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Book review: The Seven Prayers of Jesus

Nikolaus Satelmajer

 

Laszlo Gallusz is a pastor and senior lecturer in New Testament studies at the Belgrade Theological Seminary, a Seventh-day Adventist institution in Serbia. An experienced pastor and biblical scholar, he has written this book for fellow pastors. This is not a devotional book, though readers will experience personal blessings. This volume is for those who preach and teach the Word of God. Readers who wish to pursue additional studies on the topic will find the footnotes and bibliography helpful.

Before focusing on the seven prayers of Jesus, the author provides a helpful introduction and two general chapters. The first chapter, “Prayer in the Life of Jesus,” focuses on Jesus’ attitude toward prayer, the practice of prayer, and instructions for prayer. It ends with the assurance that, indeed, Jesus listens to our prayers. The second introductory chapter, “Abba: Experiencing Intimacy With God,” is a helpful discussion of the theme announced by the chapter title.

The following seven chapters constitute the core of the book: “The Lord’s Prayer,” “The Prayer of Thanksgiving,” “The Prayer at the Resurrection of Lazarus,” “The Prayer Answered by a Heavenly Voice,” “The Farewell Prayer,” “The Prayer in Gethsemane,” and “Praying on the Cross.”

In each chapter, the author provides insightful information about the prayer and a textual analysis of it. I found the chapter “The Farewell Prayer” to be especially helpful. The prayer is not a sad farewell, according to the author, though no doubt the disciples did not want to see Jesus leave. Jesus “is preparing to return to the Father, but he also bears a burden for the future of the work he has begun” (104). In this prayer Jesus points out that unity is critical, though, Gallusz writes, “unity is not an end in itself, but a necessary prerequisite for effective witness” (105).

Gallusz ends the chapter with a powerful statement on the transformational power of unity: “Unity of heart and mind comes from God, and human will cannot manufacture it. It comes as a result of the transformed hearts of human beings. John 17 reflects the depth of this transformation which Jesus believed his followers would experience. By sharing in the spiritual bond that transcends any form of human unity, believers experience the reality of God as King in their lives” (110).

Congregations would do well to reflect on this paragraph or, better yet, repeat this paragraph aloud during each worship. This is a transformational statement.

Do you want to do a series of sermons or midweek studies about the prayers of Jesus? In his endorsement comment, Laurence A. Turner, principal lecturer emeritus in Old Testament (a respected scholar and preacher) at Newbold College in England, writes “This book will enrich the intellect and nurture the spirit of all those who read it” (cover). I concur—and believe those who read it will agree.

—Reviewed by Nikolaus Satelmajer, DMin, STM, former editor of Ministry and current consultant and discipleship coach for Trans-European Division of Seventh-day Adventists. He resides in Silver Spring, Maryland, United States.

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