Reviewed by: Nicholas J. Thompson
Be Thou My Vision: A Liturgy for Daily Worship, by Jonathan Gibson. Crossway, 2021. Hardcover, 352 pages, $23.00 (Amazon). Reviewed by OP pastor Nicholas J. Thompson.
God has a way of bringing books across our paths at just the right time. Gibson’s Be Thou My Vision was a providential gift that arrived in the mail right when I needed it. You see, I don’t struggle with consistency in personal devotions. I struggle with monotonous, box-checking, sleepy-hearted Bible reading and prayer. To put it simply, my personal devotions often fall short of true God-exalting worship. And this book was like a bullhorn, waking me up to the great object and end of these times—encountering and magnifying the triune God with all my heart.
In our denomination, we prize liturgy in public worship, often called the order of worship. God calls us to worship and greets us, and we respond in prayer and praise. God speaks his holy law, and we respond in confession of sin. God declares his gracious pardon in Christ, and we respond in adoring, wonder-filled song.
What Gibson has given to us in Be Thou My Vision is such a liturgy, not for public worship, but for private and family worship. The book’s thirty-one liturgies can be used on a monthly basis. Each day’s liturgy combines a blend of Scripture readings, creedal and catechetical readings, and historic prayers and hymns of praise. Gibson has taken the best of our Reformed liturgical heritage and compiled it into a very useful volume for individuals and families. Perhaps it will serve us the most by its simple reminder that private and family worship is just that—worship.
The question may be asked: Is daily worship really required by God? Isn’t it enough to worship him with his gathered people on the Lord’s Day? In his part 1, Gibson provides a concise and compelling argument for daily worship from the Scriptures. Looking at relevant passages in both Testaments, he concludes that “while there is no explicit command to have a time of daily worship as an individual or a family, consisting in reading the Scriptures and praying to God, the habit is certainly assumed or implied in a number of places” (28). The book also contains a number of useful appendixes, including M’Cheyne’s Bible reading plan.
Whether your private or family worship is in need of complete overhaul or minor revision, I encourage you to get your hands on Be Thou My Vision and to put these liturgies to use. This prayer of John Calvin, included in the volume, summarizes how God used Gibson’s work in my own soul. Calvin prays, “May we be roused daily by your words, and may we stir up ourselves more and more to fear your name and thus present ourselves and all our pursuits as a sacrifice to you, that you may peaceably rule, and perpetually dwell in us, until you gather us to your celestial habitation, where there is reserved for us eternal rest and glory, through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.”
May God see fit to use these liturgies to daily rouse the hearts of many to the reality of his holy glory in Christ, so that they might grow in humble, happy, fear-filled worship of and submission to him!
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