In June, a group came from Chicago to help out at the home for needy children where my wife and I valley-of-vision-bookserve.  The leader of the group is Jim Hardman.  He has brought a group down every year for the last ten years or so, and we have become friends over that time.  Him and his group always bring gifts for the missionaries at the mission.  He told me about this little Puritan Prayer book that he had discovered, and that encouraged him in his personal devotion time.  He said he brought a copy in Spanish for our pastor.  It sounded like a book that I would quite enjoy and was somewhat disappointed that he did not have a copy for me.

Two weeks later my family and I were in Colorado, visiting my parents and my sister and her family.  I like reading about the Civil War and my sister had a few Civil War books for me.  She gave me another little book that she said her and her husband have been enjoying as well.  She had a brand new copy of The Valley of Vision for me.  The very same book that Jim Hardman had been talking about.  I started reading it and I love it.  I love the old language, but more than that I love the perspective of the Puritan writers.  Every prayer focuses not only on the goodness of God, but on the wretched, vile, state of humans, which makes the goodness of God to humans seem all the sweeter.

I like these prayers so much that I want to include excerpts of them in this blog about enjoying God.   Below is one entitled God Enjoyed.

Known, but beyond knowledge, revealed, but undervalued, my wants and welfare draw me to thee, for thou hast never said, “Seek he me in vain.”
To thee I come in my difficulties, necessities, distresses; possess me with thyself, with a spirit of grace and supplication, with a prayerful attitude of mind, with access into warmth and fellowship, so that in the ordinary concerns of life my thoughts and desires may rise up to thee.
Continue the gentleness of thy goodness towards me, and whether I wake or sleep, let thy presence go with me, thy blessing attend me.
Thy vows are ever upon me, and I praise thee, O God.

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Puritanism was a religious reform movement that arose within the Church of England in the late sixteenth century. Under siege from church and crown, it sent an offshoot in the third and fourth decades of the seventeenth century to the northern English colonies in the New World–a migration that laid the foundation for the religious, intellectual, and social order of New England. Puritanism, however, was not only a historically specific phenomenon coincident with the founding of New England; it was also a way of being in the world–a style of response to lived experience–that has reverberated through American life ever since.

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