Be Thou My Vision by Jonathan Gibson

Whenever Crossway released Be Thou My Vision toward the end of last year, I noted it with interest yet always had more pressing books to buy. Then in April, I grabbed a copy while meandering through the Together 4 the Gospel bookstore, and it has been without a doubt one of my most valuable purchases in recent memory.

In Be Thou My Vision, Gibson has compiled 31 days of liturgies to use for personal worship. To employ modern evangelical terminology, we might call this a devotional book, yet it is quite unlike any other that I am aware of. Indeed, what immediately springs to mind when thinking of a devotional is a book with short, daily meditations upon a verse or two, typically intended to stimulate further meditation throughout the day. But that is not what this book is.

Although Gibson purposely does not call this a devotional (probably to avoid misunderstandings), that word would probably be better applied to such a resource. As I said, Gibson provides 31 days of liturgies (or orders of service, as we Baptists are more likely to call them) for personal use, that is, to give structure to one’s quiet time or devotional time (I now prefer to use Gibson’s term of personal worship).

Each reading follows this structure:

  • Call to Worship
  • Adoration
  • Reading of God’s Law
  • Confession of Sin
  • Assurance of Pardon
  • Creed
  • Praise
  • Catechism
  • Prayer for Illumination
  • Scripture Reading
  • Prayer of Intercession
  • Further Petition
  • Lord’s Prayer

The creed section employs the Apostles, Nicene, and Athanasian Creeds, and for the catechism, both the Heidelberg and Westminster Shorter are included in the appendices. Gibson also includes the M’Cheyne Bible Reading Plan in the back as well. As for the prayers, Gibson draws from theologians throughout church history, from early period like Ambrose, Augustine, and Chrysostom, from the Middle Ages like Anselm and Bernard of Clairvaux, from reformers like Calvin, Bucer, Bullinger, Luther, and Cranmer, and from the 17th to 19th Centuries like Baxter, Edwards, and Herbert.

If the very idea of setting this kind of set form to your devotional time makes you uncertain whether you would benefit from this book, consider its usage to be more of a guide than a limitation. For instance, in my second time through, I replaced the Creeds with reading The Baptist Confession of Faith 1689. Interestingly, while I had certainly held respect for that Confession, reading it devotionally opened my eyes to its beauty, as Spurgeon called it, “an assistance to you in controversy, a confirmation in faith, and a means of edification in righteousness.”[1] Furthermore, although I was already being drawn into the benefit of catechisms, the Heidelberg Catechism particularly has become a precious aid to my soul.

Of course, the core components of personal worship, Scripture reading and prayer, remain fixed, yet the elements that lead up to them have certainly added a depth and gravity to them each day. Be Thou My Vision is a resource worth using, and if you are like me, it may very well thoroughly reinvigorate your personal worship.

[1] The Baptist Confession of Faith 1689, 14.


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