Review: A Diary of Private Prayer

Diary Of Private Prayer (Scribner Classic)Diary Of Private Prayer by John Baillie
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

I loved this little book of prayers by a Scottish theologian from 1949 – morning and evening prayers for 31 days plus a special morning/evening prayer for Sundays. I was taking a class and the teacher often started the class with the morning prayer from this book. So, I decided to get a copy for myself. I found each prayer to be beautiful – but also thoughtful. Modern readers will have to work with the style of writing that employs what we might call “King James Version” language … Thee, Art, Thou, etc. … but in some ways that lends to the beauty of these prayers.

Some of the prayers give space for personalization. One example:

“To Thy care also, O Father, I would commend my friends, beseeching Thee to keep them safe in soul and body, and to be present in their hearts to-night as a Spirit of power and of joy and of restfulness. I pray for … and … and … I pray also for the wider circle of all my associates, my fellow workers, my fellow townsmen and all strangers within our gates; and the great world of men without, to me foreign and unknown, but dear to Thee; through Jesus Christ our common Lord, Amen.”

You get the sense of the language issue I mentioned. But I do like to read the prayers of others, especially when they widen my perspective of prayer. John Baillie’s prayers do that for me.

These prayers are humble, and seek God’s grace and forgiveness. One such prayer expressed the following:

“I confess, O God – that I often let my mind wander down unclean and forbidden ways:
that often I deceive myself as to where my plain dutie lies:
that often, by concealing my real motives, I pretend to be better than I am:
that often my honesty is only a matter of policy:
that often my affection for my friends is only a refined form of caring for myself:
that often my sparring of my enemy is due to nothing more than cowardice:
that often I do good deeds only that they may be seen of men, and shun evil ones only because I fear they may be found out.
O holy One, let the fire of Thy love enter my heart and burn up all this coil of meanness and hypocrisy, and make my heart as the heart of a little child.
Give me grace, O God…”

Curious use of the colon in that writing, but that’s the way it was in the book.

Each prayer is fairly short and you can read them in less than five minutes. But if you savor the thoughts and reflect on your own heart, these prayers can help your prayer time be rich with time spent with the Savior.

I am sure I will spend more time with this little prayer companion.

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