Prayer by O. Hallesby — Book Review

I’m not surprised this book is considered a classic, because it is one of the best books on prayer I have ever read. Every reader will find something here to deepen their understanding and practice of prayer. Some of my take-aways are:

*The need to be helpless in prayer. Only when we understand that we cannot change or fix any problem on our own do we become completely reliant upon God.

*The need to understand prayer as the most important work of the church. We would never neglect other responsibilities that we accept, but we are quick to push prayer aside because of lack of time or energy.

*The purpose of prayer is to glorify God.

There are many other helpful insights with chapters on difficulties in prayer, the misuse of prayer, forms of prayer and more.

VERDICT: 5 STARS. An easy, but meaty read. I highly recommend it!

For more posts about prayer see:

Prayer in the Night by Tish Harrison Warren–Book Review

A Praying Church by Paul E. Miller– Book Review

The Lord’s Prayer with commentary by Rick Warren–Book Review

5 Puritan Women by Jenny-Lyn de Klerk–Book Review

This short book gives us a glimpse into the faith lives of five Puritan women. Each essay highlights a spiritual practice which was influential in way that particular woman related to her family and the world.

  1. Agnes Beaumont– Memorization
  2. Lucy Hutchinson — Theology
  3. Mary Rich — Meditation
  4. Anne Bradstreet — Prayer
  5. Lady Brilliana Harley — Spiritual conversation

The author has consulted primary sources such as letters, poetry and other writing to create these portraits, but her style is not academic, and will be easy for lay readers to understand. These women were grounded in their own time and history, so often their influence was limited to their family and community. That doesn’t make them insignificant. After all, that will be true of most of us. Their experiences should inspire and encourage us to find our own unique way to spread the love of God in the places and with the people we’ve been given.

VERDICT: 5 STARS. Well done and interesting.

The Lutheran Ladies received a free copy of this book in return for a fair and honest review.

If you would like to purchase this book follow this link:

For more about the puritans see these posts:

Who were (are?) the Puritans?

The Saints Everlasting Rest by Richard Baxter –Book Review

Jonathan Edwards on Walking With God

New Month/No Theme?

Hello readers! Normally every other month has a theme, but this month I decided to have no theme again. Why? Well, my study life and faith journey has been VERY eclectic. Our Bible study has been looking at the book of Revelation; in Sunday School we’re reading the book of James. I’ve been reading a book about prayer, and another about Puritan women. I’m preparing for a Lutheran Via de Cristo retreat, and as part of that process I’ve been considering personal piety and all that means. There are simply too many topics at work in my busy brain to limit myself (and any other authors) to just one! So this month, expect a wide variety of topics. We’re just going to see where God leads us!

This month also falls during the church season of Lent, a time when we should all be particularly prayerful. You may be attending extra church services, fasting, or spending more time examining your Christian life. Please send us your comments, as the Lutheran ladies would love to hear your story. Our wish is to be Christian women, learning together.

For more about Lent see these posts:

Henri Nouwen on Lent

A Lenten Message Part 1

A Lenten Message Part 2

A Praying Church by Paul E. Miller– Book Review

I’ve read many books on prayer, but this is one is unique because it deals mostly with corporate prayer. The author is perfectly right in maintaining that community prayer is neglected in our churches today. Although we may pray in a routine or mechanical way to open meetings, prayer meetings are few and poorly attended. Spontaneous prayer between members is rare. Why is this? The author posits that the secularism of our society has undermined belief in the efficacy of prayer. He begins with a section on why we should pray together, and a short history of prayer in the church.

Subsequent chapters address topics such as:

  1. What is the church?
  2. How the Spirit reshapes a praying community
  3. The Art of Praying Together
  4. Specialized praying in Community

Many sections end with some specific advice for pastors who are trying to revive prayer in their congregations. However, the book is directed to the all church memebers , as we are each responsible for making prayer a normal, frequent part of our community life.


The Lutheran Ladies received a free copy of this book in return for a fair and honest review.

If you are interested in purchasing this book, follow the link below:

For more book reviews see:

What is a Girl Worth by Rachael Denhollander–Book Review

The Dawning of Redemption by Ian J. Vaillancourt –Book Review

Letter to the American Church by Eric Metaxas–Book Review

What is the Collect?

The collect is a short, general prayer used in liturgical Christian services. It gathers or “collects” the thoughts and prayers of the entire Church as they apply to the theme of the day. Here is the collect which was used at a worship service I recently attended.

Lord Jesus, our only source of forgiveness and peace, give us strength to confess our sins and faith to rely on Your mercy in time and for eternity; for You live and reign with the Father and the Holy Spirit, one God, now and forever. Amen

Collects generally follow the form below. As you can see, the collect i referenced above fits neatly into this.

There is an address to God and to his character or actions in the world on our behalf.

Lord Jesus, our only source of forgiveness and peace

There is a request.

give us strength to confess our sins and faith to rely on Your mercy in time and for eternity

There is an invocation and doxology (expression of praise).

for you live and reign with the Father and the Holy Spirit, one God, now and forever

There is the Amen.

For more posts about prayer see:

A Funeral Prayer

Eleanor Roosevelt — A Wise Prayer

Praying for Those Who Hurt Us

Seeking Wisdom by Julia Cameron — Book Review

I have mixed feelings about this book. The author is involved in a twelve-step program, as are many of the people she interviews. I have a great respect for AA and other similar groups, but in this book, the “higher power” most often espoused seems to be a God of the person’s own making, not the God of the Bible. The author states that:

“Their conceptions of God varied from ‘an energy’ to ‘best friend’ to benevolent something’, from Baptist to Catholic, Buddhist to Hindu, but all agreed that God is real and we can contact God.”

She even advises readers to “create the god you would like to talk to.”

If you can put all that aside, and it isn’t easy, she offers many good suggestions for journaling and prayer practices. Every page also offers quotes about prayer (I love quotes!), but once again they are a mixed bag using the words of traditional Christians (including Martin Luther) along with others that are Buddhist, Hindu or just secular.

VERDICT: 4 for readability and practical suggestions; 0 for theology. Be sure you are able to separate the wheat from the chaff if you decide to read this one. Certainly not a book to recommend to young or new believers.

For more about prayer see these posts:

The Holy Spirit and Prayer

A Prayer of Surrender

The Lord’s Prayer with commentary by Rick Warren–Book Review

Jesus Listens by Sara Young–Book Review

With thick, glossy pages and an attached silk bookmark, this 365-day devotional would make a beautiful gift for a Christian friend. It includes a presentation page. Each devotion is dated, and includes a daily prayer, as well as a number of Scripture references that support the theme. There are prayers of peace, joy, hope and love and are designed to be a starting point for other personal prayers.

In the author’s introduction, she says:

“Many years ago, I went to Covenant Theological Seminary…. I especially enjoyed a course on the Bible’s wisdom literature, and the professor was indeed very wise. From the array of wisdom he imparted, one simple teaching has stayed with me …. his personal practice of praying, ‘Help me Holy Spirit’ throughout the day… it reminds me that I am not alone.”

The prayers in Jesus Listens, if used regularly, will also remind us that Jesus is always available, and ready to hear us.

VERDICT: 5 STARS. I have enjoyed using this book during my morning devotional time.

For more devotionals see these posts:

Good Enough by Kate Bowler and Jessica Richie–Book Review

90 Days with The God Who speaks –Book Review

Big and Little Coloring Devotional – Book Review

Litany of Humility

A book I am reading mentioned this litany, written by an early twentieth century Spanish Catholic cardinal, Rafael Merry del Val y Zuluenta. I looked it up and found it very moving. Maybe we should each be inspired to write our own prayer, asking that we be delivered from our personal besetting desires and fears.

O Jesus! meek and humble of heart, Hear me.
From the desire of being esteemed,
Deliver me, Jesus. (repeat after each line)
From the desire of being loved,
From the desire of being extolled,
From the desire of being honored,
From the desire of being praised,
From the desire of being preferred to others,
From the desire of being consulted,
From the desire of being approved,
From the fear of being humiliated,
From the fear of being despised,
From the fear of suffering rebukes,
From the fear of being calumniated,
From the fear of being forgotten,
From the fear of being ridiculed,
From the fear of being wronged,
From the fear of being suspected,
That others may be loved more than I,
Jesus, grant me the grace to desire it. (repeat after each line)
That others may be esteemed more than I ,
That, in the opinion of the world,
others may increase and I may decrease,
That others may be chosen and I set aside,
That others may be praised and I unnoticed,
That others may be preferred to me in everything,
That others may become holier than I, provided that I may become as holy as I should

For more about humility see these posts:

The Gift of Humility

Rest in Humility

Remembering to be Humble

An Ignatian Prayer

O Christ Jesus, when all is darkness and we feel our weakness and helplessness, give us the sense of Your presence, Your love and Your strength. Help us to have perfect trust in Your protecting love and strengthening power, so that nothing may frighten or worry us, for, living close to You, we shall see Your hand, Your purpose, Your will through all things.”

Ignatius of Loyola

For more prayers see:

A Prayer for Unity with Christ

A Prayer to be Taught by the Holy Spirit

A Prayer of Surrender

Two New Words

In today’s post I decided to explain a couple of theological terms that most won’t find familiar. I learned about them years ago when I took a two-year course in spiritual direction. Here are the definitions:

Apophatic–knowledge of God through negation. In other words, God is so mysterious, so different, that He can be best described by what He is not.

Cataphatic--knowledge of God through affirmation. This means positive descriptions of God based on what He has revealed in Scripture.

These two “ways” of thinking about God lead to different types of praying. “Cataphatic” prayer has content; it uses words, images, symbols, ideas. “Apophatic” prayer has no content. It means emptying the mind of words and ideas and simply resting in the presence of God.

Centering prayer, also known as contemplative prayer and listening prayer, is a form of apophatic prayer. It is the practice of relaxing, emptying the mind, and letting oneself find the presence of God within. It involves silence, stillness, patience, sometimes repeating something, and the practice of “not knowing” as the person seeks God’s presence.

Ignatian prayer is an example of cataphatic practice. This type of prayer is imaginative, reflective and personal. The spiritual exercises of Ignatius involve putting oneself into a biblical scene or event and thinking about what it would mean personally. It involves the use of words and images.

Neither way is wrong, in fact, each may be beneficial at different times and stages of life. Most of us are more familiar with the apophatic method, using words, praying out loud. However, sitting in silence and waiting can be helpful, too. Try them both! There is no right or wrong way to pray!

For more posts about prayer see:

Prayer Disciplines Part 1

Prayer Disciplines Part 2

The Holy Spirit and Prayer #2