The associate pastor of our church, James Anderson, and I just finished reading and interacting with Give Praise to God: A Vision for Reforming Worship. The book is a Festschrift commemorating the life and work of the late James Montgomery Boice (July 7, 1938 – June 15, 2000). It contains a collection of essays exploring the topic of worship, which was one of Boice’s passionate pursuits. The book is divided into four parts which explore the biblical foundations for worship, the elements of worship, personal worship, and practical considerations on worship. In the introduction, Philip Graham Ryken recounts two special influences on “young Jimmy”: prayer and instruction.
The Boice’s ended up worshipping at Tenth Presbyterian Church for about two years. It was there that young Jimmy learned his first Bible verses, which are still preserved in a family album. It was also there that a famous encounter took place. One night shortly before Christmas, Newton [James Boice’s father] dropped his wife, Jean, and son at the door of the church and went to look for parking. Once inside, they were met by the imposing figure of Dr. Barnhouse, who said, ‘What, may I ask, are you doing here tonight?’
Jean responded, ‘Isn’t this the night for the Christmas party for the children?’
‘No, it’s next Sunday—you come back next Sunday.’
‘Suddenly,’ Jean remembers, ‘he picked Jim up, put his hand on Jim’s head, and prayed silently. I didn’t hear the prayer, but I always felt that the Lord used that prayer in a special way in Jim’s life.’
Dr. G. Newton Boice eventually took up his medical practice in McKeesport, Pennsylvania, where the family made lifelong friends at the First Evangelical Church Free Church. The minister there, Philip Hanson, preached clear, biblical sermons, and the Boice children were nourished by the church’s Bible-based Sunday school curriculum.
(Philip Graham Ryken, “Introduction” in Give Praise to God [eds. Ryken, Thomas, Duncan III; Phillipsburg, NJ: P&R Publishing, 2003], 2).
His pastor’s prayer and his church’s Bible-saturated, age-appropriate instruction would prove to be a part of what God used to mold “young Jimmy” into Pastor Boice.