Book Review: A Diary of Private Prayer

A Diary of Private Prayer
John Baillie
$9.99 on
Annie’s rating: 4/4


When I started working, I had to get up early to get ready for the day. My day begins around 5.30am. I get up, jump out of bed into the shower to get my body and brain working, then it’s downstairs to start prepping for breakfast and lunch. Nate does help me after he gets up (an hour later) by getting the kids ready for school and getting them their breakfast while I’m busy putting together last touches for the kids’ lunches and cutting fruit for all of us. Thankfully, most times, our lunches are just leftovers from last night’s dinner so at least I’m not bogged down preparing adult lunches as well.

With all this busyness, I try to spend about 15 mins after my shower doing a quick read before jumping into manic mode. One book that I have found especially helpful to start my day is a devotional classic by John Baillie entitled "A Diary of Private Prayer" It’s a really small book but within it’s covers, I find beautiful, lyrical and rich prayers to start my day.

Daily Supplements

This book was first published in 1949 and the edition I have is a 1996 one. At only 135 pages (with half of them blank for your own notes), it is a small book. But this is one book you wouldn’t consider reading in one go. It’s meant to be read daily and as a supplement to your own prayers and bible reading. For me, it’s been my help especially first thing in the morning when my brain is barely working much less trying to formulate prayers. John Baillie has an amazing way with words, and so many of his prayers touch me profoundly. He really directs you to God and shares, in his prayers, God’s very own heart for the nations. If only I was half as eloquent.

The book is very simply organized. He has 31 prayers written for 31 mornings, and another 31 for the evenings. Right at the end, he has two more prayers for Sunday morning and evening. You can choose to follow the order he has set it up or just mark off the days you’ve read. Simple though it seems, every single time I’ve read this book (I pick it up for many days, let it go for a while, then pick it up again), I’ve found something new to meditate, pray or reflect on.

The language is a struggle sometimes as it is filled with "thee’s", "thy’s" and "thou’s" but once you get past that, the heart of the prayers really speak volumes. I will leave you with today’s prayer as an example of the beauty of his prayers and hope that you get as much from it as I always do:

Almighty and eternal God,
Thou art hidden from my sight:
Thou art beyond the understanding of my mind:
Thy thoughts are not as my thoughts:
Thy ways are past finding out.
Yet hast Thou breathed Thy Spirit into my life:
Yes hast Thou formed my mind to seek Thee:
Yet hast Thou inclined my heart to love Thee:
Yet hast Thou made me restless for the rest that is in Thee:
Yet hast Thou planted within me a hunger and thirst that make me dissatisfied with all the joys of earth.

O Lord God, I praise and magnify Thy name that thus Thou hast set Thy seal upon my inmost being, not leaving me to my own poor and petty selfhood or to the sole empire of animal passion and desire, but calling me to be an heir of Thine eternal Kingdom. I bless Thee for that knocking at my heart’s door that warns me of Thy waiting presence. I bless Thee for Thy hand upon my life, and for the sure knowledge that, however I may falter and fail, yet underneath are Thine everlasting arms.

O Thou who alone knowest what lies before me this day, grant that in every hour of it I may stay close to Thee. Let me be in the world, yet not of it. Let me use this world without abusing it. If I buy, let me be as though I possessed not. If I have nothing, let me be as though possessing all things. Let me to-day embark on no undertaking that is not in line with Thy will for my life, nor shrink from any sacrifice which Thy will may demand. Suggest, direct, control every movement of my mind; for my Lord Christ’s sake. Amen.

Taken from: A Diary of Private Prayer: A Devotional Classic by John Baillie, Simon & Schuster Inc: New York.

So here is my question for the week–is there a book, a phrase, anything written/drawn that inspires you and that you go to again frequently for reflection/meditation? Leave a comment and share it with us!

Cheers, Annie

2 thoughts on “Book Review: A Diary of Private Prayer”

  1. Greetings from Silicon Valley. ‘Been visiting your blog for about half a year now. Keep it up, you guys! I love Spurgeon’s daily meditations. And the best thing is they can be found free online. Will check out A Diary of Private Prayer. Looks like a great book to help start out and end the day.

  2. Hi Annie, I love daily meditation books..sometimes you can get an answer to all these little things in life and people that you can hardly understand. It was 4 years ago when visited my Uncle in Indonesia. He gave me this daily meditation book called “Everyday Osho – 365 Daily Meditations for the here and now”. I’ve been counting on it ever since. You might be able to get it in Kuching, or if you are going to Delhi for the Commonwealth Game there should be a couple of OSHO store downtown or at the mall. (My Uncle said he got it from a friend in India)

    I’m going to get myself a copy of John Baillie’s..thanks for sharing. 🙂

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