Tag: prayer

Tolle Lege: The ESV Prayer Bible

I grew up in an environment opposed to all things liturgical.  There was practically a liturgy developed out of being non-liturgical.  It was like, “Look, we’re so non-liturgical we do this other thing in this order every time we get together at this time instead, just to show how non-liturgical we are.”  Corporate prayers, confessions of faith, and the sacraments were viewed as remnants of Roman Catholicism and thus to be avoided at all costs.  Later in my mid-20’s my husband and I spent 7 years in a small inter-city Reformed Presbyterian Church and my eyes were opened to the value of liturgy through the confessions of faith and the singing of Psalms. The ancient beauty of the Psalter stood in such contrast to the filth and chaos all around us.  When we moved to Hawaii it was really hard to find a doctrinally sound church but the Lord led us to an aging congregation in the first and oldest church in the islands.  In general, the preaching was pretty bad, but at least we knew that the truth of the gospel would be proclaimed each Lord’s Day through the liturgy.  There would be hymns, the Apostles creed, the Lord’s Prayer, the benediction and then the doxology and the Queen’s Prayer sung in Hawaiian.  I learned to love liturgy there because I knew that my kids were learning great doctrinal truths through those repetitious means.  There is just something so Psalm 148:12 about your kids’ young voices joined with the elderly in these historical forms of worship.

But I still had a hang-up about written prayers.  Two things recently changed the way I viewed the value of composed prayers.  The first was in my thirst for understanding the Word of God.  I started praying segments of Psalm 119 each time I sat down to read scripture and then transposing them into the plural form when we’d gather as a group to study.  The second, was in reading the book of Revelation and the corporate worship of the living creatures, the elders,  the angels, and all the saints and wanting my own worship to be in accord with what was already and will be taking place around the throne.  Why are we so willing to sing lyrics written by another in worship but so opposed to repeating words written by another in prayer?  

The ESV Prayer Bible (Crossway, 2018) arrived at my door in the middle of these contemplations.  Here’s how it’s different from other Bibles.  It’s in single column format, which I love, and has prayers inserted throughout which correspond to the text.  These are written by a variety of Christians from the first century all the way into the 20th.  I think the most contemporary was Henry Wotherspoon of Scotland who died in 1930.  There are several index’s in the back including an author index and an index of the 400+ scripture passages that include a corresponding prayer.  My favorite index is a list of every passage of scripture that either is a prayer or references the subject. THAT is a feature I have already put to good use as I explore this topic further.

If you already have a rich and plentiful prayer life this Bible will only enhance that by reading these prayers in a Biblical context.  If, like me, you are wanting to grow your prayer life, this could be an invaluable resource.  The disciples themselves knew their own deficiencies in this area and asked Jesus in Luke 11:1, “Lord, teach us to pray.”  Paul confirms this in Romans 8:26, “We do not know what to pray for as we aught, but the Spirit himself intercedes for us with groaning too deep for words.”  This friends, is NOT given as an excuse not to pray.  Rather it should encourage us to participate more fully through the work of the Spirit in our own hearts teaching us to pray more in accordance with God’s will, just as Jesus modeled for us.  Paul says, “we aught” to know how to pray!  This book contains many examples worthy of our emulation. 

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A final point.  Prayers like the ones included in this Bible are a fantastic tool for training up our children in the faith.  They, like the confessions, creeds, and historical hymns, can be great instructors in right doctrine.  For that reason, I think children can be the greatest benefactors of our liturgies and yet most have sadly been robbed of this instructive form of worship.  I highly recommend this Bible for use in family devotions.  Take an extra minute when you come across a prayer to read the short author’s bio in the back.  It will add a historical continuity to the faith you are instructing your children in.  And while you’re at it, why not throw in a Psalm or hymn or a little catechesis?  

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(Although I was provided with a free copy of this book from the publisher I am under no obligation to write a favorable review)

Tolle Lege: “The Prayers of Jesus” by Mark Jones

My husband and I both lost our mothers within the past couple years.  They were praying women.  And they were daughters of praying women.  Their home-going left an intercessory void in our extended families that I have been struggling to fill.  Mark Jones’s book, “The Prayers of Jesus (Crossway, 2019),” couldn’t have come at a better time.  I picked it up hoping for an exposition on the what, when, and wheres of Jesus’ prayers, a how-to-manual for bowed head and bended knee.  Jones delivered on none of that.  

What he DOES deliver is so much more valuable than a treatise on how or even why we should pray.  This book is all about the who.  Jones invites the reader to view The Prayers of Jesus as a portal into the divine and human nature of our Lord.  It is a deeply Christological confession of the One who made it possible for us TO pray.  If you want to get to know Christ, the man, the Messiah, and the eternal Mediator of a better covenant, what better place to tune your ears than into His most intimate conversations, the Son’s own words to God the Father?

I turned to page one wanting to know how to pray better.  I finished the book loving Christ more for how He made it possible for me to pray at all.  I wanted to know exactly what Jesus prayed about so that I could pray for the same things.  Instead I’m praising God that EVERYTHING Jesus prayed for has and will be eternally fulfilled through His own person and for His own glory!  I came to this book with a long list of people to pray for and left in utter gratitude that Jesus, the perfect High Priest is interceding for me, now and forever!  

This last theme runs throughout the book but Jones does an especially beautiful job in chapter 13 fleshing out the details of Christ’s intercessory work on our behalf.  He gets a little help from a few other theologians (D.A. Carson and John Owen among them), in this section worth quoting here.  Referring to the two aspects of Christ’s priesthood, sacrifice and intercession, Stephen Charnock said, “The oblation provides the intercession, and the intercession could not be without the oblation (115).”  These two aspects are joined together in Thomas Manton’s comparison with the Old Testament high priest’s yearly entrance into the Holy of Holy’s bearing the names of the 12 tribes of Israel upon himself. “So Christ is entered on behalf of us all, bearing the particular memorial of every saint graven on his heart (116).”  Jones continues, “In heaven, our Lord applies the benefits of his life and death to the church that he purchased with his blood (116).” 

In John 17:9-10 Jesus prays for all those who bring him glory. After describing what the marks of those whom Christ prays for will be, Jones makes this observation:

“Christ possesses a natural glory as very God of very God.   He also possesses a peculiar glory as the God-man, the visible image of the invisible God.  But besides those two glories, he possesses a third glory:  the glory that comes to him from his bride.  This depends not upon us (part of his creation), in the final analysis.  The glory certainly comes to him through us because he prayed for us to bring glory to him (117)… God the Father, God the Son, and God the Holy Spirit —all one God—will make sure that the church glorifies Christ (118).”

Wow!  If I am Christ’s it is only to bring Him glory.  And if I bring Him glory it is only because Christ’s sacrifice and intercession make it possible.  I am Christ’s and He is glorified in me BECAUSE He prayed and continues to pray that it will be so!

Jones concludes with these words and I will as well,

“The King of glory prayed on his way to glory, where he ever lives to pray for the saints.   We can be so thankful for the prayer life of Jesus.  There is no hope without it, but every hope because of it (203).”

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Even though I was provided with a free copy of this book from the publisher, I am not required to write a favorable review.

Friday Factoid Week 20

First, another star-studded moonlit photo by Titus, this time of our place.

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The boys have been watching with fascination the various countries this blog is visited by during the week.  At last count, WordPress had tracked hits to Godmadeknown from 90 different countries!  (If we added in the hits on our older sites wingedwisdom and fullmanger there would be well over 100 countries!)  If you’ve never clicked on our page “Under the Same Sky,” check it out so you can read the list yourself, and even more importantly, so you can join us in praying for the gospel to go forth to each and every place.  On that page I mention the book “Operation World” which lists every nation on earth alphabetically and gives a missions report for them all.  This is the book we use to pray for the countries that have visited our blog and it has been hugely eye-opening for us.  Even more than that it’s been heart-opening.  Would you join us in prayer for these nations?  Just check tomorrow’s post of our weekly scripture readings and at the bottom will be a list of the 3 or 4 countries that we’ll be praying for this next week.