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...