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Prayer (Puritan Paperbacks) Paperback – December 1, 1965
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About the Author
John Bunyan was born in Elstow, near Bedford, in 1628, the son of Thomas Bunyan and Margaret Bentley. He followed his father into the tinker's trade but rebelled against God and 'had but few equals, both for cursing, swearing, lying, and blaspheming the holy name of God'. As a teenager, he joined Cromwell's New Model Army, but continued his rebellious ways. His life was saved on one occasion when a fellow-soldier took his place at the siege of Leicester, and 'as he stood sentinel he was shot in the head with a musket bullet and died'.
Discharged from the army after three years, Bunyan married a God-fearing woman (whose name is unknown) in 1648, who brought two books to the marriage: The Plain Man s Pathway to Heaven (Arthur Dent) and The Practice of Piety (Lewis Bayly). These convicted Bunyan of his sin and he made attempts to reform his life. But he realised that he was lost and without Christ when he came into contact with a group of women whose 'joyous conversation about the new birth and Christ deeply impressed him'. In 1651 the women introduced him to their pastor in Bedford, John Gifford, who was instrumental in leading Bunyan to repentance and faith.
In the following years, Bunyan began publishing books and became established as a reputable Puritan writer, but around this time, his first wife died. He remarried in 1659, a godly young woman named Elizabeth, who was to be a staunch advocate for her husband during his imprisonments for in 1660 Bunyan was arrested for preaching without official permission from King Charles II; he was to spend the next 12½ years in Bedford County Gaol.
Although a time of much suffering, Bunyan's years in prison were productive, for he wrote extensively, with only the Bible and Foxe's Book of Martyrs beside him, publishing such titles as Christian Behaviour, The Holy City and A Defence of the Doctrine of Justification. Of particular significance for his life-story was Grace Abounding to the Chief of Sinners, which chronicled his life up to the time of his imprisonment.
He was eventually released in 1672, and took up his pastorate in Bedford, having been appointed by the congregation the preceding January. After some fruitful years of ministry, in March of 1675 Bunyan was again imprisoned for preaching publicly without a license. It was during this imprisonment that he began the first part of his most famous book, The Pilgrim's Progress, which was to sell more than 100,000 copies in its first ten years in print.
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Given my love for Bunyan and my lifelong pursuit on the topic of prayer, I expected a gem. I found a long and rambling case against the use of books of common prayer. Perhaps I'm being harsh.
It was not altogether bad. There were helpful bits. I found his definition of prayer up front to be the best I have ever heard consolidated. Also, the longer book (the second one which I didn't even know I was getting) had some helpful thinking points related to priesthood and priestliness.
Overall, I wish - I just wish I could give a higher rating...but cannot. He gets 3 solid stars because of some good pieces here and some still returning dividends from his allegories.
John Bunyan is an English Puritan (approx 1650s) most famous for his book ,"Pilgrim's Progress". Unknown to many he also wrote some other books and a book on Prayer is one of them. This is a short book running for about 60 A5 sized pages, give or take, depending on the printing. Although Christianity is strictly speaking a, "mystery" religion, none the less, Puritan writings are more structured with subject matter divided into logical points. Some of these writers exhibit quite ornate sub-structures as well i.e. Thomas Manton. Being a, "Born Again" I have loved reading Puritan writings since I was introduced to them by a Christian friend in my late teens and I'm now retired, so for a long time in human terms.
I think that much of the modern Church would do well to acquaint themselves with these writers as IMO they were some of the most God fearing men to walk the earth and many ended up in an English jail for their efforts. This little book by John Bunyan starts with a wonderful definition of prayer;
"Prayer is a sincere, sensible, affectionate pouring out of the heart or soul to God, through Christ, in the strength and assistance of the Holy Spirit, for such things as God has promised, or according to His Word, for the good of the Church, with submission in faith to the will of God."
Now with such a fantastic definition of Christian Prayer he then goes on in Puritan style (point by point) to explain what he means. One allowance that does need to be made, is that, just as we are victims of our age, so John Bunyan was of his and his expressions are "Olde English" in style.
This is a rewarding read and is a contrast to much of what goes on for prayer in our modern Churches that falls short of this ideal.
If you are interested in the continuum of Church across time to validate current experience with older writings and theological dispositions check out, "Light from the Christian East", I've written a review on that one too.
Suggestion when reading reviews; click on "newest first" to get the more up-to-date reviews.