This book is different from all of the other books that I have reviewed. If you love music, poetry, prayers or anything lyrically beautiful then chances are you will enjoy this book. It is a collection of Puritan prayers and devotions and a wonderful tool for personal prayer, reflection and quiet time.
I was part of a women's Bible study last year and the leader used the book weekly to jump start our corporate prayer time. I loved what she read so I ordered myself a copy off of amazon.com and I have truly benefitted from it. I, personally, journal when I pray and sometimes feel I can not adequately express myself or sometimes I am just at a true loss for words. After I journal my own words I look in the "Contents" to find a related prayer to help me continue my time of prayer and worship with the Lord. I have not read all of them or even half of them (there are a lot!) but I have yet to come across one that did not affect me. They are truly meaningful and beautiful. I absolutely love, love, love hymns and if you love hymns then I think you will definitely enjoy incorporating these prayers into your own quiet times.
The "Contents" is broken up into 10 different categories:
1.Father, Son, and Holy Spirit 6.Approach to God
2.Redemption and Reconciliation 7.Gifts of Grace
3.Penitence and Deprecation 8.Service and Ministry
4.Needs and Devotions 9.Valediction
5.Holy Aspirations 10.A Week's Shared Prayers
These categories make it easier to find a relevant prayer for what you are currently dealing with. Most days I have to force myself to only focus on one because I could literally spend hours going through several that would be relevant. One thing I do have to be careful of is not taking these prayers as the inerrant word of God because these are simply prayers written by simple, sinful men. They are not Divinely inspired words and should in no way be treated as such. It definitely shows me the power of elegant speech, which can be a little scary. If you do use this book, PLEASE PLEASE PLEASE remember this is simply a guide and nothing more. In the preface, Bennett will explain the true purpose of the book and explain what its purpose is not. He also lists who the texts are taken from, such as: John Bunyan, Isaac Watts, David Brainerd and Charles Haddon Spurgeon to name a few. Basically, Bennett has taken chunks of text from these men and expounded upon them and arranged them in their poetic structure for the purpose of this book. The result is simply beautiful. I HIGHLY encourage you to use this book not only in your daily quiet times but also as a tool for corporate prayer but always remembering that, "The soul learns to pray by praying" (Bennett).
I will include some of my favorite excerpts that I have read along the way just to give you a taste...
"The Awakened Sinner"
...I confess that thou hast not been in all my thoughts, that the knowledge of thyself as the end of my being has been strangely overlooked, that I have never seriously considered my heart need...
...Show me how to know when a thing is evil which I think is right and good, how to know when what is lawful comes from an evil principle, such as desire for reputation or wealth by usury. Give me grace to recall my needs, my lack of knowing the will in Scripture...And let me not lay my pipe too short of the fountain, never touching the eternal spring, never drawing down water from above.
...O God, I cannot endure to see the destruction of my kindred. Let those that are united to me in tender ties be precious in thy sight and devoted to thy glory...Let not those of my family who are amiable, moral, attractive, fall short of heaven at last...