Upon opening the ESV Prayer Bible, the first thing you will notice is the obvious: this Bible is focused on aiding someone in their prayer life. From prayer focused book introductions to the 400+ prayers laced throughout the text–the goal is to help you pray more. At the very beginning of this Bible you will notice an essay by Donald S. Whitney on how and why you should pray the Bible. The short book introductions try and point out the purpose of each book and how it relates to prayer. As you begin reading the text, you will notice prayers that are inserted between passages by various authors. John Calvin, William Wilberforce, Augustine and Martin Luther are just a few people who have prayers listed within this Bible. Each prayer is prefaced with the passage it corresponds to and how you can pray through that particular passage. To be honest, part of me was skeptical having prayers inserted in the text, but once I started thinking more through this idea, it has been warming up to me. If we can take prayers from our spiritual forefathers, it can in turn really aid in our communion with God–and what better way to pray to our Heavenly Father than by using His Word?! That said, are you going to appreciate each prayer (or author of one of the prayers) in this Bible? Perhaps not. But my guess is that the goal is not whether or not you like some of the wording or particular author of a prayer–but that you are praying more. Being inspired by God’s Word and praying through His Word will only pay dividends in your communion with God. As I read through some of the prayers in this Bible, they often reminded me of prayers I have read in the “Valley of Vision.” I am a huge fan of the “Valley of Vision,” and the fact that Crossway effectively put prayers in line with corresponding texts is a good marriage between the two (in my opinion). I would highly recommend this as a good edition to read through–and pray through. It is inexpensive and a good way to help jump start a prayer life that will be inspired by Scripture.
Now let’s get to the actual make up of the Bible. I think the hardcover version is very attractive and nice looking. I really like the accents of gold on the outside and inside covers. The paper is a little thinner than I would prefer, but isn’t too distracting. The binding is Smyth Sewn, which will help the text block last for some time. Regarding the text layout: I like how Crossway separated Scripture from the prayers. I don’t think the prayers are placed in a way that would be too distracting for a reader–you could easily skip over them or read them, the choice is yours. Overall, I am quite please with the look and quality of this Bible.
I would argue that this Bible is quite readable with a 9.25pt font. Due to the single column text layout, reading this Bible felt very similar to an NLT Caxton or ESV Clarion in font size/readability. The one thing I did notice is that this Bible is not line matched–however, due to 400+ prayers being inserted, I don’t think you could make this Bible line matched. That said, there isn’t too much ghosting and I am pleased with the opacity. If your eyesight is not the best, you may find the prayers inserted into the text a touch too small (7.5pt font), but to be honest, it seemed in line with how most study notes are in a Study Bible. Overall, quite enjoyable to read.
Without trying to be “Captain Obvious,” this Bible would be recommended to enhance your prayer life. It would be a great Bible to read through and pray through (bonus: there is a reading plan in the back). Since this Bible is hardcover, it lays flat and is easy to read from cover to cover. The size also feels good in the hand or on the desk. I would not necessarily recommend for preaching/teaching due to single column and prayers laced throughout–but it would make a great reader/”pray-er.”
Font Size: 9.25pt font, prayers 7.5pt font
# of Columns: Single column text
Margins: 5/8″ of outside margin
Red Letter/Black Letter: Black Letter
Lays Flat: Yes, like most hardcovers this size
Estimated Life: Depending on usage, I would guess 5-10 years
Art Gilting: None
Paper Quality: White in color, and spmewhat thin
LxWxD: 5 5/8″ x 8 5/8″ x 1 5/8″
# of ribbons: One, blue
# of maps: None
Cross References: None
Concordance: Yes, 57 pages
Text Edition: 2016 ESV text edition