Tag Archives: The Valley of Vision

Why We Need Grace

Are we able to pray these puritanical words today,

Lord, it is my chief design to bring my heart back to thee.  Convince me that I cannot be my own God, or make myself happy, nor my own Christ to restore my joy, nor my own Spirit to teach, guide, rule me.  Help me to see that grace does this by providential affliction, for when my credit is good thou dost cast me lower, when riches are my idol thou dost wing them away, when pleasure is my all thou dost turn it into bitterness.  Take away my roving eye, curious ear, greedy appetite, lustful heart; show me that none of these things can heal a wounded conscience, or support a tottering frame, or uphold a departing spirit.  Then take me to the cross and leave me there.

We need grace!  Grace to see our condition apart from Christ that we might even have a desire to pray this way!  Grace to pray this way!  Grace to pray this way every day!

 

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A New Year’s Prayer to Make Our Own

Wean me from all evil, mortify me to the world, and make me ready for my departure hence animated by the humiliations of penitential love.  My soul is often a chariot without wheels, clogged and hindered in sin’s miry clay; Mount it on eagle’s wings and cause it to soar upward to thyself.

-Puritan Unknown

Infinite Obligation

Excerpt from a prayer in The Valley of Vision:

Let me never forget that I have an eternal duty to love, honour, and obey thee [God], that thou art infinitely worthy of such; that if I fail to glorify thee I am guilty of infinite evil that merits infinite punishment, for sin is the violation of an infinite obligation.

John Frame says,

To glorify God is to reflect that light wherever we are, so that we image God more perfectly, so that people everywhere can see Jesus in us.

The Lord Jesus says,

Let your light shine before men, that they may see your good works, and glorify your Father in heaven.

The Apostle Paul says,

Therefore, whether you eat or drink, or whatever you do, do all to the glory of God.

Living for the glory of God, yes, it is that important; an infinite obligation.

Praying Encouragment

Here is a sample from the great prayer book The Valley of the Vision.

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Holy Lord,

How little repentance there is in the world, and how many sins I have to repent of!  I am troubled for my sin of passion (anger), for the shame and horror of it as an evil; I purpose to give way to it no more, and come to thee for strength to that end.  Most men give vent to anger frequently and are overcome but it, bringing many excuses and extenuations for it, as that it occurs suddenly, that they delight not in it, that they are sorry afterwards, that godly men commit it.  They thus seek peace after outbursts of passion by entire forgetfulness of it, or, by skinning over their wound, they hope for healing without peace in Christ’s blood.  Lord God, I know that my sudden anger arises when things cross me, and I desire to please only myself, not Christ; There is in all wrongs and crosses a double cross – that which crosses me, and that which crosses thee; In all good things there is somewhat that pleases me, somewhat that pleases thee; My sin is that my heart is pleased or troubled as things please or trouble me, without my having a regard to Christ; Thus, I am like Eli, the subject of punishment for not rebuking sin; whereas I should humbly confess my sin and fly to the bloom of Christ for pardon and peace.  Give me, then, repentance, true brokenness, lasting contrition, for these things thou wilt not despise in spite of my sin.

I know when I’m struggling with a lack of prayer in my life, this little prayer book often encourages my soul back before the throne of grace where it belongs!  It is there that I am reminded…

Before the throne of God above
I have a strong, a perfect plea
A great high Priest whose Name is Love
Who ever lives and pleads for me
My name is graven on His hands
My name is written on His heart
I know that while in heaven He stands
No tongue can bid me thence depart
No tongue can bid me thence depart

When Satan tempts me to despair
And tells me of the guilt within
Upward I look and see Him there
Who made an end to all my sin
Because the sinless Savior died
My sinful soul is counted free
For God the just is satisfied
To look on Him and pardon me
To look on Him and pardon me

Behold Him there the risen Lamb
My perfect spotless righteousness
The great unchangeable I am
The King of glory and of grace
One with Himself I cannot die
My soul is purchased by His blood
My life is hid with Christ on high
With Christ my Savior and my God!
With Christ my Savior and my God!

One with Himself I cannot die
My soul is purchased by His blood
My life is hid with Christ on high
With Christ my Savior and my God!
With Christ my Savior and my God!

Our Great God says in Jeremiah 33:3 and Psalm 62:8,

Call to Me, and I will answer you, and show you great and mighty things, which you do not know.

Trust in Him at all times, you people; Pour out your heart before Him; God is a refuge for us.

New Year Recommendations

In the Garden of Gethsemane, as the soul of Jesus was very sorrowful, he asked three of his closest friends to watch and pray with him.  As the Son of God prayed, his three disciples drifted off to sleep.  When Jesus awoke them, he spoke these words,

“…the spirit is willing, but the flesh is weak.”

I do not know about you, but my flesh tends to be so weak that it looks for justification in other’s failures.  “Well, if Peter, James, and John could not even stay awake and pray,” my flesh says, “then somehow I feel a little better about myself.”  It is much too easy to go that route.  When I read the words that Jesus spoke to his disciples, why are the disciples even at the forefront of my thoughts?  What about me?

I know all too well that the spirit is willing, but the flesh is weak.  Too often I feel no different than the disciples, in that I fall asleep on Jesus time and time again.  Oh, I could tell you about the blessed times of prayer that I had in 2012, but I don’t really want to tell you how they were far outnumbered by the absent times of prayer.  I could tell you about how I just finished reading through the Bible in 2012, but do I really want you to know that too many days it was more of a chore than a delight?  It was more of a get this done, so I can check my box and move on with my day.  You know what I’m talking about, right?  The spirit is willing, but the flesh is weak…

This post isn’t about cheerleading you on to a vigorous prayer life and a delight in the word of God for 2013.  It isn’t about convincing you to make these resolutions concerning these areas in your life, when more than likely we will just drop the ball.  Remember, the spirit is willing, but the flesh is weak.  So to help with our weakness, may I offer some recommended books, plans, and tools for the upcoming new year, that may just be of some assistance?  Just promise me that you will remember that the spirit is willing, the flesh is weak, and you won’t beat yourself up over those days when there is no delight in prayer or Bible reading in 2013.  There will be plenty of them.  Instead, look to Jesus who already took the beating in your place.

 

 

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This is a wonderful Bible for your children, and one that I have found great delight in using for our daily devotions at home.  It was put together by a lady named Sally Lloyd-Jones, and I believe she attends Tim Keller’s church in Manhattan.  This is just one of the reasons why you will find a gospel-centered message running throughout all the Bible stories that your children have grown to love over the years.  This children’s Bible is priceless!

 

 

 

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This is another priceless gem!  The Valley of Vision is a collection of Puritan prayers and devotions.  There were many times in 2012 when I used this as my model for prayer.  If that doesn’t make sense to you, trust me when I say get the book, and then I think you’ll understand.

 

 

 

 

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Yet another priceless gem!  Each day of the year has a devotion from one of the greatest theologians to ever live, John Calvin.  It is spiritual food for the soul, and if you find yourself overwhelmed by the pressures and duties of a long day, this devotion can be read in just a few minutes.  Dr. Joel Beeke closes out each day with a summary of what Calvin says, and a prayer to help us throughout the day.

 

Finally, I would like to leave you with two links that are full of Bible reading plans for the upcoming year.

The first one is YouVersion.  You can find their Bible plans here:

https://www.youversion.com/reading-plans

They also have apps that can be downloaded on your phone or tablet.  I just finished reading through the Bible chronologically on YouVersion.  I found the app to be perfect, as it kept up with my plan for me, and there were times I would even listen to my daily readings if I was in my car.

The second link where you can find Bible reading plans for 2013 is The Gospel Coalition found here:

http://thegospelcoalition.org/mobile/article/justintaylor/reading-the-bible-in-2013