Wednesday, February 06, 2008

a diary of private prayer

I used to listen to my grandmother pray these prayers. In fact somehow I've managed to score her copy of this prayer book. John Baillie, A Diary of Private Prayer (London: Oxford University Press, 1936). First published in 1936, it had gone through 23 reprintings by 1960!





It contains Morning and Evening prayers for each of the 31 days of a month. They are designed for private use, rather than public worship. Barby keeps an eye on second hand bookshops and so we have been buying them for years to give away as gifts. A recent windfall enabled us to purchase copies for each of our children and each person in our home group.

Needless to say - they are wonderful. They take me deeper and wider in my prayers. In a self-absorbed world, they keep me God-aligned in my prayers. They keep me thinking about others, particularly those worse off than me. They introduce a language of confession into my life (particularly, in the evening). They open my life to hope and praise (particularly, in the morning). I love the tenderness in so many of them.

Sure, the language is archaic. But then it has always been a mystery to me how people can love the language of a Jane Austen or a William Shakespeare and then stumble around as they engage the words of old hymns and prayers. Sure, there is the odd theological blindspot (for example, he does not have much time for the temporal and the material next to the eternal and the spiritual). But then I find noticing these blindspots in the prayers just helps me ensure that I don't practise them in my life.

Even though interest rates are a problem, I'd still suggest you mortgage your house or sell your car so that you can buy one of these prayer books and use it. I think doing a Message-like expanded and contemporised paraphrase of them is great for the spirituality! In fact I made it an assignment for my class...

But rather than quote the prayer book right here, over the next week or so I am going to use the 'comments' section to record a few of my favourite sections from these prayers - and I invite others who might use the prayer book to do the same.

Let's see where we end up...


nice chatting


Paul

11 comments:

Paul said...

From today - the Seventh Day (Morning)

"O Light that never fades, as the light of the day now streams through these windows and floods this room, so let me open to Thee the windows of my heart, that all my life may be filled by the radiance of Thy presence. Let no corner of my being be unillumined by the light of Thy countenance. Let there be nothing within me to darken the brightness of the day. Let the Spirit of Him whose life was the light of men rule within my heart till eventide. Amen"

Paul said...

From Second Day (Evening):

"O Father in heaven, who didst fashion my limbs to serve Thee and my soul to follow hard after Thee, with sorrow and contrition of heart I acknowledge before Thee the faults and failures of the day that is now past. Too long, O Father, have I tried Thy patience; too often have I betrayed the sacred trust Thou hast given me to keep; yet Thou art still willing that I should come to Thee in lowliness of heart, as now I do, beseeching Thee to drown my transgressions in the sea of Thine own infinite love."

Mark Maffey said...

In reading Seventh Day - (Morning) I am captured by the picture it represents - I don't envy your class assignment to capture the original and re-form a la Peterson seems fraught with challenges. Here is a re-phrase...

God, whose light never diminishes, as the dawn breaks and light streams through these windows and fills this room, let me open to you the windows of my heart, that all my life would be filled with the brightness of your presence. Let no corner of my life be missed by the light of your presence. Let nothing within me block the brightness of the day. Let your Spirit which is light to humankind rule inside my heart until evening.

Paul said...

Good stuff, Mark - straight ot the top of the class

From Thirteenth Day (Morning)

"... When Thou dost knock at my heart's door, let me not keep Thee standing without but welcome Thee with joy and thanksgiving. Let me harbour nothing in my heart that might embarass Thy presence; let me keep no corner of it closed to Thine influence. Do what Thou wilt with me, O God; make of me what Thou wilt, and change me as Thou wilt, and use me as Thou wilt ..."

Mark Maffey said...

As I think of this reading "Thirteenth Day" Morning, Eddie Espinoa's song Change My Heart O God comes flooding into view, Change my heart O God, make it ever true, may I be like you. This captures to me the essence of this reading. The challenge to be transformed, to be renewed, to unlock the dark corners is one that we often struggle with, so this reading is well worth grappling with. Here is a maffinisation (i.e. modernisation) of the words, like any interpretation of any other writers work it is hard to totally capture all of their thoughts but it's a good try.

When you come knocking at my hearts door, may I not keep you waiting, rather welcome you with joy and thanksgiving in my heart. Let me hold nothing in my heart that is embarrassing to your Spirit,instead may every corner be open to its infilling.Opening myself to your will fully, do what you need to do, change my heart O God so that your will can be done.

Paul said...

From today - Twelfth Day (Morning)

"I, a pilgrim of etenrity, stand before Thee, O eternal One. Let me not seek to deaden or destroy the desire for Thee that disturbs my heart. Let me rather yield myself to its constraint and go where it leads me. Make me wise to see all things today under the form of eternity and make me brave to face all the changes in my life which such a vision may entail."

Paul said...

From Twenty-Seventh Day (Morning)

"O Lord my God, who dwellest in pure and blessed serenity beyond the reach of mortal pain, yet lookest down in unspeakable love and tenderness upon the sorrows of earth, give me grace, I beseech Thee, to understand the meaning of such afflictions and disappointments as I myself am called upon to endure. Deliver me from all fretfulness. Give me a stout heart to bear my own burdens. Give me a willing heart to bear the burdens of others. Give me a believing heart to cast all my burdens upon Thee."

Paul said...

Just one more from me! Yesterday's one is one of my favourites:

From Sixteenth Day (Morning):

"Give me, O God, this day a strong and vivid sense that Thou art by my side. In multitude and solitude, in business and leisure, in my downsitting and in my uprising, may I ever be aware of Thine accompanying presence. By Thy grace, O God, I will go nowhere this day where Thou canst not come, nor court any companionship that would rob me of Thine. By Thy grace I will let no thought enter my heart that might hinder my communion with Thee, nor let any word come from my mouth that is not meant for Thine ear. So shall my courage be firm and my heart be at peace."

Paul said...

... and thanks to my daughter Alyssa for taking the cool photos for this posting :)

Heather said...

Thank you very much for posting the extracts. I'm keen to get my hands on the book, now :-)

--Heather

Christina said...

Thanks Paul
I have been enjoying the prayers you have shared.