Monday, May 9, 2011

In Constant Prayer by Robert Benson

When it came time to review my next book for BookSneeze I was not overly excited about In Constant Prayer by Robert Benson.  I initially was anticipatory but while I was waiting for my book to arrive I read other reviews and realized this book was about praying "the office" or "fixed hour prayer" I got a bit unsettled.  I'm not Catholic, I don't know anything about liturgy but I don't think I like it.

I've been intriguied by fixed hour prayer since I started reading Ann Voskamp and I've made feeble attempts when I've fasted.  I grew up in an Anabaptist church and am very unfamiliar with formal liturgy, although Benson assures me that every church service has its own liturgy. 

To be fair I must disclose that I shudder at rote prayers, the call-and-response prayers that I grew up with leave a vile taste in my mouth and a self-righteous annoyance washes over me when someone reads a prayer, particularly one that they themselves did not write. 

But in case you hadn't noticed by the heavy quoting I did last month (and most likely copyright-law breaking in the sheer volume of selections), this book has really made me think and changed my outlook on this topic.

Let me put it to you this way.  It has been a very long time since I have put sticky notes in a book that I read.  I have never used an entire pad of sticky notes and had to go back and rip them into tiny pieces in order to have enough markers to go throughout the entire book.

Benson advocates that you do not do anything important: a job change, vacation, house purchase, nor anything unimportant: a trip to the grocery store, dinner out, a workout without setting an appointment time, having some sembleance of order, and carrying through.  Why, then, do we approach the very most important thing of our day - approaching the Creator of the universe with our desires and needs, as haphazardly as we do?

The Jews had fixed hours of prayer, our Lord and Savior had fixed hours of prayer "As for me, I call to God, and the LORD saves me. Evening, morning and noon I cry out in distress, and he hears my voice." Psalm 55:16-17

"At some point, all of this high-minded discussion about our life of prayer has to work its way into the dailyness of our lives.  It has to be stuck in and around and up next to the meetings and the schedules and the packing and the leaving and the coming home of our lives.

At some point, we have to move from talking about prayer to saying our prayers.  If the marvelous that is possible in our lives of prayer is to have a chance to appear, it will because we have done the mundane."

So, how do you begin to say the office?  "You begin the same way you begin to do anything else that matters in your life.  Ask some questions; take some notes; do some research.  Get pracical here; make a list."

This book has opened a wide, gaping hole in my prayer life and spiritual life in general.  You would likely be aghast or chuckle at the titles of the books sliding across the library check-out counter towards me.  I'm being stretched and I'm questioning. 

***Disclosure of Material Connection: I received this book free from the publisher through the BookSneeze®.com, book review bloggers program. I was not required to write a positive review. The opinions I have expressed are my own. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255

1 comment:

  1. Thanks for your thoughts! I just finished this book for Book Sneeze as well. I wish I would have kept a pen or highlighter or sticky notes handy through the whole book. I'm going to have to hunt around now to find the passages I want to share in my posts about it.


I love to hear your thoughts and reflections!