Thursday, December 11, 2014

A Comprehensive Examination of Prayer

In the second half of life, Thomas Keller and his wife realized how important prayer was for them. Both were diagnosed with serious illnesses. When he was diagnosed with thyroid cancer, his wife asked him to pray with her every evening. Perhaps because of the timing, they realized the importance of praying regularly at night and have been doing it every since. Their experience is an excellent introduction to this useful volume.

Keller points out that prayer occurs in all cultures. It may differ in presentation, Buddhists, Muslims, and Christians pray differently, but they all pray. Even atheists have admitted that they pray. Prayer is a facit of most people's lives. From this perspective, Keller examines the various aspects of prayer.

In Part One, Desiring Prayer, he discusses the need for prayer with an delightful illustration of Flannery O'Connor's struggle with prayer. Part Two, Understanding Prayer, discusses the many varieties of prayer both in religious and non-religious traditions. Part Three Discusses how theologians like Augustin, Luther, and Calvin taught about prayer and the methods they used. Part Four, Deepening Prayer, uses illustrations from John Owen, C.S. Lewis and others to discuss meditation and the experiential aspects of prayer. Part Five, Doing Prayer, is about learning how to pray. I thought one of the best parts of the book was the last chapter which is a guide for daily prayer.

I highly recommend this book. It not only gives a broad overview of the history and cultural differences of prayer, but it leaves you with a plan for your own spiritual development through daily prayer.

I reviewed this book for Net Galley.