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On Prayer: Conversation with God (Calvin)

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Westminster John Knox Press

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This book collects for the first time John Calvin's teachings on prayer, taken from his 1559 classic the Institutes of the Christian Religion. Calvin scholar John Hesselink puts Calvin's views into context with an introductory essay for the book. A summary and questions for discussion precede each segment of Calvin's text, making this volume ideal for personal and group study.


Table of Contents:

Introduction: John Calvin on Prayer – I. John Hesselink

A Selection of Calvin’s Prayers 

“Prayer, Which Is the Chief Exercise of Faith, and by Which We Daily Receive God’s Benefits” (Institutes 3.20) 

3.20.1-3 The Nature and Value of Prayer 

3.20.4-16 The Rules of Right Prayer 

3.20.17-20 The Intercession of Christ

3.20.28-30 Kinds of Prayer: Private and Public 

3.20.31-33 The Use of Singing, and of the Spoken Language 

3.20.34-43 The Lord’s Prayer: Exposition of the First Three Petitions

3.20.44-47 Exposition of the Last Three Petitions 

3.20.48-49 Concluding Considerations: Adequacy of the Lord’s Prayer, with Freedom to Use Other Words

3.20.50-52 Special Times of Prayer and Undiscouraged Perseverance in It     



John Calvin (1509-1564) was a theological giant of the Protestant Reformation. A contemporary of Martin Luther, he had as much influence over this period of history as his German counterpart. In 1536 he published his famous Institutes of the Christian Religion, which was a systematic presentation of the Protestant position. His writings are still cherished and relevant today.



"In an age of faddish spiritualties there is no surer guide to prayer than John Calvin and no one better able to introduce Calvin's rich understanding of prayer than John Hesselink. this elegant little volume makes available to a wider audience the pastoral warmth and wisdom of Calvin's extensive treatment of prayer in the Institutes of the Christian Religion. An ideal book for pastors to give to their people and for groups to study together. The depth and beauty of Calvin's discussion of prayer never fails to edify and inspire." - Allen C. McSween Jr., Pasotr, Fourth Presbyterian Church, Greenville, South Carolina

"Calvin the reformer was in fact Calvin the pastor, was in fact Calvin the pastor, and (as he saw it) one of his chief tasks was to teach people to pray rightly. Too often this pastoral Calvin is overlooked, and the practical character of his concern for prayer is missed. So it is very helpful orientation to Calvin's understanding of prayer to have this small very practical introduction available. Read and develop a new taste for learning more about prayer!" - Elsie Anne McKee, Archibald Alexander Professor of Reformation Studies and the History of Worship, Princeton Theological Seminary

"That John Calvin's personal faith and public witness is practical and experiential rather than speculative and logical is nowhere better demonstrated than in his exposition of the miracle of prayer. Profoundly aware that God already knows what we need, is not hindered from coming to our aid, and yet desires to hold conversation with us - Calvin provides instruction on prayer that is both a comfort and a challenge." - Charles Partee, P. C. Rossin, Professor of Church History, Pittsburgh Theological Seminary