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Answering God: The Psalms as Tools for Prayer
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Answering God: The Psalms as Tools for Prayer

4.26  ·  Rating details ·  606 ratings  ·  71 reviews
Eugene H. Peterson speaks to Christians who realize the necessity for prayer and yearn for it but who find their prayer unconvincing and unsatisfying. Addressing the causes of this dissatisfaction, Answering God offers guidelines for using the Psalms as dynamic tools for prayer.
Paperback, 160 pages
Published April 26th 1991 by HarperOne (first published 1989)
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Mary I thoroughly enjoyed this book. I am currently enrolled in a major Bible study (4 year program) and this is required reading for our next semester. I…moreI thoroughly enjoyed this book. I am currently enrolled in a major Bible study (4 year program) and this is required reading for our next semester. I had no idea that the Psalms were put together in this order for a reason. Very eye-opening. It is a book I would read again. More slowly this time. Lots of underlined passages to study later. (less)

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Bill Martin
Jan 11, 2014 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: theology
This little book is not only one of the best books I have read on the subject of prayer, it is also one of the finest books on Christian spirituality.

Though I have read other books by Peterson, this may be Peterson at his authorial best. With laser-focus, he etches into each chapter the contour of his thesis: that prayer is initiated by God's acting, speaking, revealing and that our prayers are responses, answers in a dialogue that lifts us to the realization of His purpose. The vocabulary of b
Tony Villatoro
May 10, 2016 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: christianity
Get it. Spend time in the psalms, especially in Psalm 1, 2, 4, 5, 18, 137, since they are subjects of some of the chapters. Eugene Peterson helps us see the Text (ch. 1) of the psalms, the Way (ch. 2), Language (ch. 3) and Story (ch. 4) of the psalms, their Rhythm (ch. 5), the way the psalms use Metaphor (ch. 6), the Liturgy (ch. 7), how to view our Enemies (ch. 8), how Memory (ch. 9) plays in them and what the true End (ch. 10) result is for us in the psalms. Get this book and let Peterson teac ...more
May 06, 2017 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: psalms
This is the best book I have ever read on the Psalms. Get it and read it, whoever you are. It will expand your understanding of the psalms with scriptural expertise, but above all it will show you how the psalms are inescapably crucial for becoming a person of prayer.

Peterson's poetic prose may not agree with everyone, but I would recommend this book freely to anyone who asked me about the psalms. I've reread it numerous times in the last year, and will keep doing so.

No other book more helped m
Nov 15, 2018 rated it really liked it
I've always struggled when it comes to the book of Psalms. I've heard many speak of the Psalms as beloved friends and as a place where they go again and again to connect with the Father but they have always seemed distant and difficult to me. I'm determined to change this. This book is a good first step. I've gained insight into the Psalms that is new to me and I'm looking forward to the discipline of praying the Psalms.
Nov 15, 2018 rated it it was amazing
this book is one of the most forming I’ve read. It almost feels vital. I highly recommend this book and the practice which is so patiently and honestly encourages us towards.
Ron Oltmanns
Sep 12, 2014 rated it really liked it
I like all of Eugene's stuff. A Long Obedience in the Same Direction first came out in 1980 and showed how the Songs of Ascent (Psalms 120-134) were relevant for people of faith today. That first edition was really written out of his pastorate in Maryland. Answering God was written on sabbatical in Montana and takes a more elemental approach to how the psalms can be tools for prayer. He gives special attention to Psalms 1-6, 13, 18, 137, 145, and 150. After 130 pages you are sent out to work wit ...more
Jennifer Asp
Jan 19, 2017 rated it it was amazing
Eugene Peterson taught me what prayer is in Answering God: The Psalms as Tools for Prayer. He says, "Prayers are tools, but with this clarification: prayers are not tools for doing or getting, but for being and becoming." This books lays a beautiful foundation to think about the Psalms, and in doing so to think about prayer and the God who has already reached out to us. Language, community, and enemies all take on new meaning now. And praise! "But prayer, a praying life, finally becomes praise. ...more
Thing Two
Feb 20, 2012 rated it liked it
Recommended to Thing Two by: Sunday School
This book was chosen as a Lenten study book for a small group. Peterson, who also compiled The Message defines prayer as a tool not to enable us to do something or get something, but to become something, and like writing a short story where every noun and verb are crucial, Peterson teaches that there should never be an abstract word in our prayers. The nouns should be specific; the verbs should be direct. Everything should be personal, the experience immediate.

Although I was expecting a "lesso
Blake Chenoweth
Feb 10, 2014 rated it really liked it
A wonderful book about prayer, the Psalms, and spiritual growth. If you know me, you probably know I love the Psalms and this book shares all the reasons why. So much honesty and passion wrapped up in the Psalms and their prayers and Eugene shares that in this brief but challenging book. It was a great follow-up book to Hearing God by Dallas Willard because after God speaks this should be our answer to him.

I recommend this book to anybody who wants a renewal of prayer in their life. A wonderful
Michael Goldstein
Jun 06, 2017 rated it it was amazing
"We are not launched into the life of prayer by making ourselves more heavenly, but by immersing ourselves in the earthly: not by formulating abstractions such as goodness, beauty, or even God, but by attending to trees and tree toads, mountains and mosquitoes" (27).

Peterson grounds Psalmic prayer in reality. He gives us a language by which to understand and communicate with God through the Psalms. Moreover, he provides an instruction book for how to use the Psalms as a tool for intimacy with G
Demetrius Rogers
Feb 19, 2013 rated it it was amazing
I cannot say enough good things about this book or author for that matter. Deeply insightful and elegantly stated.
Carole Sparks
Sep 11, 2018 rated it liked it
Recommends it for: students (any age) of the Old Testament, esp. Psalms
"If we wish to develop in the life of faith, to mature in our humanity, and to glorify God with our entire heart, mind, soul, and strength, the Psalms are necessary."

"No matter how much we suffer, no matter our doubts, no matter how angry we get, no matter how many times we have asked in desperation or doubt, "How long?", prayer develops finally into praise. Everything finds its way to the doorstep of praise."

More than anything, Answering God moves prayer from the sacred realm to the ordinary. T
Jul 07, 2018 rated it it was amazing
More than information, this book aims at inspiration – to inspire the reader to take up the schooling of the Psalms for growing in the experience of prayer. Peterson lays out the structures and functions of the Psalter as a whole and in its various parts, helping the reader see what they may expect as they take up the practice of praying the Psalms. He even offers field notes at the end to help illustrate some of what happens when we answer our speaking God, responding to him through the prayer ...more
Jose Vieitez
Jan 27, 2018 rated it liked it
This book started out rocking my view on the Psalms and leading me to reconsider how I pray. I really enjoyed the first half of it.
About half way through, it seemed like the analyses on the psalms ceased. He began to repeatedly dive into deep philosophical monologues where he would present colorful metaphors as he attempted to drive home points that could have been simply stated as-is in a few sentences.

I had to slog through the last few chapters. Maybe I was in the wrong place mentally when I
Kate Meyrick
Jul 23, 2018 rated it it was amazing
Convicting, lyrical, beautiful read. So glad I was required to read it before entering this new season of life. Prayer is primal. Psalms begin with prayer: anger, sorrow, hate, joy. Psalms end in praise: amen, hallelujah. The most convicting part? Reading how dangerous it is to be “alone with God” bc it’s in community that the sin surfaces. It’s easy to hide when you’re alone with him. It’s not when you come face to face with another human while you worship him together.
Tiffany Alley
Sep 22, 2018 rated it it was amazing
“Torah is God’s words that hit the target of the human condition. The noun “torah” comes from the verb “yarah” which means to throw something, like a javelin, so that it hits its mark. The word that hits the mark is torah. God’s word has this aimed, intentional, personal nature. When we are spoken to in this way, piercingly and penetratingly, we are not the same. These words get inside us and work their meaning in us.”
Sue Zelie
Jul 05, 2018 rated it it was amazing
So insightful and helpful to me that this is my second time through it. I feel as if I'm seeing the psalms for the first time, and am appreciating letting their content and timeless words inform my prayers. The older I get, the more frustrated I am by my limited vocabulary of prayer. Learning here from the prayers Jesus himself knew and prayed.
Julianne Wolf
Jul 19, 2017 rated it it was amazing
2nd time I'm reading this book. First time , I was almost done and left it in an airplane so I prayed the person who found it would be blessed. I definitely have been both times by Gods message through the Psalms and Mr Petersen's incredibly beautiful and truthful writing.
Austin Hood
Feb 03, 2018 rated it it was amazing
“Prayers are not tools for doing or getting, but for being and becoming.” An illuminating and beautiful work on the significance of engaging with God through the Psalms, removing ourselves from the self-centered model of prayer and focusing our minds on things above.
Feb 25, 2018 rated it really liked it
Shelves: psalms
This book talks mostly about the effects and results of praying the Psalms, as opposed to the mechanics of the act of praying them. Lots of rich description about and motivation for praying the Psalms!
Aug 15, 2017 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: christianity
How to use the psalms as tools for answering God. I will need to read this again because it is deep. Sometimes I find the author to be a bit arty-farty. Otherwise very good. Now I've got to take it seriously and really pray the psalms, not just read them.
Jul 04, 2018 rated it it was ok
I really struggle to connect with Peterson’s writing. Ironically the chapter titled Liturgy was my favorite. His overall point was good: that by praying the Psalms we will be tutored in a life of prayer.
Matjaz Crnivec
Jul 05, 2018 rated it it was amazing
Amazing, inspiring, insightful guidance into the everyday practice of praying the Psalms.
Nov 30, 2017 rated it really liked it
Shelves: books-of-2017
Excellent book to read and use with groups.
May 21, 2017 rated it it was amazing
I give it 6 stars
Jan 08, 2016 rated it it was amazing
I was excited to read this book, and even more excited when I got it for Christmas, along with several others that I have been wanting to read. I have loved Eugene Peterson's writing for years, especially when it comes to the Psalms. He is a master of the Psalms.

I have long said that it is no accident that the Psalms are in the exact middle of our Bible. Peterson explains how the Psalms were the "prayer book" of the ancient Hebrews, as well as the early Church. In modern-day churches, that pract
Allison P
Feb 28, 2017 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: favorites
Beautiful and thought provoking.
Andres Zelaya
Feb 24, 2017 rated it liked it
Really good. Lots of insights.
Jul 20, 2016 rated it really liked it
I came across "Answering God" when I was preparing to teach a class on the Psalms. Although I finished the book only a few months ago, I can recall almost nothing about the actual content, yet I have a profound feeling of affection and appreciation for the book.

Peterson's argument is simple: Christians should use the Psalms as a guide for their prayers. He states this bluntly in the introduction:

"My work, like Isaac digging again the wells that the Philistines had filled, is to clear the ground
Jan 18, 2015 rated it really liked it
Shelves: prayer
Peterson’s main point is that the Psalms do not tell us who God is, but rather teach us how to respond to God. His chapter on liturgy is particularly helpful. He shows how prayer is foundationally a communal activity. His explanation of the Psalms frees people from allowing their feelings to be the guide of prayer… prayer is much larger than that. His focus on the community aspect of the Psalms is the theologically correct way to approach and understand the Psalter… the Psalms were meant to be r ...more
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Eugene H. Peterson was a pastor, scholar, author, and poet. For many years he was James M. Houston Professor of Spiritual Theology at Regent College in Vancouver, British Columbia. He also served as founding pastor of Christ Our King Presbyterian Church in Bel Air, Maryland. He had written over thirty books, including Gold Medallion Book Award winner The Message: The Bible in Contemporary Language ...more