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Knocking on Heaven’s Door: A New Testament Theology of Petitionary Prayer

ISBN: 9781493420391

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How are we to understand the nature of petitionary prayer? This is an issue of perennial concern to the church, from both a theological and a pastoral standpoint. Certainly much has been written on the topic from a devotional/experiential approach as well as from a philosophical one. But Knocking on Heaven’s Door by David Crump is the first attempt to examine exhaustively the New Testament writings that have a bearing on the topic.

Two extreme views on petitionary prayer are often promulgated in the churches. The first states that God will grant any request as long as the petitioner has enough faith and/or persistence. The second acknowledges that sometimes God does not answer prayers and resignedly concludes that prayer is really for our sake and has no impact on God’s actions. Using careful exegesis, Crump first critiques these views and then examines all the relevant New Testament texts in order to construct a cohesive theology of prayer that is faithful to the teachings of Jesus and the early church. Consideration is also given to the relationship between divine sovereignty and prayer. The quality of writing and the topical relevance make this an ideal text for courses in pastoral theology.

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Key Features

  • Explores the theological and practical questions of petitionary prayer
  • Focuses on the relevant New Testament passages
  • Examines related themes of faithfulness, persistence, and sovereignty


  • All Things Are Possible for Those Who Believe
  • I Believe, Help My Unbelief
  • Persistent Prayer
  • Patient Prayer
  • Theological Reflections on Prayer in the Synoptic Gospels
  • Praying to the Son’s Father
  • God’s Will and Our Wishes
  • Our Wishes and God’s Will
  • Theological Reflections on the Lord’s Prayer
  • Asking in Jesus’s Name
  • The Early Church at Prayer
  • The Impossibility of Petition and Prayers of the Spirit
  • Petitionary Prayer in the Life of Paul
  • Paul the Intercessor
  • Theological Reflections on Pauline Prayer
  • Asking Ethically
  • Petition, the Hiddenness of God, and the Theology of the Cross

Top Highlights

“Prayer comprises the interface between human frailty and divine power” (Page 14)

“Jesus does, however, appear to place two conditions on God’s answers to such prayers: faith and forgiveness.” (Page 33)

“First, I confess that my theological preferences tend toward the Reformed end of the spectrum” (Page 17)

“silently accusing themselves as unfaithful failures lacking either stamina or faith or both” (Page 15)

“chapters 1–2 examine the New Testament passages that highlight the pivotal role of faith” (Page 16)

Praise for the Print Edition

Too often books on prayer offer practical advice but are almost entirely devoid of sound exegesis, or they demonstrate sound scholarship but make no attempt to connect to everyday life. David Crump does a splendid job of bridging the gap between exegesis and application in this stimulating book on petitionary prayer. One does not need to agree with all of Crump’s conclusions to benefit from his careful study of the biblical text, his attention to biblical theology, and his theological synthesis that speaks to our contemporary situation.

—Thomas R. Schreiner, James Buchanan Harrison Professor of New Testament, Southern Baptist Theological Seminary

Crump’s insightful book makes an important contribution to our understanding of prayer in the New Testament. . . . This book blends careful exegesis with theological synthesis and integrates prayer within God's saving purposes for his people.

—Peter T. O’Brien, Bulletin for Biblical Research

This is not just another book about prayer. David Crump has achieved a very satisfying blend of exegetical analysis and theological reflection in a volume that provides insightful and, at times, challenging perspective on the tough questions. His presentation of the biblical teaching on prayer is very helpful and needs to be heard.

—Clinton E. Arnold, professor and chairman, department of New Testament, Talbot School of Theology

Product Details

  • Title: Knocking on Heaven’s Door: A New Testament Theology of Petitionary Prayer
  • Author: David Crump
  • Publisher: Baker
  • Publication Date: 2006
  • Pages: 345
  • Resource Type: Biblical Theology
  • Topic: Prayer

Robert W. Wall is professor of religion at Calvin College in Grand Rapids, Michigan, and the author of Jesus the Intercessor: Prayer and Christology in Luke-Acts and Knocking on Heaven’s Door: A New Testament Theology of Petitionary Prayer.

Sample Pages from the Print Edition


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