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Prayer is certainly important part of Jennifer Kennedy Dean. It must be, considering that she is the author of Live a Praying Life (among others) and the Executive Director of The Praying Life Foundation. With this new book, this respected author and speaker is adept at Bible study as well.
In Life Unhindered Dean studies in depth Hebrews 12:1-2:
Therefore, since we are surrounded by such a great cloud of witnesses, let us throw off everything that hinders and the sin that so easily entangles, and let us run with perseverance the race marked out for us. Let us fix our eyes on Jesus, the author and perfecter of our faith, who for the joy set before him endured the cross, scorning its shame, and sat down at the right hand of the throne of God.
Dividing the scripture into its phrasal parts, she develops (as promised by the subtitle) five keys to being set free to live an unhindered life:
- His Platform (focusing on the previous chapter in Hebrews in response to the mention of the “cloud of witnesses” to which the “therefore” refers).
- His Provision – how Christ empowers His followers to rid themselves of entangling sin.
- His Power – the strength that He gives to run the race of Life.
- His Presence – reminding readers that Christ dwells with and in us.
- His Promise – finding the freeing release of the promises that are embodied in the Word of God.
The book itself is an inspiring reminder of how God wants us to live our lives free of the struggle with sin in which all of us find ourselves. Dean takes great care to handle Scripture wisely, and her attention to research is evident in the writing. The book includes the chapter-ending questions for thought that have become so popular in works such as this one, as well as a leader’s guide attached as an appendix in case someone might desire to use this book as a group study. I would suggest that the reader—whether as an individual or as part of a group—keep a copy of the Scriptures handy as Dean takes you on a tour of the Bible in her effort to unify the study.
There is a drawback to this kind of study, though, and one that many preachers often run into in the course of preparing sermons that remain true to the Scripture. And that danger is working overtime to break down the Bible verses being studied. To compound this sin (that sometimes cheapens rather than deepens what we can learn from the Bible), Dean decided to alliterate her points—which is another trap into which preachers fall.
That said, the opening chapters (which focus on the “cloud of witnesses”) may be the most valuable part of the study—and worth the purchase price of the book. I would recommend this study with four out of five reading glasses.