Comfort Reading – Prayer Books

My family stays home these days. I’ve been to the store twice since the social distancing measures took effect. We went to one church service before everything had to be wiped off our calendars.

We are healthy. I am thankful for that.

Our governor and officials reacted quickly to the virus threat and we’re waiting to see if that will mean our state will not have to face the terrible situation NYC and other parts of the world are battling.

So…we’re reading a lot. And sometimes not reading at all.

It seems to come in waves, the urge to cuddle down with books and ignore everything, or the desire to be up and DOING something, ANYTHING. (Organize the sock drawers, anyone?)

But anyway, back to reading. I always read a lot. My stack of reading material is usually taller than I am. I have fiction, nonfiction, and spiritual growth.

Today I want to share a list of my favorite prayer books.

Now, I know, you’re thinking, isn’t she Baptist? And yes, I am.

Our branch of Christianity is not traditionally liturgical. I believe that praying is talking with my Heavenly Father and it doesn’t have to be formal. In some ways I am constantly praying as I try to direct the running commentary in my head (annoyances, fears, joys) toward my Creator.

And yet…there is comfort in written out prayers. I write out some of my own, mostly because I think best with a pen in my hand.

And there is great comfort in prayers that other Christians have written or prayed aloud.

Some of these have weight because they have been heartfelt and repeated down through the centuries. Others give us glimpses of fellow believers who have faced trials and difficulties similar to our own.

If it bothers you to think of this as prayer, then maybe just think of them as powerful poetry. Take what’s helpful to you and leave the rest (as you should always do with anything you read).

These are my favorites that I reach for often:
1. The Book of Common Prayer. I prefer the 1928 edition, but there are others. The richness of the language, the infusion of scripture, and the sheer scope of what’s included is unparalleled. Second only to the King James version of the Bible in its influence on the English language.
2. Every Moment Holy. This gorgeous book from Douglas McKelvey makes a wonderful gift. It includes prayers for little mundane moments of life and prayers for the big, overwhelming moments as well.
3. Piercing Heaven. These Puritan prayers are deeply moving. Bonus: this edition is gorgeous.
4. The Valley of Vision. This is another collection of Puritan prayers and devotions. The only drawback to this book is that it doesn’t tell you who wrote each prayer (it includes a list at the back, but not which prayers each believer wrote).
5. The Oxford Book of Prayer. More encyclopedic than the other entries on my list. Contains prayers from many different faiths.

I usually have one of these in my spiritual reading stack. I’m currently working through Piercing Heaven, which is the only one I haven’t read all the way through yet. I might copy a favorite prayer or fragment into my own spiritual journal. But sometimes I just read them and thank God that someone else put into words what I think.

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