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Valley of Vision (Leather): A Collection of Puritan Prayers and Devotions Leather Bound – March 1, 2003
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Bennett writes that the Puritan Movement was a religious phenomenon of the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries, but its influence continued at least to the time of the great Baptist preacher Charles Haddon Spurgeon (1834–92), who may be regarded as the last of the great Puritans. Bennett composed the first prayer himself. He tells us the authors and books he is quoting – from the works of Thomas Shepard, Thomas Watson, Richard Baxter, John Bunyan, Isaac Watts, William Williams, Philip Doddridge, William Romaine, David Brainerd, Augustus Toplady, Christmas Evans, William Jay, Henry Law and Charles Haddon Spurgeon – but he doesn’t tell us which works or author is associated with each individual prayer.
Bennett’s desire is that the publication of these prayers will help to introduce people of today to the Puritans and their writings. It is a wonderful resource to read in daily devotions, which is how I use it. Bennett states that the book is not intended to be read as a prayer manual. He writes that the soul learns to pray by praying. Thus, the prayers should be used as aspiration units, with the Puritan’s prayers becoming springboards for our own prayers. A final section of the book has been added for occasions of corporate worship.
This is a wonderful resource that I cannot recommend too highly to include as a part of your daily worship.
As you know by now, this is a collection of prayers from various Puritan authors all compiled and arranged into a single, valuable resource for readers to be able to draw upon today. In John chapter 7, it is recorded for us how the Pharisees sent officers to arrest Jesus. Upon returning from their mission empty-handed these officers were asked by the Pharisees why it was that they had not taken Jesus and brought Him to them. Their simple, yet profound answer was that "Never has man spake like this man". They were amazed, astounded, and obviously affected by Jesus' words, and their bosses the Pharisees accused them of having been deceived. I can assure you that if you read the prayers of this book, slowly and deliberately, carefully and thoughtfully, earnestly and sincerely, that you will be like the officers of the Pharisees and find your own self to be amazed, astounded, and deeply affected. People today just do not write the way these Puritans wrote. One of the criticisms I have read about this book is the old, flowery, Puritan language and use of words being out of style and perhaps difficult to understand. May I suggest to you, the potential reader, that the very use of words and phrases of which we are not much accustomed to today could be the primary means by which your attention is powerfully captured, and your mind drawn deeply into the message the writer is conveying in their written prayer, causing you to thereby pick up on the earnestness, piety, and godliness that you will find in them. They are so utterly inspiring; these writers have eloquently penned the thoughts which I have had, or that I want to have, but could never accurately or adequately put into words. I can't think of too many works that have affected me as much as this collection of prayers has done and as a result this book has the prominent place of being on my nightstand, right next to my Bible where it is easily accessible and often read.
Another criticism I have read is that the editor Arthur Bennett did not place the actual Puritan authors name next to each individual prayer, and thereby people are hindered from being able to know who wrote which prayer, and to seek out writings from that author. Let me just submit that I think leaving the individual authors names off of each prayer is fitting for this book and the humble, godly attitude that is conveyed throughout. None of these men would care to be lifted up in the minds of their listeners or readers, but would rather have any glory be given solely to the Subject and Inspiration of their works. The editor gives a list of the men from whom these prayers originated in the Preface and Bibliography found in the front of the book for those interested in following up with more reading of their other works. I would venture to say that most of the Puritan writers, and certainly all listed as authors of the prayers in this book, are without a doubt very worthy of further reading.
Here's a suggestion for you: purchase the less costly paperback edition of this gem and begin to explore the treasures that you will find inside. Once you have determined the usefulness and the value of having this book in your own library, you can then invest in the more durable bonded leather copy to keep forever and graciously pass along your paperback copy to another believer, thereby sharing a very valuable resource in our pursuit of the heart of God. They can then do the same.
As we all press to become more like Christ, this book can and will be used by God to help us in our individual sanctification. I know you will enjoy and profit from having it.