Piercing Heaven: Prayers of the Puritans


I bought Piercing Heaven: Prayers of the Puritans edited by Robert Elmer recently. I’ve had it on my want list for a while, but what made me pull the trigger was watching Puritan: All of Life to the Glory of God. By the way, the documentary is pretty expensive. The only affordable option I found to stream it was through Faithlife. That being said, Piercing Heaven has been a blessing.

The book organizes the prayers by practical topics, for example, “Help Me Ask for Help,” “Prepare My Heart For The Lord’s Day And The Lord’s Table,” “Help Me Through My Time of Sadness and Suffering,” and “Help Me Rest in God’s Love.” I love it, because it emphasizes the Puritans’ desire to focus on God in very practical ways in all aspects of life.

These prayers feel more accessible and perhaps more usable than those in The Valley of Vision. I feel like I can pray these prayers without feeling too ornate or poetic or archaic. They feel very natural. That may be because they often prayed God’s Word back to him. That’s not to say these are “lite” prayers. Elmer writes in the introduction:

Their aim was neither casual nor perfunctory prayer. The prayers of the Puritans shook lives to the core, pled with a sovereign God for mercy, and praised him in the brightest sunshine of grace.”

Elmer has updated some of the language in these prayers edited from sermons and other writings, which also helps make them accessible. Rather than go on, I’d like to just share some excerpts from the prayers.

This excerpt comes from the end of a prayer in the section titled, “Forgive My Sins.”

Precious Lord! May I, like Paul, be able to say, “not as though I had already attained”—because I long to catch up to and hold fast to you, Christ Jesus, even as you have caught up to and held fast to me.

So come, Lord Jesus, to your bride the church. Be the fountain of life to all your redeemed, until you bring your church below to join your church above, so they will dwell together in the light of your countenance, forever, amen.

I especially like this prayer in the section titled, “Prepare My Heart for the Lord’s Day and the Lord’s Table. The following are excerpts—

There can be nothing better than to praise your name, O Lord, and to declare your lovingkindness in the morning, on your holy and blessed Sabbath day…

…We declare your greatness and power. Yours is the glory and the victory, and we praise you. Everything in heaven and earth is yours. Yours is the kingdom, and you excel as Lord of all. Riches and honor come from you. You reign over all. You give grace to all. Power and strength are in your hands…

…May my chief delight be to dedicate myself to your glory and honor, not my own way or my own will. When I cease from my works of sin, as well as the works of my daily calling, may I, through your blessing, feel in my heart the beginning of that eternal Sabbath, which I will celebrate with saints and angels in unspeakable joy and glory, to your praise and worship, in your heavenly kingdom forevermore. Amen.

If you’re looking for a prayer book, I highly recommend Piercing Heaven. It’s something you can use both in private and in public worship. You can pick up a copy here.