There are scads of commentaries on and opinions about the book of Revelation. While I’m not an expert, I’m not sure how many books there are like this recent tome from Joel Watts. The best word I can use to describe it is “refreshing.”
Author: Joel L. Watts (blog, Twitter)
Title: Praying in God’s Theater: Meditations on the Book of Revelation (amazon.com) [Available in print or Kindle editions]
Praying in God’s Theater (amazon.com) isn’t a commentary. You won’t get into millennialism, supralapsarianism, or other eschatological quandaries and dogfights. You won’t have to answer the question, “Pre-, Post-, or A-?” to get past the first chapter. You won’t get into timelines, you won’t count days/weeks/years. You won’t worry about whether it is John the Apostle, John the Elder, or some other John who wrote it. You won’t get tangled in establishing the date, or with overwrought diatribes on the weirdness of the Greek found in the book, or whether a simple Galilean fisherman could’ve written it.
No, you won’t get any of that stuff. Instead, Praying in God’s Theater (amazon.com) is a practically oriented look at how the book of Revelation can be used in the prayer life of a Christian. You get to follow along with Watts as he treats the text liturgically and prays through the text of Revelation. In the process, the reader’s focus changes from the self-centered look — wanting to know more about the return of Jesus for personal planning and expectation — to a Jesus-focused look. Here’s a snip from the introduction:
Revelation is not about what will happen (futurist) or even what happened (historicist), but what is always happening above us. It is quite simply, a book envisioning Christ enthroned through suffering, something the Eucharist represents. (Watts 3)
Watts’ prayers are intended to be corporate and responsive in nature. But he does a better job of explaining than I would:
Like call and response prayers, you will find portions in bold. The bold sections of Scripture are based on (usually) Revelation, while the words in regular print are the literary sources for John’s writing. John used a tremendous amount of Scriptural allusions drawn from the New Testament and other works while drafting his work. I will make use of many of them to provide an answer to him. I have tried to arrange it so John’s words are met with similar words or thoughts from other writers of the faith. … Surrounding the prayers are mediations and devotions from saints throughout the ages. You will find familiar names like John Wesley and maybe a few unfamiliar ones like St. Bonaventure and a sixth century theologian by the name of Oecumenius. This is an ecumenical book, so you will hear Catholic and Orthodox voices as well as Protestant ones. (Watts 7–8)
The end product is a set of rich prayers focused on the text of Revelation with surrounding material setting the scene based on the testimony of the church through the ages. You’ve seen and read nothing like it on the book of Revelation. If you read it seriously, you’ll be better for it.
[Disclaimer: Joel Watts is my friend. He supplied me with a copy of Praying in God’s Theater (amazon.com), but I have examined it and would like to think I’d write the above about the book whether I knew him or not.]