154 of 158 people found the following review helpful
on August 3, 2002
"The soul learns to pray by praying; for prayer is communion with a transcendent and immanent God who on the ground of his nature and attributes calls forth all the powers of the redeemed soul in acts of total adoration and dedication." (Preface)
The Puritans recognized that prayer and doctrine are not to be separated. In their prayers they kept the two together. In fact it was their doctrinal understanding, which indeed produced such deep, and lasting prayers. Theology instilled a thorough passion for prayer. Likewise it is prayer, which sinks us deeper into the mysteries of God's self-disclosure of himself. It is prayer, which furthers our theology.
It is to this end which we, as Christians must strive. We must search out our Triune God in prayer and devotion as we seek him in his word and through our prayers.
Arthur Bennett has provided the Church a great service by collecting the prayers of the saints. The book is arranged topically under the following headings: 1. Father, Son, and Holy Spirit; 2. Redemption and Reconciliation; 3. Penitence and Deprecation; 4. Needs and Devotions; 5. Holy Aspirations; 6. Approach to God; 7. Gifts of Grace; 8. Service and Ministry; 9. Valediction; 10. A Week's Shared Prayers.
This book is excellent for both private and public devotion. The only disadvantage I found to the book was that each individual prayer was not attributed to its corresponding author. However this is probably a good idea in keeping with the intent of the book. Its intention is as a guide to lead us to prayer when the heart is cold or to further pour fuel on the heart, which is already aflame.
May this be used of the Lord to ignite our hearts in a holy passion toward him. O' Lord teach us to pray!
83 of 85 people found the following review helpful
on March 9, 2004
I can read about three or four prayers before being overwhelmed by the depth and riches of these prayers. They show the depth of knowledge and wisdom of their writers, but even more they show the writers' deep abhorrence of their sin and devotion to God. They also show keen insight into the private sins of our hearts. These prayers are old; I had to frequently consult a dictionary to understand some words that are no longer in common use. I can't help but feel that Christianity in our day is terribly shallow compared to what the Puritans knew.
Each prayer is about one page long, has a brief title given by the book's editor, and is presented anonymously. The prayers are grouped into sections such as "Redemption and Reconciliation," "Holy Aspirations," and "Approach to God." A brief preface is the only background given, all the rest of the book is simply the prayers themselves.
I have only two faults with the book, but neither merit rating it less than five stars. First, the titles of the sections closely describe the main theme of that section, but the titles of the individual prayers do not consistently (in my mind) state the main theme of that prayer. Second, the prayers are not attributed to their authors, and I would very much like to know who wrote each one. However, I will allow that perhaps Arthur Bennett intended for us not to know so we would focus on the Creator rather than the creature.
One other thing to mention is that this is one of the most sturdy, well-published paperback books I have seen. After carrying this book on my commute to work for reading, it has held up much better than other paperbacks. The pages were so thick I often had to check the page numbers to make sure I had not skipped a page.
I highly recommend this book for all Christians for personal study to receive greater conviction of sin, more language to express your devotion to God, and instruction on how to pray fervently.
56 of 58 people found the following review helpful
on April 1, 2000
The Valley of Vision, by Arthur Bennett is a collection of Puritan prayers compiled and listed by topic. With subjects such as the Trinity, penitence and deprecation, approach to God, and Gifts of grace (to name a few), The Valley of Vision gives us insight into the humble piety of the Puritan prayer life. It also shares with us our need for this reverence for God and the importance of true communion with Him through prayer. The first prayer summarizes the purpose of this book with the following words, "Thou hast brought me to the valley of vision, where I live in the depths but see Thee in the heights..." The main theme of the book is to show Christians that we are first brought to the valley in order that we may see above the mountaintops. This book is a must have for every Christian. It can be used as a daily devotional as well as a guide for our own prayers. Deeply moving and overflowing with the reflections of God's immeasurable grace, Valley of Vision will touch every home and press every heart towards a closer walk with the Lord.
47 of 48 people found the following review helpful
on February 24, 2007
This is truly an invaluable collection. With a little less than 200 prayers, I read one almost every morning during the week, and this lasts me roughly the year. Obviously, these prayers fall within the Reformed tradition, which is more than a little important. Other reviewers have covered what remaining points there might be to make about this book, so I'm going to end by including an example to give you a taste of what is within. This is by no means the best of the prayers; it simply fit my fancy at the time I read it:
"The Name of Jesus" (p. 21)
Thou readest the heart,
viewest principles and motives of actions,
seest more defilement in my duties
than I ever saw in any of my sins.
The heavens are not clean in thy sight,
and thou chargest the angels with folly;
I am ready to flee from myself because of my abominations;
Yet thou dost not abhor me
but hast devised means for my return to thee,
and that, by thy Son who died to give me life.
Thine honour is secured and displayed even in my escape from
and that, by means of Jesus
in whom mercy and truth meet together,
and righteousness and peace kiss each other.
In Him the enslaved find redemption,
the guilty pardon,
the unholy renovation;
In Him are everlasting strength for the weak,
unsearchable riches for the needy,
treasures of wisdom and knowledge for the ignorant,
fullness for the empty.
At thy gracious call I hear, take, come, apply, receive his grace,
not only submit to his mercy but acquiesce in it,
not only glory in the cross but in him crucified and slain,
not only joy in forgiveness but in the one through whom
Thy blessings are as secure as they are glorious;
Thou hast provided for my safety and my prosperity,
and hast promised that I shall stand firm and grow stronger.
O Lord God, without the pardon of my sin I cannot rest satisfied
without the renovation of my nature by grace I can never
without the hopes of heaven I can never be at peace.
All this I have in thy Son Jesus; blessed be his name.
32 of 35 people found the following review helpful
on April 1, 2003
Format: Leather Bound
Arthur Bennett's collection of Puritan prayers is phenomenal. These prayers, drawn from the various Puritan fathers, such as Thomas Watson, Richard Baxter, John Bunyan, Isaac Watts, Henry Law, etc., will touch your soul and help you refocus your thoughts on your relationship with God.
May I suggest that you read them slowly. Reflect on the various phrases of the prayers. Allow the prayers to become your prayers to God. And at the same time, allow God to speak to you through these prayers.
The only criticism of "The Valley of Vision" I have (and the primary reason I gave it 4 stars instead of 5) is that Bennett failed to tell who wrote each prayer. Personally, I would have liked to have been able to go to the original sources and read more by the authors.
For those who are looking for modern language prayers, be forewarned that this book retains much of the flavor of the Puritan English.
But even with these minor criticisms, I have to admit I have been touched by the prayers in this book many times. I regularly use this book to help focus my time with God.
If you want a boost in your devotional time with God, "The Valley of Vision" won't be a disappointment.
17 of 17 people found the following review helpful
on June 15, 2006
Format: Leather Bound
This book, along with my Bible, travels with me everywhere I go. I use it many mornings to begin my devotions. These prayers are so God-centered! They make me want to love God. They make me want to hate my sin.
I tried devotionals to help me engage with God in the morning, but they alway seemed so shallow, or so unrelated to actually devoting myself to God, that I gave up. I didn't think that a little prayer book would be exactly what I needed but it was. I give it my highest recommendation.
21 of 22 people found the following review helpful
on February 19, 2006
Format: Leather BoundVerified Purchase
"The Valley of Vision" contains classic first-hand prayers from the great Puritan spiritual writers. Its value is two-fold. Personally, it can strengthen the reader's spiritual life related to one's image of God and one's prayer life. Historically, it can undo the distorted image of the Puritans--they were NOT distant academics who censured others. They were head and heart believers who honored God.
Reviewer: Bob Kellemen, Ph.D., is the author of "Soul Physicians," "Spiritual Friends," "Biblical Psychology," "Martin Luther's Pastoral Counseling," and "Beyond the Suffering: Embracing the Legacy of African American Soul Care and Spiritual Direction."
17 of 17 people found the following review helpful
on September 9, 2010
The Puritans obviously had a connection with the Lord that embarrasses most of us. Every part of their lives revolved around their relationship to Christ. This book of prayers are both inspiring and convicting. Oh, that I would dedicate myself to prayer like this...to God's glory!
18 of 19 people found the following review helpful
on October 1, 2003
Format: Leather Bound
I can think of no other work that I have read that has influenced my prayer life, and the content of my prayers, as much as this gem of a collection that Arthur Bennett has complied and edited from some of the great Purtian divines. I owned the original paperback, and now am very pleased to have this new bonded leather version (complete with ribbon bookmark).
These men of faith prayed Scripturally informed, joyous, repentant prayers that never left any doubt that God was the focus, and that pleasing and praising and enjoying Him was the goal of the prayers. Here is just a small sample:
"O Lover of the Loveless, it is thy will that I should love thee with heart, soul, mind, strength, and my neighbor as myself. But I am not sufficient for these things. There is by nature no pure love in my soul; Every affection in me is turned from thee; I am bound, as slave to lust, I cannot love thee, lovely as thou art, until thou dost set me free. By grace I am thy freeman and would serve thee, for I believe thou art my God in Jesus, and that through him I am redeemed, and my sins forgiven." (pp. 250).
There is a wonderful sense of joy, hope and love, mixed with seriousness, repentance, and faith. I turn to these prayers again and again when my heart is hard, my mind lacks the right words, or when I am tempted. At our church, we often include prayers from this work in our bulletin for folks to meditate on as they prepare for worship. They are also wonderful for 'jump starting' your own personal worship and prayer times with the Lord. Get a copy today - you won't regret it!
21 of 25 people found the following review helpful
If you believe the Puritans were mindless, backward, fundamentalist then you have never read The Valley of Vision. This book illustrates the truth that the Puritans were theologians, passionate about Jesus and His kingdom, and sought God with all their hearts (Jeremiah 29:13).
Arthur Bennett has done a marvelous job of going through thousands of Puritan prayers (the Puritans were noted for writing their prayers in their journals) and giving us a book that has Puritans prayers divided by separate headings. I love to read these prayers as I get ready for bed. The English language is beautiful from the pages of these Puritan saints. I long simply to pray with the hunger and desire that they prayed (Luke 11:1; 18:1; Colossians 4:2).