Puritan Sundays: The Valley of Vision

I don’t usually like to use other people’s prayers to guide my own. At times it can feel superficial and forced. But reading other people’s prayers has given me a window into how other Christians prayed at other times in church history and has deepened my own prayer vocabulary.

The Valley of Vision is a collection of prayers from various Puritan authors, including John Bunyan, Isaac Watts and others. It was first published in 1975 and has become a classic devotional work since then. But if you’re not used to the Puritan way of praying, you may experience a shock when first reading them. First of all, the language is very formal. But there’s also an exceptional emphasis on the holiness of God and personal piety that is quite unlike how we moderns are used to praying. But this is good I think. We all need our prayer lives to be recalibrated from time to time and this collection of Puritan prayers will certainly do that. Reading through the prayers has caused me to worship and pray more deeply and sincerely. Their seriousness about heaven and hell has shaken me loose from my tendency to think only about my own temporal needs. They have encouraged me to meditate more on the glory of God and the beauty of the Savior.

Here is an example of one of the prayers you’ll find in Valley of Vision. I pray it will bless you and lead you into deeper and more meaningful times of meditation and prayer.

The Mediator

Everlasting Creator-Father,

I have destroyed myself, my nature is defiled, the powers of my soul are degraded; I am vile, miserable, strengthless, but my hope is in thee.

If ever I am saved it will be by goodness undeserved and astonishing, not by mercy alone but by abundant mercy, not by grace but by exceeding riches of grace; and such thou hast revealed, promised, exemplified in thoughts of peace, not of evil.

Thou hast devised means to rescue me from sin’s perdition, to restore me to happiness, honour, safety. I bless thee for the everlasting covenant, for the appointment of a Mediator.

I rejoice that he failed not, nor was discouraged, but accomplished the work thou gavest him to do; and said on the cross, ‘It is finished.’

I exult in the thought that thy justice was satisfied, thy truth established, thy law magnified, and a foundation is laid for my hope.

I look to a present and personal interest in Christ and say, surely he has borne my griefs, carried my sorrows, won my peace, healed my soul.

Justified by his blood I am saved by his life, glorying in his cross I bow to his sceptre, having his Spirit I possess his mind.

Lord, grant that my religion may not be occasional and partial, but universal, influential, effective, and may I always continue in thy words as well as they works, so that I may reach my end in peace.

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