Like earthly relationships, we grow in our relationship with our heavenly Father through communication: listening to His Word and speaking with Him in prayer.
Why not then create an edition of the Bible specially-designed to help us pray? That’s exactly what Crossway attempted in the ESV Prayer Bible.
Prayer has been a topic on my heart for the last few years (and especially now that I’m working on a book on the subject), so I decided to pick up a copy of the ESV Prayer Bible.
- 400 prayers scattered throughout from writers and theologians throughout church history (including Luther, Calvin, Augustine, Saint Patrick, Spurgeon, Wesley, Jane Austen, Ann Judson, and George Whitefield), along with mini bios of each person featured and a bibliography of where the prayer comes from
- a paragraph-length introduction for each book of the Bible that focuses on the book’s contribution to the Bible’s teaching on prayer
- a comprehensive Scripture index that documents each prayer or reference to prayer in the Bible
Like most things put out by Crossway, it has a slick design and is a tactile pleasure in my hands. It’s the Bible my wife and I read from at night before bed. And while I appreciate all of the features the ESV Prayer Bible does contain, it seems like a missed opportunity.
Prayer is such an important topic that the Bible says so much about and the Bible is the quintessential tool for shaping our prayers. What this edition of the Bible does contain is useful, but with more effort this edition could have been an unbelievable resource.
Why didn’t editors include study notes and prayer pointers throughout, especially for important sections like Jesus’ teaching on prayer or the prayers of Paul or the intercessions of Moses? They could have included commentary and short prayers of reflection after each chapter of Scripture. Gathering essays on topics like “How to Pray the Psalms” or “Should We Pray the Imprecatory Psalms” or “A Biblical Theology of Prayer” or “An Introduction to Fasting and Prayer” would have made this an incredible resource. (I would love to edit something like that one day!) Instead, the main feature is random prayers scattered throughout. Perhaps I’m somewhat missing the point of this resource, and maybe my expectations on special edition Bibles is shaped too much by resources like the ESV Study Bible, which I consider one of the greatest resources in human history.
For what it is, the ESV Prayer Bible is a somewhat helpful resource and certainly provides more value than a standard Bible with no features. But oh, what this could have been!
Title: The ESV Prayer Bible
Rating: 3 stars