"ESV Prayer Bible" by Crossway. A Review
My rating: 5 of 5 stars
Once when I was on the razors edge of adolescence, my father explained to me that one of the reasons he couldn't become Roman Catholic is because they used "canned prayers." Like canned meat (which we ate on occasion), canned prayers were pre-packaged prayers by someone else and didn't come from the heart (so he said). Since those years he has passed on, and I have gone further down the pilgrim way. And since that father-son talk I have come to find that "canned prayers" can be a great aid, especially in seasons when I am stumbling my way through a dry and weary land where there is no water. Crossway has compiled a brand new, handy sized, single-column edition of the English Standard Version, the "ESV Prayer Bible," that is peppered with four hundred prayers from men and women throughout the ages.
The prayers are not on every page, but show up in places that fit particular Scripture selections and break up the passage. The way you know you have moved from the Bible to a prayer is that (1) the 9.25-point font of the sacred text changes to 7.5-point font for the prayer; and (2) a Scripture reference tags the prayer. Throughout the Old Testament there is a greater distance between where the prayers show up, than in the New. For example, the fourteen chapter prophet, Zechariah, has only three invocations interjected, whereas the six chapter epistle, Ephesians, has six supplications.
The prayers are drawn from 54 disciples across the ages. There's Clement of Rome in the first Century all the way to Richard Brooke in the early twentieth Century. Not only are the ages crisscrossed, but also sex, region, and ecclesiology: men and women; Constantinople, South Africa, North Africa, Europe; Congregationalists, Lutherans, Reformed, Catholic, Baptist, Anglican, Wesleyan; clerics, mystics and lay people.
The "ESV Prayer Bible" is introduced by Donald Whitney, who explains why praying the Scriptures is so valuable. As Whitney notes, instead of being stumped by making petitions about the same old things, "when we pray, we ought to pray the Bible. When we pray, instead of trying to think of new things to say to God every day about the same things, we can speak to him about what we read, verse by verse, in the Bible" (viii). His introduction follows the thoughts of his book "Praying the Bible." At the tale-end are some helpful tools peculiar to this prayer Bible. In one section, each person from whom the prayers are culled is given a brief bibliography, and where their prayers pop up. The next section is an index showing which passages of holy writ are tied to a particular entreaty. Finally, there is an index that locates every prayer, or references to prayer, in the Bible.
The "ESV Prayer Bible" is a devotional treasure trove. The text is clear; the prayers are easy to spot and use. This edition of Scripture would make a super graduation gift, and a nice accessory to your own library. I highly recommend this volume.
My thanks to Crossway for sending me a copy of this Bible at my request. They put no stipulations on me other than that I do a review. My remarks are mine and freely given. You can obtain a copy at: https://www.crossway.org/bibles/esv-prayer-bible-case-2/
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