson Books, 2020).

P.S. If you like my review, please click “Helpful” on my Amazon review page.

P.P.S. This short review appears in the May-June 2020 issue of Influence magazine and is posted here with permission.

Praying through All the Seasons of Life | Influence Podcast


The Book of Psalms is the prayer book of the Church. It shows Christians all the ways to pray through all the seasons of life, the good and the bad, the high and the low. No wonder the New Testament quotes it more than any other Old Testament book!

In this episode of the Influence Podcast, Dr. George O. Wood–aka, Dad–explains how to read the Book of Psalms for preaching and pastoral ministry. Dr. Wood is chairman of the World Assemblies of God Fellowship, former general superintendent of the Assemblies of God (USA), and author of A Psalm in Your Heart.

P.S. This episode of the Influence Podcast is cross-posted from InfluenceMagazine.com with permission.

‘Believing God for a Prophetically Relevant Church’ by Doug Clay


201304_098_Prophet_art In the fall 2013 issue of Enrichment, Doug Clay writes:

Prophetic relevance does not mean reciting a litany of passages from Minor Prophets in the Old Testament about God’s judgment on people. It does not mean getting in the face of others with a bullhorn to your mouth and a placard in your hand. It does not mean standing on the steps in a sports stadium shouting “Repent or die!”

No, the practical way to have a prophetic voice in a secular culture when the world’s values are not the same is learning the art and practicing the science of demonstrating courtesy, expressing sympathy, and speaking honestly.

Sometimes our mere presence can make a deep and lasting impression. Job’s friends did the right thing the first 7 days after he went through his series of horrific events. They just stayed with him and wept. They said nothing (Job 2:12,13).

Before we try to change culture by passing out tracts to strangers or conducting mass evangelism rallies, perhaps a better method is to develop a relationship with one or two people. Before we start railing on them about their advocacy of cultural issues that are not aligned with our values, we should show them courtesy, express sympathy and speak honestly — and thus earn the right to present the gospel to them.

Read the whole thing here.

Create a free website or blog at WordPress.com.

Up ↑

%d bloggers like this: