Tuesday, January 13, 2015

My Favorite Prayer Resource

So far this year has started off with a focus on prayer in my life and church. The message I preached Sunday was on prayer from Philippians 1:3-11. Our church began a women’s prayer group that went very well from what I heard. The first book on my reading list is Tim Keller’s book on prayer. And in my personal Bible reading, I have been encouraged by Ezra and Nehemiah’s prayers. It is remarkable how God hears and responds to human words in his sovereign power. 

I wanted to suggest one of my favorite resources for personal prayer. Other than the Bible, the most helpful resource has been The Valley of Vision

This is a collection of Puritan prayers from previous generations. Those who appreciate antiquity and depth in the Christian faith will treasure it; others who are prone to novelty and naiveté may not. The language may take some getting used to, but I believe anyone who sticks with it will have a deeper prayer life. 

Several ingredients make for good prayer: contrition, joy, humility, courage, and faith. The Valley of Vision combines all of these in doctrinally rich prayer that makes us think greater thoughts about God. 

Here is one example of the spiritually rich prayers found in this devotional. It is best read slowly, meditatively, and obviously prayerfully.  

The Deeps
Lord Jesus, give me a deeper repentance, a horror of sin, a dread of its approach. Help me chastely to flee it and jealously to resolve that my heart shall be Thine alone.
Give me a deeper trust, that I may lose myself to find myself in Thee, the ground of my rest, the spring of my being. Give me a deeper knowledge of Thyself as saviour, master, lord, and king. Give me deeper power in private prayer, more sweetness in Thy Word, more steadfast grip on its truth. Give me deeper holiness in speech, thought, action, and let me not seek moral virtue apart from Thee.
Plough deep in me, great Lord, heavenly husbandman, that my being may be a tilled field, the roots of grace spreading far and wide, until Thou alone art seen in me, Thy beauty golden like summer harvest, Thy fruitfulness as autumn plenty.
I have no master but Thee, no law but Thy will, no delight but Thyself, no wealth but that Thou givest, no good but that Thou blessest, no peace but that Thou bestowest. I am nothing but that Thou makest me. I have nothing but that I receive from Thee. I can be nothing but that grace adorns me. Quarry me deep, dear Lord, and then fill me to overflowing with living water.

I came to faith in a culture that taught me pretty shallow prayer, so the Valley of Vision has been a great help to move beyond. I’m not sure how long I’ve been using it. I did find a receipt dating back to April 2011 in it as a bookmark, so I know that I was using it before then. 

My practice is to use the prayers in the book as a framework. I don’t just repeat the words, but think through them and pray accordingly in my own words. If you are looking for a new devotional resource to help in your prayer life, then check this classic out.