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Meet Me In The Valley Of Vision

Several years ago I picked up a copy of The Valley of Vision. As I thumbed through it I thought, “This just isn’t me. I don’t pray like this. I don’t use words like this.” So I put it down and went on my way.

I continued to hear comments about how it was helping people in their prayer life. I would say to myself, “I’m glad it’s helping them but it just isn’t me.”

Not long ago I ran into a low spot in my prayer life. It seemed like all my prayers ended up being the same. I also felt like it was unusual for my prayers to go higher than the ceiling. I know we shouldn’t base what we do on our feelings, but I confess that’s where I was.

One day I was looking through the articles posted at a web site I frequent. There in the providence of God they had posted a prayer. It immediately grabbed my attention. As I was reading it I was convicted and thought, “My thoughts of God are too small. Maybe that is what is wrong with my prayer life. Maybe I need an enlarged vision of God.”

When I got to the end of the prayer I was struck by the reference for the prayer I had been reading. It was from The Valley of Vision. I couldn’t believe it! Of all the places for them to find a prayer they used the very book I thought wasn’t for me. How wrong I had been.

I immediately purchased a copy of The Valley of Vision and started using it as an aid in my prayer life. Maybe now is when you expect me to say, “I’ve had no problems since then. Prayer is no longer a struggle or a fight.” I can’t say that but I can confidently affirm that I believe my communion with God is deeper and richer than when I started employing this book as a guide to help me in my fellowship with God.

I don’t recite or repeat the prayers in The Valley of Vision verbatim. First, I read through the prayer to familiarize myself with its content. Second, I contemplate how it relates to my life. Third, I consider what specific matters I am being called to bring before God. Finally, I pray. I use some of the words or language from this guide but I often use my own words and thoughts.

What I find so helpful is that these Puritan prayers and devotions really work like a primer for me. They get me started thinking in the right direction. They focus my thoughts on God. I believe that was the problem I was struggling with earlier. I was too caught up in myself. My problems and my desires absorbed my time and my thoughts. It was all about me when in reality it is all about God.

It is really interesting to me how God worked in all this. For I firmly believe that prayer is getting caught up in who God is and what he is doing. It is focusing on his kingdom and his purposes. However, over time and with the issues of life I had lost sight of my vision of prayer. This little tool helped me get focused on the main thing once again.

Arthur Bennett puts it like this in the preface, “This book is not intended to be read as a prayer manual. The soul learns to pray by praying, for prayer is communion with a transcendent and immanent God…The prayers should therefore be used as aspiration units, the several parts of which could become springboards for the individual’s own prayer subjects.”

I love the fact that our God is transcendent and immanent. He is separate from and distinct from the creation. He is also so much bigger than the creation. Yet, he cares about us. He is concerned about us. So this great, holy, sovereign, majestic, and personal God calls us to meet him in the Valley of Vision and catch a glimpse of who he is. Notice how the Apostle Paul states it in Ephesians 3:20-21, “Now to him who is able to do immeasurably more than all we ask or imagine, according to his power that is at work within us, to him be glory in the church and in Christ Jesus throughout all generations, for ever and ever! Amen.”

Your elder,

Jim Gordon