-- by Jerry Bridges, Colorado Springs: Waterbrook Press, 2001, 186 and 185 pages.
This excellent pair of devotional books are designed to be used in one’s “private worship time.” Each small volume has a month’s worth of daily readings and prayers, as well as an introductory chapter. In both of the volumes, there are four main topics. Each day’s reading of 3-7 pages is organized under one of these topics .
The first book is an aid to encountering God’s majesty through meditating on four of his primary attributes: greatness, holiness, wisdom, and love. As we think on these things, we are able to “ascribe to the Lord the glory due his name” (Psalm 29:1-2), and this is what Bridges calls the “essence of worship.”
The second book builds on the previous volume’s exploration of God’s awesome character. The focus is “embracing him as Lord” as a continual act of worship. We do this through the response of discipleship, presenting ourselves as living sacrifices (Romans 12:1-2). The daily readings are organized into these four categories:
Each day’s selection includes heartfelt prayers based on Bible verses. The Scripture Index at the back of each book contains about 500-600 passages used (that’s per month!), so you can see that God’s Word permeates the devotional thoughts and prayers.
These devotional guides are not intended just to help you raise your hands higher as you spin around the room in delight, but can be quite challenging. An example is this prayer:
Lord, I am willing
To receive what You give;
To lack what You withhold;
To relinquish what You take;
To suffer what You inflict;
To be what You require.
Read that again, slowly. Can anyone say, “I will exalt you by following you, O God”?
These two volumes are adapted from Bridge’s earlier book entitled “The Joy of Fearing God.” His explanation of this phrase and how it relates to these devotional guides comes in the introductory chapter of the second volume, but it would have benefited the first book as well. There he writes one sentence which strikes me as being especially difficult to explain in an animist context: “Because I fear You, I trust you; and because I trust you, I worship you.” In animistic cultures, many supernatural beings are feared but that certainly does not lead to trust or genuine worship, so that sentence could have used more elaboration with biblical backing. If you should try using these devotionals in a cross-cultural context, watch for such possible incomplete understandings.
The books’ subtitles include the phrase “your private worship” but they could easily be used as a devotional guide for couples or a small group as well. However you use them, the books are excellent resources for meditating on primary aspects of worship: they offer encouragement, motivation, wisdom and challenges, and help us know the Good Shepherd better and choose to follow him more faithfully.
--reviewed by Paul Neeley
Published in Vol.1, No.2 of