Thursday, March 26, 2009

John Baillie's A Diary of Private Prayer

John Baillie, a Scottish theologian, was born on March 26, 1886. I am still learning about his life and ministry, but in the meantime I have been waiting for an opportunity to introduce to you his little book titled A Diary of Private Prayer (1936). It is regarded as a devotional classic and has been a tremendous blessing to me as I have used it over the past year.

Many of you are familiar with The Valley of Vision: A Collection of Puritan Prayers and Devotions which is also an excellent devotional tool. I have turned to Baillie's book far more often for its readability, adaptability to your own praying, and clarity. I have found three or four copies at yard sales and flea markets for very cheap. You can also purchase and inexpensive paperback edition online.

This book is designed to guide the worshiper in developing a regular pattern of offering morning and evening prayers. Here is this morning's prayer:
O Thou to whom I owe the gift of this day's life, give to me also, I beseech Thee, the spirit to use it as I ought. Forbid that I should stain the brightness of the morning with any evil thought or darken the noontide with any shameful deed. Let Thy Holy Spirit breathe into my heart to-day all pure and heavenly desires. Let Thy truth inform my mind. Let Thy justice and righteousness make a throne within me and rule my errant will. Let Christ be formed in me, and let me learn of Him all lowliness of heart, all gentleness of bearing, all modesty of speech, all helpfulness of action, and promptness in the doing of my Father's will.

O Thou who compassest the whole earth with Thy most merciful favour and willest not that any of Thy children should perish, I would call down Thy blessing to-day upon all who are striving towards the making of a better world. I pray, O God, especially--
for all who are working for purer and juster laws:
for all who are working for peace between the nations:
for all who are engaged in healing disease:
for all who are engaged in the relief of poverty:
for all who are engaged in the rescue of the fallen:
for all who are working towards the restoration of the broken unity of the Holy Church:
for all who preach the gospel:
for all who bear witness to Christ in foreign lands.
Cast down, O Lord, all the forces of cruelty and wrong. Defeat all selfish and worldly-minded schemes, and prosper all that is conceived among us in the spirit of Christ and carried out to the honour of His blessed name.
For more biographical information about Baillie, I would direct you to begin with The Baillie Project.