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I know the plans I have for you,” says the Lord; “plans for good and not for evil, to give you a future and a hope.”

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Pray

April 18, 2018

There are hundreds of books to read and explore about Christian prayer. Two of them I want to commend to you for this Spring are ones you may never have heard of. 

The Valley of Vision is a treasured of collection of Puritan prayers and devotions. Each one reflects the craft of language so true to the time in which they were penned. And each page is typographically formatted with care and workmanship not often seen any more in our rushed to publication world. The leather-bound edition from banner of Truth is a beauty to hold and read, to pray with and to reflect with. Here are prayers written by fervent believers articulating the longings of their souls fully steeped in Scripture and suffering. Many of these prayers and devotions were written nearly 400 years ago now and yet in praying through the prayers one feels the close kinship we hold with those saints still. There is depth here that comes with the patina of time, humility, and a profound consciousness of The Lord God Almighty as sovereign Ruler of all. Reading through these prayer anchors our souls to the older foundations of Christian faith and steady’s us as we grow in maturity and deeper dependence on our God and King. 

A Diary of Private Prayer is a beautiful older book published in 1949, written by John Baille, Professor of Divinity in the University of Edinburgh, Scotland. My own copy was given to me by a very close friend and it has become one of my most cherished books. I love it for much the same reasons that I also love The Valley of Vision. It is older, from a time before. It uses language rooted in strength, and honesty, and is permeated with the consciousness of God’s holiness and our inherent frailties. For me personally, it reminds me of truth I encountered in AA and it grounds me in a wisdom and posture needful for growth in Christ, surrendered and mindful of need. I love it also because even though it is older, the way it is written could be written for me. It is private, confessional, honest, humble, and true. 

Both books give the praying Christian a sense in some immediate way of those who have come before us, those whose faith became the foundations shaping and supporting our own faith. When spending time in these good works, we get a sense of the “great cloud of witnesses” who are even now praying for us and urging us forward to finish our races.

Lancia E. Smith

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