12 books every Christian should own and read
A series of book reviews used for the monthly church bulletin of 2013
Book no. 12: Daily Readings from J.C. Ryle compiled by Robert Sheehan
For my final review I wrestled with whether to include a book on prayer or a book of devotional readings. While both topics are important I took the second option for two reasons. Firstly, the best way to learn how to pray is to do it. Books will assist you but ultimately if you want to pray broadly, energetically, and consistently you just have to pray.
Secondly, in choosing a book of daily devotional reading I want to emphasise that we don’t have to read large volumes in order to be blessed. I have gained much from short, pithy teaching connected to a verse or two. Not everyone is going to work their way through Calvin’s Institutes of the Christian Religion but every Christian even the deep readers will find great benefit in daily devotionals.
Of course there are many good titles on the market but one in particular I like is ‘Daily Readings from J.C. Ryle compiled by Robert Sheehan’
As the title suggests this book has two authors. Robert Sheehan was pastor of Welwyn Evangelical Church in England. He was a very gifted man who authored a number of good books and sadly passed away before the age of 50 in 1997. He compiled a book of devotional readings by taking selections from J.C. Ryle’s commentaries of the gospels and adding a few thoughts of his own.
J.C Ryle was the most well-known Church of England minister in Victorian Britain. A prolific author, he championed the evangelical cause as the tides of Darwinism, and Liberalism battered the church. All of his books are worth reading and his expository thoughts on the gospels remain a big seller.
Ryle states in the preface that he embarked on this series with three groups in mind: those looking for something to read for family worship; to provide material for people who visit the sick and poor; to assist Christians who struggle to read larger and more technical commentaries but wanted to grow in gospel knowledge. Pull these ideas together and we have expository thoughts which are evangelistically warm, devotionally rich, and spiritually challenging.
For each day Sheehan presents a short reading from one of Ryle’s commentaries along with a parallel passage from another part of scripture. To this he adds his own comments for a modern day context. He concludes with a summarising verse and or comment for reflection. Other daily devotionals I have enjoyed include: Morning and Evening by Charles Spurgeon; Awake My Heart by J. Sidlow Baxter; My Utmost for His Highest by Oswald Sanders; Gentle Rain on Tender Grass by Sharon James.