“You Must Read: Books That Have Shaped Our Lives” – Banner of Truth

YouMustReadCoverA new title I had been eagerly anticipating finally came last week – part of an order from the Banner of Truth Trust. The book is You Must Read; Books That Have Shaped Our Lives (2015, 289 pp.), a collection of thirty-two chapters written by authors, pastors, teachers, and readers who have benefited from the books published by the Banner of Truth. Each one describes how a particular book shaped their Christian thinking and living – from the works of John Bunyan to the Letters of John Newton, from biographies on Spurgeon and Jonathan Edwards to titles on prayer and devotion.

Here is part of the publisher’s description:

Have you ever wondered what influences have shaped the preachers, teachers and authors you respect? You Must Read brings together more than thirty well-known Christian leaders and gives them the opportunity to talk about a book that has made a lasting impact on their lives. Their personal narratives and recommendations of the literature that has moulded and matured them combine to produce a book full of interest from start to finish, but also one that can be ‘dipped into’ for occasional reading. Best of all, You Must Read will be an indispensable guide to some of the truly great books that have transformed, encouraged, instructed and challenged countless Christians’ lives. You Must Read is a ‘must read’ in itself, and a marvelous stimulus to read more.

ValleyofVisionA chapter that immediately stood out for me was the sixth, in which Mark G. Johnston describes how the book The Valley of Vision by Arthur Bennett influenced his prayer life. You may know how much I have appreciated this book as well (a gift from my sister Sue many years ago!), if you have seen some of my posts here.

Below is a portion of Johnston’s comments on this highly profitable volume – about the value of written, recorded prayers – ones with a high view of God:

It follows that if our view of God is too small then the prayers we offer will be small and limited as a consequence. Even within the limits of the Lord’s Prayer, which in so many ways seems short and simple, there is a height, depth, and breadth that should take our breath away.

…We see something of that scope in the prayer-psalms of the Old Testament: they manage to cover an extraordinary array of issues that take their authors through the entire spectrum of human emotions. It is for that reason the Psalms not only speak to us in what they reveal of God and teach about his purpose, but they also speak for us as we struggle to find words to express ourselves before God in similar life situations.

That same scope and variety has been reflected in the recorded prayers of God’s people throughout the ages. We see them eloquently expressed in the prayers and collects for the common man that lay at the heart of the older liturgy of the Church of England, prayers that traverse the needs of the nation and the world while at the same time plumbing the depths of the human heart. We see them too in the rich variety of the Puritan prayers assembled by Canon Bennet in The Valley of Vision.

From prayers of worship and adoration to prayers of penitence and confession, prayers for daily needs of life to prayers for the church and those who serve in it – there is hardly a circumstance of life which is not addressed somewhere in this anthology – a feature that enhances its usefulness as an aid to personal prayer (p.46).

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  1. […] from You Must Read: Books That Have Shaped Our Lives (Banner of Truth, 2015), Chapter 2, “The Works of John Bunyan” by Faith Cook, […]


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