Everyday Prayer with John Calvin by Donald K. McKim: A helpful, but not overly-interesting devotional

Everyday Prayer with John Calvin

Everyday Prayer with John Calvin

by Donald K. McKim

Hardcover, 117 pg.
P&R Publishing, 2019

Read: March 1-8, 2020
Grab a copy from your local indie bookstore!


Let’s get this out of the way at the beginning: I do not like devotionals. Morning and Evening, Our Daily Bread, Ligonier’s Tabletalk…or any number of other daily helps that millions find helpful. They’re too brief, too…I don’t want to say shallow, but introductory, I guess. The instant they get near depth, they have to wrap up because they’re about to get too long for the format. And I understand why, but I just find them frustrating.

Which is just to say that I should never have bought this book. And so you know that my lack of enthusiasm isn’t necessarily a criticism. This was never going to be a book I really liked.

The term devotional shows up nowhere in the blurb, title, anywhere—”Everyday” was the only clue I overlooked (but I thought the term suggested “ordinary,” “regular,” non-pulpit prayer).

Prayer is central to the Christian life, which is why John Calvin spends more time on prayer than on any other topic in his Institutes of the Christian Religion.

Drawing from the Institutes and Calvin’s Old and New Testament commentaries, Donald K. McKim comments on Calvin’s biblical insights on prayer and intersperses his short readings with Calvin’s own prayers. Reflection questions and prayer points help you to meditate on Scripture, understand Calvin’s teaching, and strengthen your own prayer life.

The ninety readings start with a scripture reference, give a paragraph or so of introduction to the topic, a quotation from one of Calvin’s commentaries or the Institutes—the quotation will be a sentence fragment to a paragraph or so—then some application, a reflection question or a particular thing to pray about. There was nothing wrong in the readings, but they….lacked any real depth or insight. I think it could be helpful for some people, or maybe a useful review of some ideas.

These readings are separated by the occasional longer prayer from a commentary. which are just great—the best part of the book.

It’s based on Calvin—there’s good stuff throughout. But you’re better off reading the source material (the section from the Institutes on Prayer alone is better than this book, never mind the helpful things referred to in the commentaries). If you like devotionals, you may find this of some help. At the least, it’s worth a look.


3 Stars

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