I had the opportunity to get my hands on a copy of Crossway’s new Prayer Bible. As you have probably guessed, this is another ESV Bible, but instead of commentary or extensive footnotes, this Bible is designed to show you how the Scriptures devotionally warmed the hearts and souls of men and women throughout church history. Some of the men and women covered include Augustine, Jane Austen, John Calvin, Lady Jane Grey, Charles Spurgeon, Polycarp, John Wesley, George Whitefield, and many others. This edition of the ESV showcases how the Scriptures formed the prayers of these women and men.
One of the features I enjoyed about this particular Bible is that is has a biographical index for every man and woman highlighted throughout this particular version of the ESV. Additionally, the index shows you the particular passages that shaped their prayer life. For instance, one of the men highlighted is William Wilberforce. One of his prayers was shaped by 2 Samuel 23:8-12, and the prayer went like this:
“May we now endeavor to have our hearts and affections set on things above, and to discharge the various duties of our stations with fidelity, as to the Lord and not to man. May we go forth as with the vows of the Lord upon us, and as with a fresh impulse of soul, disposing us more to do the will of God from the heart. May we have our loins girded, and our lamps burning. May our life be hid with Christ in God. May our chief thoughts, our main desires, be about heavenly things, and may we be comparatively little interested about the concerns of this world. May we serve you with a deep sense of our own weakness, and look up to you for continual supplies of grace and strength out of the fullness which is in Christ Jesus; that so we may be enabled to put off entirely the old man, which is corrupt according to deceitful lusts, and may be renewed in the spirit of our minds.”
Prayers like this are so helpful for me to see because I long to for my prayers to conform more and more to Scripture. Only then can I truly understand what Jesus meant when He said, “Whatever you ask in my name, this I will do, that the Father may be glorified in the Son. If you ask me anything in my name, I will do it” (John 14:13-14 ESV).
Another thoughtful feature in this Bible is the prayer index. If you are struggling with praying the Scripture, you can turn to this prayer index, look the Scripture up it references and see how those who’ve gone before you utilized the language of Scripture to pray. I would encourage you, use these prayers. Copy these men and women. Then one day, you will begin to find that you can utilize the Scripture naturally in your own words.
The final feature I’d like to highlight is Donald S. Whitney’s (author of Praying the Bible) introduction to this Bible. Whitney is the perfect person to write a thoughtful introduction on a Bible about prayer. In his introduction he covers how praying the Scripture increases your knowledge of God and how praying the Scripture unites us with those throughout church history who have enjoyed and been changed by the living, breathing word of God.
I commend this Bible to you. It will enrich your devotional life and can be used in prayer group settings. Additionally this is an excellent resource that can be utilized as an educational tool to teach people how to pray the Scriptures and it introduces us to some very godly women and men in church history who made praying the Scripture an vital discipline.
Joey Tomlinson (DMin, The Southern Baptist Theological Seminary) is a husband, father, and pastor at a local church in Newport News, Virginia. He blogs regularly on broadoakpiety.org and hosts a weekly podcast called The Broad Oak Piety Podcast with another local pastor in the community.