Today I have the privilege of reviewing “Be Thou My Vision: A Liturgy for Daily Worship” by Jonathan Gibson, put out by Crossway.

In its own words, from the back of the book’s slipcase, this volume is a “31-day liturgical guide designed to enrich and focus your daily devotions….Perfect for individuals and families, this daily devotional will help guide your quiet time with the Lord in a worshipful, Christ-centered way.” If I could summarize this volume in my own words, I would describe this as a devotion that seeks to be liturgical (providing structured worship), historically aware, and theologically sound.

Right out of the gate, I would state that this devotional is exceptional in its balance on theology and heart while many devotions can go to the opposite end of each spectrum. The structure of each daily devotional goes as follows:

Call to Worship Scripture readings, Old Testament and New Testament alternating.
AdorationPrayers from church history
Reading of the LawOne scripture reading out of seven readings that are rotated each week
Confession of SinPrayers from church history
Assurance of PardonAlternating scripture readings
Creed One of the following creeds: Apostles Creed, Nicene Creed, Athanasian Creed (broken into three parts)
PraiseA praise to God
CatechismReading from the Heidelberg Catechism and Westminster Shorter Catechism
Prayer for illuminationPrayers from church history
Scripture ReadingFollows the M’Cheyne Bible Reading Plan
Prayer of IntercessionPrayers from church history
Further PetitionInsert your petitions such as personal, church, etc.
Lord’s Prayer Close with the Lord’s prayer

The beginning of this volume contains thoughtful explanations and reasons for the inclusion of its various elements and their structure. In this section you will also find that, “The musical tunes for the doxology and the Gloria Patri are indicated in appendix 1. The three ribbons serve to help the worshiper(s): (1) Mark the Day; (2) to mark the catechism question; and (3) mark the bible reading plan.” Further, the 2nd appendix contains the Heidelberg Catechism and Westminster Shorter Catechism while Appendix 3 contains the Bible reading plan. Appendix 4 contains collects from the book of Common Prayer and Appendix 5 contains the index for the Author and Liturgy.

What I Didn’t Like

I think it would be best to first speak to what I didn’t like about the volume and what could be improved, in my opinion. My first observation was that the book slipcase is absolutely gorgeous, and my second observation was that the book itself was not. I’m sure you’ll hear me say this many times, but it is my opinion that we should really just get rid of book slipcases and jackets entirely. Not only would it probably help out the publisher in terms of production cost, but it is really disappointing when underneath the hood the visual appeal of a book disappears once the cover is taken off. As one who also likes to throw away my slipcases and book jackets (gasp), I always find it a bit annoying when I have to keep the cover in order for the book to look good. It’s a pretty minor flaw, and petty complaint, when it comes to the overall book here, and of course it doesn’t speak to the content.

In terms of its content, however, what I didn’t like about this volume can be summarized with three points. The first point deals with the translation of the Apostles Creed in this devotion with the translation of the creed stating that Jesus “descended into Hell.” This is one of those things where so many scholars now recognize the translation is unhelpful and confusing, yet, for whatever reason, we stick with it. For more on that discussion you can check this out, but I would ultimately say, I wish the volume translated the Apostle’s creed as descended to the grave or the dead.

The second point is more of a personal preference, but I was a bit confused as to why the book included the Athanasian Creed before including the Symbol of Chalcedon. While the preface notes that the reader will be more familiar with the creeds of the church, and I’m glad this is an element within this volume, I find the exclusion of Chalcedon to be a missed opportunity especially since Chalcedon is particularly unknown for many modern evangelicals. Placing the Athanasian Creed, one exclusive to the West, and virtually unknown to the East for many years, over Chalcedon was a bit odd in my own opinion. Of course, we can simply ask, why not have both in addition to the Nicene and Apostles Creed? Worth noting here is that the “Nicene Creed” in this volume is the Nicene-Constantinopolitan Creed from 589, not from 325 or 381.

The fourth point is a pretty minor one, but I almost wish the volume had substituted an element or two and added in a rotation of Wisdom Literature or the Proverbs in particular. A Proverb a day would have been an excellent touch. I’m also not sure how I feel about how the “Reading of the Law” is used as a category at times, such as when it contains the summaries of the Law or the Beatitudes and not “the Law” itself, but this is pretty moot.

What I Did Like

What I liked most about this volume has to be the fact that prayers from church history are included along with the creeds. Actually, I thoroughly enjoyed the prayer structure of the devotional in general. It made me think that a pocket edition prayer book with this prayer structure and prayers would be excellent. The prayers of confession, assurance, and illumination were fantastic. The only way this could have been improved (in my mind) is if a prayer of application was added after the bible reading plan and before intercession.

Needless to say, the prayer structure and choices for prayers are my favorite part of this volume. It is, essentially, like a more diversified “Valley of Vision.” Additionally, the paper quality in this book is fantastic, and its print quality is very easy on the eyes and appealing.

The fact that the book included Appendixes with the elements you would need was incredibly helpful. With that said, it is worth noting for readers that the confessions you’ll be walking through (the Heidelberg and Westminster) are Reformed in nature, which for most is significant in regards to their positions on Calvinism and Paedobaptism.

Conclusion

Overall I like this devotion a lot. In fact, I don’t often like or finish produced devotions, yet I will likely keep using this one for some time. Aside from my four points mentioned above, this is really a solid devotion and a good structure that could, in theory, even be used within a congregation (of course in modified form given that it is designed for daily worship).

I would recommend this book to those of you who are like me and have the blessing of ADD and need that little bit of “extra” structure to focus better on prayer. Additionally, I think I would recommend this for anyone who feels lost in how they should go about their ‘quiet time’ as this guide will at least give you a starting point. While the structure can seem “packed,” you can always remove certain elements as needed, which makes it versatile.

Pick up Be Thou My Vision here: https://amzn.to/3s5mhk5 or here: https://www.crossway.org/books/be-thou-my-vision-cob/

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