More love to Thee, oh Christ, more love to Thee!
Hear Thou the prayer I make on bended knee,
This is my earnest plea
More love, oh Christ, to Thee
More love to Thee, more love to Thee!
This hymn is well known to me and my family and we enjoy singing it. We didn’t realize these were the words of a lady named Elizabeth Prentiss or that it came out of the depth of sorrow in her life, which she kept dedicated to the Lord. Christian Focus allowed us the pleasure of reading the story of Elizabeth in their biography of her titled Elizabeth Prentiss. The subtitle of this book is More Love and how fitting it is once you read of her story.
First, let me share a bit about the company Christian Focus. They have a singular focus in what they are publishing – the Gospel. Through the literature they print, they strive to remain faithful to the infallible word of God, the Bible. In being focused through their publishing, they are trying to fulfill the command of Christ to share His gospel. This focus and outreach guides their publishing house.
Christian Focus sent the Crew several options of titles for review and they all look so interesting. The age range is varied but the quality looks to be solid across the titles.
Big Bible Science, Read To Me ages 5-7; Read by Myself ages 7-11
Elizabeth Prentiss, Read To Me 8-9; Read by Myself 9-14
God is Better than Princesses, Read To Me 0-5; Read by Myself 5-6
God is Better than Trucks, Read To Me 0-5; Read by Myself 5-6
We received Elizabeth Prentiss and used it as a family read aloud. I did read it by myself first and determined that it would make for some wonderful family discussions so I chose to read it aloud. I feel like the above ages are about right for the start of the Read to Me bracket for this book but that the Read by Myself ages are more appropriate at 12 and above due to some of the intensity of emotion from events in Elizabeth’s life (death and illness, not violence). Regardless of the age, it is a wonderful story!
Elizabeth Prentiss is a lady dedicated to God. She knew this from a very young age. We often say this about people who go to foreign mission fields but Elizabeth? She chose to be faithful to God in supporting a loving husband who was a preacher and raising children while serving those around her in many ways. And they did this in America. This is a beautiful picture of a faithful servant of God that we don’t see written down often enough.
At the age of 6, Elizabeth’s father died and her memories of him were of a man dedicated to God. She remembered finding him on the floor praying to God. She saw her mother doing the same often, especially after her father died. These two godly parents set the standard for Elizabeth and she followed it throughout her life, speaking to God often throughout the days. This early experience of death and the soon after experience of her own severe illness were just the beginning of trials Elizabeth was to have to repeat these over and over in her life. Thus, the example set by her parents was one of how to handle life’s trials by leaning on God. And this is the value of the story of Elizabeth Prentiss.
Elizabeth found her strength in Christ and shared this often with those around her. She was an encourager and a strengthener for those who knew her. She knew suffering but did not let it define or burden her. She poured her thoughts and emotions out to the One who could handle them and she encouraged others to do the same.
In living her life as a Christian wife and mother, Elizabeth shows us the beauty of a life dedicated to Christ. Through her own constant illnesses and the deaths of her children and other family, Elizabeth shows us how to stand tall in Christ, how to rely on Him to strengthen when your physical strength is gone. Her life also shows us how to focus on the service that God has given to each of us. Even in her own sorrows, Elizabeth reached out to others. Her children grew in love and strength and dedication to the Lord, just as Elizabeth did. And the submission to her husband is a delight to see, as it shows a beautiful godly marriage where love is freely given by both and strength is gathered through that.
One of the things Elizabeth did extremely well was write. She enjoyed writing and later in her life, she wrote many stories for children. She also wrote down her prayers. Some of these prayers have been set to music and that is where we know the hymn More Love from. In the midst of her sorrow, Elizabeth focused her emotions on loving Christ. This hymn is lovely.
Each of these aspects of Elizabeth’s character are woven together beautifully in this biography.
A feature in the book that I really appreciated is the Thinking Further Topics. For each chapter in Elizabeth’s story, there is a short devotional-like discussion of a related idea. That is followed by a challenge to the reader, something to do that will encourage them to act according to God’s will. The challenge is sometimes as simple as asking you to find more time to pray or to think carefully about how you treat people who are different than you. Other times, it is a bit more difficult such as thinking of a small way to serve God, a bigger way, and a biggest way to serve Him. All of the challenges are within reach of the reader, though, and all of the topics resulted in good discussions for our family. We used these after each day’s readings. They were simple to incorporate.
There is also a timeline of Elizabeth’s life that could be used in a few different ways. One of the girls just wanted to look at it to see how things lined up since the passing of time in the story was not always clear. There were many times the girls stopped me to ask how much time had passed or how old Elizabeth was at a point in the story. The timeline was helpful for that.
We really enjoyed this story and I know we will be keeping our eyes open for more books by Christian Focus.
Lori, At Home.
Be sure to stop by the Crew blog and read more reviews about this book and the others that were being read by families.