“Praying sincerely does not mean that we first attain a certain degree of sincerity and then pray. A sincere person knows and feels his imperfections; he deeply recognizes that his insincerity is not sincere enough. If we needed to become truly sincere in order for God to hear us, nobody would be able to pray. But someone asks, “Is not sincerity a quality that the Holy Spirit must work in my heart before I can truly pray?” We must answer “yes” and “no” to this question: Yes, the Holy Spirit must open our spiritual eyes to see sincerely that we are not sincere enough. But, no, we are never to think of our sincerity as a qualifying factor that earns us a right to God’s attention and answer. This would drag us back into a covenant of works, making us like pagans who think they must bring something in their hands to please their gods in order to be heard” (Developing a Healthy Prayer Life: 31 Meditations on Communing with God, 53).
Note: This also applies to our approach to public worship on Sunday when we don’t feel sincere enough to go to church. It even applies to pastors when they don’t feel sincere enough to preach. Remember, in Christ you are not in a covenant of works but a covenant of grace! (Romans 6:14; Galatians 5:18)
Yesterday I wrote my first review for a book at Amazon. The book is Sacred Bond: Covenant Theology Explored, by Michael G. Brown and Zach Keele. Here is what I wrote:
As a pastor of a church, and a lifelong student of the Bible, I am always looking for books that summarize the message of the Bible well and apply it to everyday life. This book does just that! In the words of Brown and Keele, “covenant is the very fabric of Scripture. It is God’s chosen framework for the Bible.” If you don’t understand what a covenant is and how the word is used in the Bible you will have a hard time understanding the Bible and how God creates and redeems people. In “Sacred Bond: Covenant Theology Explored,” pastors Michael Brown and Zach Keele offer, in my opinion, the best introduction to covenant theology that is out there today. They write as pastors in a way that is fresh, contemporary, practical, and yet is faithful to what the Bible teaches. Even though I went to seminary and have studied this issue quite a bit, I learned a few new things, and especially how to better articulate covenant theology (i.e. the Bible) in a way that people will understand today.
After a very thoughtful and well researched introduction on what a covenant is and why you should care, they walk through the following covenants in each chapter: the covenant of redemption, the covenant of works, the covenant of grace, the covenant of common grace, the Abrahamic covenant, the Mosaic covenant, the Davidic covenant, and the new covenant. In each chapter they have a brief introduction that connects each covenant with things in today’s world (e.g. movies about cataclysmic disasters, J.R.R. Tolkien’s Lord of the Rings, Royal Weddings), then they develop a definition of that covenant (taking into consideration its use in the history of theology), give the Biblical support for the covenant and then conclude each chapter with practical applications for today. I believe that almost anyone would be able to understand each chapter and how comforting and practical each of these covenants are for the Christian life. Furthermore, if you read this book you will better understand the overall message of the Bible and you will be better equipped to share the Christian faith with others. At just 150 pages it took me only about 1-2 weeks to read it. It also has discussion questions at the end of each chapter which are great for personal reflection and/or a small group study or a Sunday school class. I plan to purchase multiple copies for my church and I highly recommend this book to all!