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The Master's Seminary Journal 19:2 (Fall 2008): 285-87

Review: An Exposition on Prayer in the Bible (5 Vols.)

By Gregory H. Harris, Professor of Bible Exposition.

James E. Rosscup. An Exposition on Prayer: Igniting the Fuel to Flame Our Communication with God. Bellingham, Wash.: Logos Research Systems, 2008. $199.95.

An Exposition on Prayer in the Bible (5 Vols.)Dr. James Rosscup, the original professor of Bible exposition at The Master’s Seminary, has released a voluminous work on prayer as a Libronix (Logos) Bible Software addition. In his introduction the author humbly writes in the opening line, “The writings before the reader are a result of countless hours in the Scriptures since around 1992. And these were outgrowths from former years of meditations in studies and special devotional times.” Virtually anyone (included this reviewer) who has had the privilege of sitting under Dr. Rosscup as a student could have written those opening sentences and more, because they so encapsulate his life and are so evident to those who know him, both colleagues and students. He is a man of God who prays. (Can there be a man of God who does not pray?) Jim Rosscup is a gifted and meticulous scholar with decades of teaching experience; but even beyond this, he is a child of God who never got over the fact that God saved him and who exalts God and His Word both in the classroom and in his life. So in essence this study on prayer is a lifetime work in the making of one who has walked with God and truly learned from the Master. The Christian walk of this reviewer changed forever when he had him as a professor, when he began seminary studies twenty-five years ago.

With no lack of books on prayer, why should there be another one? An Exposition of Prayer differs from other prayer works in substantial ways. In addition to the important attributes of the author listed above (without which the work would not be nearly as good), two things among others set this work apart.First is the breadth of the work. Rosscup’s original intent was to cover every prayer in the Bible, but he notes that only 61 of the 66 biblical books contain prayers. In addition, Psalms was vastly too big to include with the present work. He instead “deliberately chose to write expositions for 21 key, or representative, psalms.” Perhaps the body of Christ will be the beneficiary of further work along the same lines in a second Rosscup volume on prayers in the psalms. In keeping with the current format, it would be a rich and valuable tool to have.

The second distinctive in this prayer work is that it begins with a brief study of each individual book of the Bible, and proceeds to individual prayers in each. In other words, Rosscup studies the Bible books, establishes the setting, audience, and especially the context, and then examines the prayers. Such is vital in a solid, biblical understanding of prayer or any other biblical subject. Many godly individuals who have written on prayer have removed individual verses on prayer and built books and doctrines on them while completely oblivious to whether they are in an OT or NT setting, are in a group or individual, are to the obedient or disobedient. Some take biblical prayers and make straight application to themselves, whether relevant or not. For example, Daniel’s prayer in Daniel 9 has nothing to do with building a church educational building or a new sanctuary. The context deals with Jerusalem, the destruction of God’s temple, and the promised return that Daniel was reading in Jeremiah’s prophecy, which concerned the number of years the nation would be in Babylonian exile. In An Exposition of Prayer, starting with the book of the Bible (such as Daniel) and leading up to the prayers it contains makes the prayers more understandable because they are viewed in light of their context. This is true throughout the entire work.

Others who are familiar with the Libronix system have noted that this work is a perfect match for the Libronix format. An Exposition on Prayer contains literally thousands of biblical cross-references that one can locate by moving the cursor and going directly to the corresponding Scriptures. Just a quick “heads up” for those who will be doing this: it is such a rich study by itself, even without checking every Bible verse noted; so plan to “be there a long time,” and I mean that in the best sense of the words. Though this work is easily usable even when one is hurried, it contains so much valuable and worship-evoking—and at times convicting—information, that the reader will most likely want to come back and study the passage in more detail.

An individual, a pastor, or a group may use An Exposition on Prayer in many ways. With the Libonix Bible Software, once this component is installed, any verse on prayer that one comes across will bring up a link to Rosscup’s book. Second, “the fine wine study” would take a person slowly through a particular book of the Bible—perhaps in a month or two—reading the prayers and related commentary with them. Sometimes Bible software makes it hard to tell what page one is on; many times, the chapter and verse divisions mark the pages instead of a page number. But one could study, for instance, Genesis, as an individual or in a group, and then carefully study each prayer that is there. As mentioned, working through the material from start to finish would take a while, but the trip would be delightful trip. Third, another means of using this work is studying a particular book of the Bible without focusing on the prayers in it (or perhaps even noticing that prayers are there). Once a prayer is noticed, almost a reflexive action will be to see what Dr. Rosscup wrote about that prayer in An Exposition on Prayer. Truly, if studied by one seeking a closer walk with the Lord and desiring to know more about this often mysterious component of the Christian walk, the work will hopefully ignite “the Fuel to Flame Our Communication with God.”

© 2008 Used by permission.