John Baillie: “My First Thought”

John Baillie (1886-1960) was born in Scotland.  He was a professor, theologian, and author.  I first became aquainted with him through his little book A Diary of Private Prayer.  My good friend, Chris Bullard, and I were in Steele’s Christian Bookstore (used books) in Kansas City where our family was living at the time.  We were browsing through the store when Chris found a copy of Baillie’s work.  "This is a great book," he said.  He already owned a copy.  I purchased it upon his recommendation and have enjoyed it for many years.

 
The following is an excerpt from A Diary of Private Prayer:

Eternal Father of my soul, let my first thought today be of You, let my first impulse be to worship You, let my first speech be Your name, let my first action be to kneel before You in prayer.

 
For Your perfect wisdom and perfect goodness:

For the love with which You love mankind:

For the love with which You love me:

For the great and mysterious opportunity of my life:

For the indwelling of your Spirit in my heart:

For the sevenfold gifts of your Spirit:

I praise and worship You, O Lord.

 
Yet let me not, when this morning prayer is said, think my worship ended and spend the day in forgetfulness of You.  Rather from these moments of quietness let light go forth, and joy, and power, that will remain with me through all the hours of the day;

 

Keeping me chaste in thought:

Keeping me temperate and truthful in speech:

Keeping me faithful and diligent in my work:

Keeping me humble in my estimation of myself:

Keeping me honorable and generous in my dealings with others:

Keeping me loyal to every hallowed memory of the past:

Keeping me mindful of my eternal destiny as a child of Yours.

Through Jesus Christ my Lord, Amen.

 

(Taken from Richard Foster’s Devotional Classics, pp. 126-127.)

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  • J R R

    Yes I do have loved & made use of ADOPP by John Baillie for many years (over thirty :-). First in the German edition, then the English. –Would you please pray for me, as Rev Baillie’s son, Ian Fowler Baillie, has tasked me to find an American publisher for a (lightly) updated edition? And enlist a bunch of friends to, also! Thanks very much!!!
    (The usefulness of more contemporary style should be obvious. (No real revision of Baillie’s text or the Bible quotes since 1949!) It has of course, many magnificent phrasings and expresssions which we will keep; just touch up the framework.)
    ASKING for prayer not just for “routine” blessing of work, but the copyright situation is sticky, with both Ian and the current publisher having certain rights: the current publisher will insist on certain conditions (the update must be considerably higher priced, and hardback); and Ian would like me to have a preliminary agreement by early November, not much time!!
    John R.

    • http://dorsetbaptist.org Pastor Ed Pickard

      JRR,

      I came across your 2007 post about ADOPP. Did you ever get anywhere with an updated version? I have updated my own copy and was about to contact Simon and Schuster about the possibility of a new edition.

      I would like to hear from you.

      Ed Pickard

  • Jim Martin

    John,I will be happy to pray regarding this.  What an opportunity! 

  • Ed Stewart

    I am a Christian writer who discovered ADOPP only a few years ago. I find it very helpful to my devotional life, having memorized a few of them for frequent use. However, I stumbled over the King James English. So, for my own personal use, I lightly paraphrased the 31 days of prayers, essentially swapping out thee, thou, didst, etc. for contemporary equivalents and simplifying some of the longer sentences while retaining the "magnificent phrasings and expressions" of which you spoke.
    Having completed the paraphrase and used it for many months, I began Googling to see how I might obtain permission simply to share my paraphrase with close friends who, like myself, have trouble wading through KJ English. My search led me to this page! If a more contemporary version of Baillie’s prayers has not been completed, perhaps someone would like to look at my version. I would love to see a "contemporary English" version, and if mine can help in that direction I’ll be happy to talk to someone about it.
    Ed Stewart

    • John R Rafferty

      Ed, Jim (and friends),
      A concern and wish on my and our heart, will certainly need some prayer and encouragement:

      It may be time to pick up and re-start the proposal to get an updated-language version of A Diary of Private Prayer (lightly edited into plain English for Americans–this will be only a USA edition as Ian worked out with great labor with the pbk ed. publisher. Eternal memory, and kudos).

      Ian’s death in November 2008 was a major blow, and setback. For as Mrs Baillie the widow wrote me, being alone for the first time in 57 years was at the forefront of her attention, and “the book project could not be given the time it would deserve and require.” It seemed fitting to leave her at least a year to grieve, and the 3 children too.

      But all the reasons that Ian and others around the world noted, are still valid. (Richard Foster in America, and Rev Richard Schmidt of Forward Movement Press; Ms Gibson of Paraclete Press; Rev Merlin Croucher in Australia of JohnMark Ministries (for former clergy); and many many ordinary users.) Ian himself wrote the prayers were wonderful and useful but “the language is a little dated.” So he found three American “revisionists” (wry humor) to produce a draft. We only got into talking with some new publishers, before Ian’s passing.

      Let me briefly relate, IFB was not only copyright holder, but MAINLY it was written for him, as a lad of 15 (!) and both the 1936 (I suppose) and the 1949 editions were dedicated “For Ian”.

      So I’ll be available to help launch this, and assist in any way. Ed has superior experience and contacts with the publishing world. (I just have the conviction it ought to be done and accomplished; so as to make available and ‘expose’ to a new generation to this wonderful classic (!) (with praise and honesty, delight and contemplation, and echoes of Scripture, BCP, and occasional reflection on a brief quote of Augustine; or Dante; Tennyson; Bronte; and wisdom from a few lesser known mystics and writers, with a sort of Celtic sense of things: “We have here no continuing city, but seek One that is to come”)!
      (So John, brother librarian at a church, will connect people or coordinate or fill in whatever role I’m assigned.)

      Pray for wisdom in first-contact letter, after a pause…
      Just enough, to re-arouse interest, and show how it could be done. Perhaps some reviews, and samples of work.
      (I’ll mail Ed S. off-line with some questions and thots.)

      /JRR/ John R.

      • Neil

        Hi,

        Have there been any moves since on publishing a “rejuvenated” edition of ADOPP? Clearly, like others, I have worked on the book to make it easier (for me!) to get the most our of the book. I would love to know the state of play! If anyone out there is still following this a quick reply on this forum would be fantastic!

        Thanks,

        Neil

  • Jim Martin

    Ed,Welcome!  Sounds like you have undertaken an interesting project.  Perhaps someone will see your comment and respond. 

  • Robert Mounce

    Part of the power of Baillie’s writing lies in his remarkable choice of words. A masterpiece cannot be separated from the idiom through which it speaks to the human heart. Baillie for Dummies won’t work. Might as well try selling the Mona Lisa painted by numbers.

  • J R R

    Ed, and all:     I’m glad to have stirred up a little comment.  To Ed I’d like to respond positively (offline).  There must be a way to make available your work.  John Baillie’s son and heir is looking for a good current American edition, and a publisher.  (Today is his 87th Birthday; John B. dedicated the book to Ian when Ian was 15 years old!)      To Robert Mounce, I appreciate the care to remind us, to take off the shoes from our feet, we are walking on holy ground.  (Not to exaggerate ; but a book continuously in print since 1949, first edition written in 1936 shows a certain staying power.  And blessing to many.  So one should tread lightly, and respectfully.)    Nonetheless, this same blessing should be made available and accessible to oncoming generations "who know not Joseph."  And not Baillie for Dummies, but minimal and very light transforming of Thee/Thou, and the very long paragraphs and sentences would help without changing the author’s CONTENT and almost all of his "remarkable choice of words."  That’s my honest opinion, I hope we can converge, or "disagree agreeably."  (By the way I’m touched to hear from Mounces if these are the father  & son teaching theology and New Testament Greek? )  Yours,  John Rafferty

  • Ed Stewart

    John Rafferty: Love to chat with you offline. Contact me at edwordguy@comcast.net. Ed Stewart.

  • Lesley Burch

    I was fortunate to find a copy of A Diary by John Baille at my church. It did speak volumes for me. Now I started to search to see if other books existed out there for purchase. I believe a hard covered copy would be great to keep all these treasured prayers. I do love the original language but am curious to see an update. Will keep an eye on this web site for any news!

  • http://www.cerritos.edu/bmansell Bonnie Mansell

    I came across this site this morning in a curiousity search, and I am glad to find it. About five years ago I discovered the Diary of Private Prayer. I had been looking for a daily prayer book and had tried several others, but this is the one that most allowed me to make the written prayers my own prayers. I loved this book so much that I bought copies for each of my five children, who were teenagers at the time. Old language and all, they all love the book and have taken it with them as they have ventured out into the world. I will certainly be interested in the development of an updated version of these prayers, but I have mixed feelings about that. I’m one of those people who find modernized hymns to be, well, not exactly offensive, but unnecessary, and often unequal to the original. If the original is still comprehensible, I think we gain a great deal by reading the author’s words. Reading Shakespeare for the first time is hard, but several re-readings make it a pleasure. On the other hand, it is very hard to understand Chaucer in the original, and an unabridged George MacDonald is daunting. I have no problem with modern translations of scripture, since I can’t read the original Greek and Hebrew anyway. So King James is no more the original than the NASB.
    I want to say that what I love most about these prayers is the real distinction between the morning and evening prayers. Taken together, they remind of the gorgeous morning glories outside my front door, which open up with such enthusiasm in the morning, then close so gracefully as the day comes to an end. The morning prayers are full of "going forth" ideas, and they remind me of the power that comes through conscious submission to God’s presence, purpose, and willingness to use me. The evening prayers are contemplative, reflective, gracious ways to close the day. They acknowledge our failures, yet remind us of God’s unconditional love. Again, we consciously place ourselves in His presence, but in the evening we find the comfort and peace we so desperately need in a broken world. And in all of the prayers we are reminded not only of our own personal relationship with the creator of the universe, but also our place among our fellow fallen creatures, who so urgently need His grace.
    Morning Glory — and Evening Grace (as Hugh Hewitt would say)

  • W G Henry

    Is anyone aware of Baillie’s writings or reflections during the rise and fall of the Nazi war machine….. 1933 – 1945?

    • John R Rafferty

      Dear W G Henry,
      You might get the best answer to this question from reference librarians at the U. of Edinburgh familiar with the “Baillie project”: large collection of Baillie family papers (which Ian donated).

      –www.baillie.lib.ed.ac.uk/
      Or also from scholar George Newlands, who has done several books on the Baillies: perhaps chap.6 “John Baillie and Friends, in Germany and at War” in the book, Scottish Christianity in the Modern World (T&T Clark, 2000).

      I do remember Ian F.B. confirming that his father John Baillie had corresponded with Dietrich Bonhoeffer!

      /brother librarian, John/

  • M Harmon

    I too worked on an updated version of ADOPP and was in email correspondence with Ian Baillie. I would enjoy comparing.

  • M. Parkinson

    On the way to work in early March of this year, I spotted a pile of books beside a dumpster. Being a book person, of course I stopped and retrieved the whole stack. Among the treasures was a copy of "A Diary of Private Prayer". I too have trasncribed all of the prayers as part of my morning and evening devotions. It has been an extraordinary spiritual journey. The original text is very beautiful as well as inspiring. However, when I worked through "translating" each of the prayers I found even more inspiration for my daily life experiences.
    This book is an ever living document that has found its way in to many hearts and lives through the years.
    Thank You Rev. Braille

  • Andrew

    yes – it’s even well known and loved among certain of us in far off New Zealand. Is anybody aware of any video clips that are available of Dr Baillie?

  • John R Rafferty

    [To list-editor Jim, if this almost duplicates a previous posting, kindly delete that one, and keep this.]

    Ed, Jim, M.Harmon (and friends),

    May I ask you & many friends to pray about a concern and wish on our heart, for wisdom & encouragement: Restarting the project (or campaign) for a “Diary of Private Prayer, 21st century edition” (or whatever name it will receive!).

    It may be time to re-activate the proposal to get an updated-language version of A Diary of Private Prayer (lightly edited into plain English for Americans–this will be only a USA edition as Ian worked out with great labor with the pbk ed. publisher. Eternal memory, and kudos).

    Ian’s death in November 2008 was a major blow, and setback. For as Mrs Baillie the widow wrote me, being alone for the first time in 57 years was at the forefront of her attention, and “the book project could not be given the time it would deserve and require.” It seemed fitting to leave her at least a year to grieve, and the 3 children too.

    –BUT all the reasons that Ian and others around the world noted, are still valid! (Richard Foster in America, and Rev Richard Schmidt of Forward Movement Press; Ms Gibson of Paraclete Press; Rev Merlin Croucher in Australia of JohnMark Ministries (for former clergy); and many many ordinary users.) Ian himself wrote the prayers were wonderful and useful but “the language is a little dated.” So he found three American “revisionists” (wry humor) to produce a draft. We only got into talking with some new publishers, before Ian’s passing.

    Let me briefly relate, IFB was not only copyright holder, but MAINLY it was written for him, as a lad of 15 (!) and both the 1936 (I suppose) and the 1949 editions were dedicated “For Ian”.

    So I’ll be available to help launch this, and assist in any way. Ed has superior experience and contacts with the publishing world. (I just have the conviction it ought to be done and accomplished; so as to make available and ‘expose’ to a new generation to this wonderful classic (!) (with praise and honesty, delight and contemplation, and echoes of Scripture, BCP, and occasional reflection on a brief quote of Augustine; or Dante; Tennyson; Bronte; and wisdom from a few lesser known mystics and writers, with a sort of Celtic sense of things: “We have here no continuing city, but seek One that is to come”)!
    (So John, brother librarian at a church, will connect people or coordinate or fill in whatever role I’m assigned.)

    Pray for wisdom in first-contact letter, after a pause…
    Just enough, to re-arouse interest, and show how it could be done. Perhaps some reviews, and samples of work (6–10 Day’ prayers, perhaps?).

    (I’ll mail Ed S. off-line with some questions and thots.)

    /JRR/ John R.
    –http://www.baillie.lib.ed.ac.uk/

  • Jim Martin

    John, I am happy to hear that your are pursuing this. This book has blessed so many, many people for decades. I will never forget the time I was in a large used bookstore in Kansas City, Mo. I was with a friend and we were searching for “treasure.” At one point, he took Ballie’s book off a shelf and asked me if I had read it. I was unfamiliar with the book and he insisted that I purchase it.

    What a blessing! I have read through these prayers again and again.

    I say all of this to encourage you in your desire to see a new edition. How wonderful that would be!

    Will be sure to pray regarding this.

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  • http://www.theosource.com Jason Buttopn

    Does anyone know where we stand with regard to an updated edition of ADOPP? I received a comment on my blog from Mr. Rafferty in June of 2010 but have not been able to make further contact with him.

    Ed Stewart, are you at liberty to share your revision?

    Thanks,
    Jason

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