Book Reviews

Book Review: Piercing Heaven (ed. Robert Elmer)

That prayer that is most likely to pierce heaven
which first pierces one’s own heart

Thomas Watson (1620–1686)

I have a really hard time praying. At least, I have a really hard time praying long prayers with good content. Part of that is because I don’t really like to talk much. I run out of things to say. I don’t make a list of all my prayer requests (not sure why). I pray little bits throughout the day, and in this season of life with kids it’s hard (however, not impossible) to find good extended periods to pray. Because of this my wife and I were excited to get Piercing Heaven: Prayers of the Puritans. She loves the language of the Puritans. I do too, but I especially love their colorful prayers.

There are 16 sections in this book, and I’ll list them all out below:

  1. Teach me to pray.
  2. Help me ask for help!
  3. Help me through my doubts.
  4. Help me through my time of sadness and suffering.
  5. Help me endure temptation.
  6. Help me rest in God’s love.
  7. I believe—help my unbelief!
  8. Prepare my heart for the Lord’s day and the Lord’s table.
  9. Take my life and let it be consecrated.
  10. Help me give the gospel to others.
  11. Forgive my sins.
  12. Help me praise and thank the Lord.
  13. Help me begin the day.
  14. Help me live the day.
  15. Help me close the day.
  16. Your kingdom come.

As you can see, many parts of the Christian life are covered here. Sometimes we know God loves us, other times life is tough and defeating, and we wonder where he is. We need help to rest in his love. Sometimes we doubt. Often we have temptations, perhaps often they are very strong. We even need help to ask for help! sometimes that’s because we want to do it on our own, or we don’t see the problem, or we think God won’t help us. We need help praising and thanking the Lord.

What I love about this book is the language. Most people don’t speak this way today. The Puritans had their own troubles and joys, in one way very different from ours today, but in another the same temptations, trials, thrills, and wonder. Perhaps you feel like your prayers are shallow or that they all sound the same. This book will help you learn how to pray in a different way. It is rich with biblical language and passion over God’s greatness. It is realistic over how we can deceive ourselves, and the only hope we have is Christ’s mercy toward us as sinners.

John Bunyan wrote, “Lord, we profess the faith, and yet care not for the dying… We profess, and yet by our whole life show to them that can see how little a measure of it we have in our hearts” (191). This is both convicting, enlightening, and comforting. It is convicting because it is true for me as it was for Bunyan. It is enlightening to see that the man whose book Pilgrim’s Progress is one of the best-selling books of all time had the same lack of faith that I often see. It is also comforting because I can see that I’m not alone in my weakness. This “giant in the faith” was just a normal man, and he ran to God.

There are 32 contributors in all, a few of them being:

  • Richard Baxter
  • Thomas Brooks
  • John Bunyan
  • Jeremiah Burroughs
  • Stephen Charnock
  • Philip Doddridge
  • Matthew Henry
  • George Herbert
  • John Owen
  • John Robinson
  • Richard Sibbes
  • George Whitefield
  • Octavius Winslow
  • Herman Witsius

Recommended?

I haven’t really known how to review this since it’s a book full of prayers, but it is a wonderful book. Along with The Valley of Vision, I wish every Christian could own this one. I’ve read somewhere recently that one’s spirituality can be seen in how much they pray, for it is in prayer where we show we truly trust that God can work, will work, and can change things. If you’re like me and you find it difficult to pray, or even if you find prayer easy, this is a book that will enrich you spiritually.

Highly recommended.

Lagniappe

    • Editor: Robert Elmer
    • Hardcover: 240 pages
    • Publisher: Lexham Press (December 11, 2019)

Buy it on Amazon or from Lexham Press

Disclosure: I received this book free from Lexham Press. The opinions I have expressed are my own, and I was not required to write a positive review. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255 http://www.access.gpo.gov/nara/cfr/waisidx_03/16cfr255_03.html.

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