As I’ve grown older and more distracted in my thinking, I find that written prayers are increasingly important in helping my devotional life. In his book A Call to Spiritual Reformation, Don Carson cites a Puritan saying:
Pray until you pray.
And written prayers help you to start praying, even when you can’t find the words to pray. Sometimes I think that being an Anglican, with all the written liturgy available to me, is a bit of a bonus really. Having said that, my favourite book of prayers is not an authorised Anglican one, although it was written by a canon of St Alban’s Cathedral. The Valley of Vision is a collection of prayers that were put together from a selection of Puritan writings. They are rich and deep and help me to start my prayers with a good focus on the Lord. On New Year’s Day I was reading the prayer for Wednesday morning, and was struck by some lines which applied very directly to my resolutions and plans for 2014:
…Grant us always to know that to walk with Jesus
makes other interests a shadow and a dream.
Keep us from intermittent attention to eternal things;
Save us from the delusion of those
who fail to go far in religion,
who are concerned but not converted,
who have another heart but not a new one,
who have light, zeal, confidence, but not Christ.
Let us judge our Christianity,
not only by our dependence upon Jesus,
but by our love to him,
our conformity to him,
our knowledge of him…