Reviewed by Barbara Nickles
September 19, 2014
With precise prayer guidelines and a dedication to scholarship, Dunlap shows how to explore life lived through meaningful prayer.
In The Tabernacle: Living in Power through Abiding Prayer, Timothy C. Dunlap offers guidance for finding strength through powerful prayer. An explanation of prayer, the role of the Tabernacle in Christian thought, and, most importantly, how to pray are at the heart of this volume. This book is intended for Christian readers—Dunlap specifies that The Tabernacle is for those born again—and suggests ways to incorporate meaningful worship into their everyday lives. This book’s strengths lie in its passion for prayer and sharing best practices for positive, meaningful worship.
The book opens with an introduction to the origins of prayer and a historical explanation of the Tabernacle’s role in ancient religious life. The original Tabernacle (from tabernāculum, the Latin word for a temporary shelter) was a portable “dwelling place” built according to plans revealed by God to Moses. It was used as a place of worship and, to show their love for God, the Israelites sacrificed animals. Dunlap writes that animal sacrifice was eventually replaced by the sacrifice of Jesus Christ, and also declares that today’s Christians may take comfort in knowing that the Holy Spirit abides within. Dunlap cites various biblical and other religious sources throughout, highlighting his scholarship and not simply unfounded statements.
Dunlap’s dedication to research is considerable. For example, the author refers to biblical, Greek, and Latin texts in his book, and also bemoans the state of contemporary Christian scholarly thought: “In addition to the intellectual loss of wise navigation through difficult waters, we were to suffer spiritually in our prayer lives.” The author has put a lot of scholarship into this book, and the bibliography and notes are a solid testament to that effort. Readers interested in furthering their religious education will find this a useful resource.
The general quality of writing is fine. There are no major errors in syntax or grammar. In some instances Dunlap expresses his passion for the topic in all capital letters, detracting from his otherwise steady narrative voice. The book is organized well and Dunlap clearly meets his goal of exploring life lived through meaningful prayer.
This book’s greatest strength is offering precise prayer guidelines. Bible study groups and those interested in fostering a more powerful dialogue with God will find his instruction useful and practical: “The impact of prayer upon one’s life and subsequently upon the world is without measure.” An addendum offers specific instruction on how to pray in order to get the most out of the experience. The kind of worship described here is best suited to a supplicant calling upon prayer to find one’s inner strength and love for God.