Introductory Note:

Long before I knew anything about John Baillie or the reading in Devotional Classics, a wonderful woman of prayer sent me a copy of A Diary of Private Prayer by John Baillie. I should not have been surprised by the gift. Melinda knows the power and place of prayer in the life of a Christ-follower. I count on her prayers for my family. I receive her prayers as wisdom. I learn as she prays.

Richard Foster writes, “There is no better way to learn about prayer than by praying, and we can have no better teacher than John Baillie. It is good to debate the mysteries of prayer, to ponder the profundities of prayer, to learn the methods of prayer. It is better to pray.”

Melinda learned about prayer by praying John Baillie’s prayers—morning and evening prayers. And then she taught me about prayer.

Our family prays the first paragraph of the Twenty-First Day morning prayer before important decisions. It all began when our son interviewed for a job in Washington D.C. He was excited about the opportunity. We were drawn to John Baillie’s petitions “Inspire all my thoughts . . . Suggest all my decisions . . . Be with me in my silence and in my speech.” Our son did not receive the job offer but we knew that our prayer was answered. I am grateful for John Baillie’s book of prayers and for my friend who teaches me how to pray through her prayers.

Allow John Baillie be your teacher. Consider rewriting two of John Baillie’s prayers—a morning prayer and an evening prayer—to make them your prayer. May God inspire all your thoughts.

Margaret Campbell

Excerpt from Devotional Classics

1. First Morn­ing: My First Thought”

Eter­nal Father of my soul, let my first thought today be of You, let my first impulse be to wor­ship You, let my first speech be Your name, let my first action be to kneel before You in prayer. 

For Your per­fect wis­dom and per­fect good­ness:
For the love with which You love mankind:
For the love with which You love me:
For the great and mys­te­ri­ous oppor­tu­ni­ty of my life:
For the indwelling of Your Spir­it in my heart:
For the sev­en­fold gifts of Your Spir­it:
I praise and wor­ship You, O Lord.

Yet let me not, when this morn­ing prayer is said, think my wor­ship end­ed and spend the day in for­get­ful­ness of You. Rather from these moments of quiet­ness let light go forth, and joy, and pow­er, that will remain with me through all the hours of the day; 

Keep­ing me chaste in thought:
Keep­ing me tem­per­ate and truth­ful in speech: 
Keep­ing me faith­ful and dili­gent in my work:
Keep­ing me hum­ble in my esti­ma­tion of myself:
Keep­ing me hon­or­able and gen­er­ous in my deal­ing with oth­ers:
Keep­ing me loy­al to every hal­lowed mem­o­ry of the past:
Keep­ing me mind­ful of my eter­nal des­tiny as a child of Yours.
Through Jesus Christ my Lord. Amen.

2. Sec­ond Morn­ing: Con­tin­ued Depen­dence upon You” 

O God my Cre­ator and Redeemer, I may not go forth today except You accom­pa­ny me with Your bless­ing. Let not the vig­or and fresh­ness of the morn­ing, or the glow of good health, or the present pros­per­i­ty of my under­tak­ings, deceive me into a false reliance upon my own strength. All these good gifts have come to me from You. They were Yours to give and they are Yours also to cur­tail. They are not mine to keep; I do but hold them in trust; and only in con­tin­ued depen­dence upon You, the Giv­er, can they be worthi­ly enjoyed. 

Let me then put back into Your hand all that You have giv­en me, reded­i­cat­ing to Your ser­vice all the pow­ers of my mind and body, all my world­ly goods, all my influ­ence with oth­ers. All these, O Father, are Yours to use as You will. All these are Yours, O Christ. All these are Yours, O Holy Spir­it. Speak in my words today, think in my thoughts, and work in all my deeds. And see­ing that it is Your gra­cious will to make use even of such weak human instru­ments in the ful­fill­ment of Your mighty pur­pose for the world, let my life today be the chan­nel through which some lit­tle por­tion of Your divine love and pity may reach the lives that are near­est to my own. 

In Your solemn pres­ence, O God, I remem­ber all my friends and neigh­bors, my fel­low towns­folk, and espe­cial­ly the poor with­in our gates, beseech­ing You that You would give me grace, so far as in me lies, to serve them in Your name. Amen. 

3. Third Morn­ing: Joy­ous and Help­ful Labor” 

Lord of my life, whose law I fain would keep, whose fel­low­ship I fain would enjoy, and to whose ser­vice I would fain be loy­al, I kneel before You as You send me forth to the work of anoth­er day. 

This day, O Lord—
give me cour­tesy:
give me meek­ness of bear­ing, with deci­sion of char­ac­ter:
give me long­suf­fer­ing:
give me chasti­ty:
give me sin­cer­i­ty of speech:
give me dili­gence in my allot­ted task. 

O You who in the full­ness of time raised up our Lord and Sav­ior Jesus Christ to enlight­en our hearts with the knowl­edge of Your love, grant me the grace to be wor­thy of His name. Amen. 

4. Fourth Morn­ing: Your Wait­ing Presence” 

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

O You who alone know what lies before me this day, grant that in every hour of it I may stay close to You. 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 today embark on no under­tak­ing that is not in line with Your will for my life, nor shrink from any sac­ri­fice which Your will may demand. Sug­gest, direct, con­trol every move­ment of my mind; for my Lord Christ’s sake. Amen. 

5. Fifth Morn­ing: The Lord and Giv­er of Life” 

God of my fore­fa­thers, I cry unto You. You have been the refuge of good and wise peo­ple in every gen­er­a­tion. When his­to­ry began, You were the first enlight­en­er of minds, and Yours was the Spir­it that first led them out of their brutish estate and made them human. Through all the ages You have been the Lord and giv­er of life, the source of all knowl­edge, the foun­tain of all goodness. 

The patri­archs trust­ed You and were not put to shame:
The prophets sought You and You com­mit­ted Your word to their lips:
The psalmist[s] rejoiced in You and You were present in their song[s]:
The apos­tles wait­ed upon You and they were filled with Your Holy Spir­it: The mar­tyrs called upon You and You were with them in the midst of the flame:

For­bid it. Holy Lord, that I should fail to prof­it by these great mem­o­ries of the ages that are gone by, or to enter into the glo­ri­ous inher­i­tance which You have pre­pared for me; through Jesus Christ my Lord. Amen. 

6. Sixth Morn­ing: This Your Great­est Gift” 

O God, who has proven Your love for all human­i­ty by send­ing us Jesus Christ our Lord, and has illu­mi­nat­ed our human life by the radi­ance of His pres­ence, I give You thanks for this Your great­est gift. 

For my Lord’s days upon the earth:
For the record of His deeds of love:
For the words he spoke for my guid­ance and help:
For His obe­di­ence unto death:
For His tri­umph over death:
For the pres­ence of His Spir­it with­in me now:
I thank you, O God.

Grant that the remem­brance of the blessed Life that once was lived out on this com­mon earth under these ordi­nary skies may remain with me in all the tasks and duties of this day. 

Let me remem­ber—
His eager­ness, not to be min­is­tered unto, but to min­is­ter:
His sym­pa­thy with suf­fer­ing of every kind:
His brav­ery in the face of His own suf­fer­ing:
His meek­ness of bear­ing, so that, when reviled, He reviled not again:
His steadi­ness of pur­pose in keep­ing to His appoint­ed task:
His sim­plic­i­ty:
His self-dis­ci­pline:
His seren­i­ty of spir­it:
His com­plete reliance upon You, His Father in Heav­en.
And in each of these ways give me grace to fol­low in His foot­steps. Amen.

7. Sev­enth Morn­ing: O Lord and Mak­er of All Things” 

O Lord and Mak­er of all things, from whose cre­ative pow­er the first light came forth, who looked upon the world’s first morn­ing and saw that it was good, I praise You for this light that now streams through my win­dows to rouse me to the life of anoth­er day. 

I praise You for the life that stirs with­in me:
I praise You for the bright and beau­ti­ful world into which I go:
I praise You for earth and sea and sky, for scud­ding cloud and singing bird:
I praise You for the work You have giv­en me to do:
I praise You for all that You have giv­en me to fill my leisure hours:
I praise You for my friends:
I praise You for music and books and good com­pa­ny and all pure plea­sures. Amen.

An Evening Prayer

O God, immor­tal, eter­nal, invis­i­ble, I remem­ber with glad­ness and thanks­giv­ing all that Thou has been to this world of men: 

Com­pan­ion of the brave: Uphold­er of the loy­al: Light of the wan­der­er: Joy of the pil­grim: Guide of the pio­neer: Helper of labor­ing men: Refuge of the bro­ken-heart­ed: Deliv­er­er of the oppressed: Suc­cour of the tempt­ed: Strength of the vic­to­ri­ous: Ruler of rulers: Friend of the poor: Res­cuer of the per­ish­ing: Hope of the dying: 

Give me faith now to believe that Thou can be all in all to me, accord­ing to my need, if only I renounce all proud self-depen­dence and put my trust in Thee. 

Show thy lov­ingkind­ness tonight, O Lord, to all who stand in need of Thy help. Be with the weak to make them strong and with the strong to make them gen­tle. Cheer the lone­ly with Thy com­pa­ny and the dis­tract­ed with Thy soli­tude. Pros­per Thy Church in the ful­fill­ment of her mighty task, and grant Thy bless­ing to all who toiled today in Christ’s name. Amen. 

Excerpts tak­en from Devo­tion­al Clas­sics: Select­ed Read­ings for Indi­vid­u­als and Groups (Richard J. Fos­ter & James Bryan Smith, Edi­tors. Harper­Collins, 1993.)

Orig­i­nal­ly from A Diary of Pri­vate Prayer by John Bail­lie, pub­lished 1936.

Pho­to by Ted­dy Kel­ley on Unsplash

Text First Published December 1992 · Last Featured on July 2019

📚 The 2022 – 23 Ren­o­varé Book Club

This year’s nine-month, soul-shap­ing jour­ney fea­tures four books, old and new, prayer­ful­ly curat­ed by Ren­o­varé. Now under­way and there’s still time to join.

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