More Love to Thee

Posted by Naomi Vacaro on

A review of Elizabeth Prentiss’ book, “Stepping Heavenward”
Miranda Ewing

Stepping Heavenward is a fictional collection of journal entries from a nineteenth-century girl named Katherine Mortimer. Katherine or “Katie” Mortimer is passionate, witty, and full of zest for life. Her antics and words remind me of the beloved Anne Shirley of Anne of Green Gables or the well-known Jo March of Little Women. However, in Stepping Heavenward, Katie’s journal entries pointedly and purposefully carry us through her sanctification in Christ. We begin our journey with her at the young and wonderful age of sixteen and when the book ends, she is a seasoned believer, wife, and mother. 

Stepping Heavenward is a unique story because the author, Elizabeth Prentiss, uses fictional means to guide and challenge young believers (particularly women) as they grow in Christ. Much of the story is actually based on her own life— both her joys and her suffering. Elizabeth Prentiss lost her father at a young age and when she was a mother, lost two of her children. She also suffered various physical ailments throughout her life. Katie faces some of these challenges as well, and the reader sees her grieve and suffer honestly, but also ultimately finds her hope in Christ. What lessons does a woman learn as she leaves the teenage years, gets married, has children, experiences tremendous loss, and draws nearer to her Savior? You’ll have to read Katie’s story to benefit from Prentiss’ gems of wisdom. 

My Thoughts:
Stepping Heavenward was a book I heard of a long time ago. I actually began it in high school after hearing that Elisabeth Elliot was influenced by Elizabeth Prentiss’ writing, but I never finished it. I picked it up again when I saw it recommended by a ministry I follow on Instagram. It was a book I read slowly over the course of a year, mostly because I wanted to savor it and really take in what Prentiss was saying. 

It amazed me as I read that this book was published in 1869. Many of the things Katie said in her journal I completely related to. I found myself saying, “Me too, Katie” again and again. It encouraged me that the problems we face today are not new. There are certainly things that are different today than how they were in the 1800s, but just as 1 Corinthians 1:13 says: “No temptation has overtaken you that is not common to man” (ESV). 

What I treasured most from this story was how Katie grew in both her realization of her sin and her love and need for Christ. They happened simultaneously. Many might recognize the name of the hymn: “More Love to Thee, O’ Christ.” This song was also written by Prentiss and I find the words to echo the overall point of Stepping Heavenward. Take a look at the lyrics 

“More love to Thee, O Christ, more love to Thee!"
Hear Thou the prayer I make on bended knee;
This is my earnest plea: More love, O Christ, to Thee;
More love to Thee, more love to Thee! 

Once earthly joy I craved, sought peace and rest;
Now Thee alone I seek, give what is best;
This all my prayer shall be: More love, O Christ, to Thee;
More love to Thee, more love to Thee!

Let sorrow do its work, come grief or pain;
Sweet are Thy messengers, sweet their refrain,
When they can sing with me: More love, O Christ, to Thee;
More love to Thee, more love to Thee!

When shall my latest breath whisper Thy praise;
This be the parting cry my heart shall raise;
This still its prayer shall be: More love, O Christ, to Thee;
More love to Thee, more love to Thee!”

I have to tell you that once I finished this book, I was in tears. There were actually many times while reading that I would pause and cry from the beauty of what Prentiss was writing, especially as she walked through deep sorrow. It really is one of the best books I have ever read. I think any believer would benefit from owning, reading, and re-reading a copy of Stepping Heavenward.



Lives in Fort Wayne, Indiana with her husband, Sam, and son, Jack. She and her husband actively serve together at Headwaters Church.

Book Review Christian Living

← Older Post Newer Post →

Leave a comment