A few more books on prayer and spirituality

I suppose I felt I was being too long-winded, but there really were a few other titles I wanted to put on that big list over at the September review column.  These are truly wonderful books, and it isn’t that I forgot them, or didn’t want to share them.  In many ways, I quite sincerely believe these deserve there own good shout-out here, and hope you like reading about them.

The Praying Life: Connecting with God in a Distracting World  Paul Miller (NavPress) $14.99


I hope you know Miller’s previous book, Love Walked Among Us, which is a wonderful study of the life and ways of Jesus, passionate and practical.  Many have been moved by books written by his father and mother and anyone who has heard Paul Miller speak (he does a popular workshop on Jesus, and a PrayerLife Seminar) knows he is a man of joy and seriousness, who desires to help folks understand God and live in grace.  I could say so much about his vision, his work, his books, but just know that this is refreshing, clear, helpful and a personal favorite.  A few who have bought it report that it is life-changing.  At his website he says it was written for “badly praying Christians.”  Yup.

Reformed scholar J. I. Packer says it is “warmly recommended” for being “honest, realistic, mature, wise, deep.”  Don’t give up on your prayer practices, says Steve Brown, “at least not until you read this book!”  I agree.  One of the best.


The Yoke of Jesus: A School for the Soul in Solitude Addison Hodges Hart (Eerdmans) $14.00  This is one of those books that drew me in because of the serene cover (the electronic reproduction to the left doesn’t do it justice) and the nice feel of the small shape and good design.  And, I’ll admit, I found his previous work, Knowing Darkness: On Skepticism, Melancholy, Friendship and God a moving, intellectually enriching, warm and thoughtful meditation.  The author is a Catholic priest and college chaplain, writes sometimes for Touchstone,  and knows how to write clearly, without sentiment or pushiness, without a trace of condescension. This new book is simply about knowing God, carving out time for solitude, how monastic practices can help us, and how to become fluent in the deeper vocabulary of the spiritual life even as we spend our days in ordinary, contemporary lifestyles.   As the wise John Armstrong (ACT 3) writes, “We live in an age when dogma and loving God are too easily separated.  Hart believes the Christian’s goal is the knowledge and love of God, but dogma is necessary to provide the signposts along the road.”  Clear-headed, no?  Yes, we need stillness of soul, and yes, we need gentle but solid reminders to continue the journey.  This is a lovely, wise, little book.  Highly recommended.

With Grateful Hearts: Spiritual Reflections for Everyday Living  (Twenty-Third Publications) $12.95  Some who are drawn to contemporary Catholic formation writers,  perhaps with a progressive tilt and gentle, poetic style, may enjoy this devotional drawn from some of the best of this stream of spirituality.  I may not agree with every line, but these are mostly rich and enjoyable and caring and kind and often moving meditations.   Here, you can dip into best-selling authors such as Joyce Rupp, Basil Pennington, Macrina Wiederkehr, Melanie Svoboda, Mitch Finley, Amy Welborn, and more.  There are prayers and devotions for Advent, Lent, Ordinary Time and some “special days” that are of particular interest to Roman Catholics.  Most of these are drawn from a bigger work entitled Living Faith.

Opening to God: Lectio Devina and Life as Prayer David Benner (IVP) $17.00  This missed

the aforementioned list because I wasn’t sure if it would arrive in time.  Hip, hip, hooray,  because we got it early—it just arrived yesterday so is brand spanking new.  I recommend it without hesitation (I’ve studied all three of his recent and very worthwhile trilogy, Surrender to Love, The Gift of Being Yourself and Desiring the Will of God, which signals a beautiful, ecumenical wisdom shaping evangelicalism these days.)  As a psychologist and spiritual director and theological scholar, Benner knows his stuff.  Further, the advanced rave reviews from all quarters—from Margaret Guenther to Tony Jones, from Trevor Hudson to Peter Scazzero—has made this an anticipated work, promising deep and good advice about prayer of all sorts, but particularly, this notion of finding God as we ruminate and ponder the Biblical text as a key for living all of life as a prayer.  Can we do sacred reading of other texts, as well?  Of course.  Read on…

40-Day Journey With… Henry French, editor (Augsburg Books) $12.99  These useful devotionals include a quote from the author, a Bible text and prayer, and serve as a fabulous intro to or study with the chosen author.  I’ve dipped in to several, and commend them.  There are more than a dozen, and you can select to read from Parker Palmer, Martin Luther, Joan Chittister, Maya Angelou, Kathleen Norris, Howard Thurman, Julian of Norwich, Dietrich Bonhoeffer, Madeleine L’Engle,  and more.




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