“Beginning Prayer” by John Killinger

I’ve had the pleasure of reading this fine work by John Killinger.

A relatively short book, but nonetheless full of wisdom and inspiration and some really good ideas.

What struck me most about this book is that the author is addressing Christian prayer, but over and over throughout the book, I see similarities to prayers, meditations, reflections and spiritual practices often linked to other religious traditions.  One sees mindfulness practices, silence practices, the speaking of tongues (glossalalia), in his chapter entitled “The Use of Mere Syllables”.

A mainline denominational pastor and scholar, Brother Killinger talks about both the unfamiliar and familiar in the prayer life of an evangelical.  Many topics were familiar, and yet, many brought fresh insights and ideas to incorporate into my own prayer life.

Perhaps my favorite chapter in the book was where he talked about the various postures of praying.  Raised in the United Methodist faith, and later joining the Southern Baptist denomination, praying often takes place in our churches either while seated in a pew, or standing at the offeratory or benediction.  Occasionally, we are moved to go the altar and bow at the railing.  Only in recent years have I really studied and become familiar with lying prostrate. 

Even in the practical sense, Killinger even talks about changing positions while praying for long periods, as the body aches and knees stiffen from being in the same position for a duration.  In my own prayer life, I’ve found that lying prostrate before the Lord is edifying, as I’m making a conscious act to approach in my most reverent humility.  I, too, find that after a period of time, I am forced to change positions.

To help with my own health and flexibility, I have begun using a dynamic yoga program.  Only for the exercise, there is no “spiritual” experience taking place.  I have found that the most comfortable prayer position for me is a position called “the child pose”.  From a kneeling position, one leans forward and brings their forehead approaching or touching the floor.  Then one extends and stretches their arms forward on the floor.  Not only is it a humbling position of prayer, but also offers a physical respite of total relaxation and stretching out the back. 

I suppose I may have gone overboard in discussing positions of prayer, but I must say that this book has opened up my creativity as I approach my own prayer life.

The one thing that I took from this book that I am going to start tomorrow, (or as soon as I can obtain one) is the use of a Catholic Rosary.    Not for praying “Hail Marys”, but to count the repeated prayers of “Lord Jesus Christ, have mercy on me”.  I see this as bringing additional focus and discipline in praying, and was first mentioned in the 19th century book, “The Way of the Pilgrim”.

What I learned is simple… “When is the best time to pray?… Anytime.  Where is the best place to pray?… Anywhere.  What is the best position for prayer?…. Any position.”  One needs to cultivate the personal discipline and focus in order to establish a regular, meaningful, and effective style of prayer.

I live in a small home and don’t have the luxury of my own “prayer closet”.  However, I have a specific place to sit in my time of prayer and devotion.  And, to symbolically block out the world and draw into the secret place of the most high, I cover my head and shoulders with a tallit.  (a Jewish prayer shawl).

I highly commend this work to you and trust you will not only be inspired and taught, but that your heart and mind will be drawn to the Lord in a new and dynamic way.

This review may also be found on: http://www.GoodReads.com; http://www.Amazon.com; http://www.NetGalley.com, and my personal blog: BookReviewsByJon.Wordpress.com.

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“Frozen Footprints” by Therese Heckenkamp

I’ll be quite honest here.  In the days after receiving the book, it sat on my “to read” pile, and I passed over it several times.  I didn’t think I would like this book.  When I finally opened it up, I didn’t feel a whole lot different.  I didn’t think I would like it.  After the first page or two, the feeling hadn’t changed.  I kept thinking to myself, “if I put this book down, what am I going to read next?”

But somewhere around page four or so, she did it.  Therese Heckenkamp grabbed my by the collar and hooked me in… In to a marvelous thriller  of murder, dysfunctional relationships, and superb intrigue.  

Other reviewers have remarked about their lack of understanding of some of the Catholic related subjects.  I’m in the same boat.  Not a Catholic myself, but I treated these Catholic references as an opportunity to learn more about the beliefs and practices of the Church.  

I loved the characters, and found myself recollecting the bonds that I had with my brother.  We were very close and he was lost in a traffic accident when he was 18.  So, I could relate to the sibling bonds here.

Therese Heckenkamp is a wonderful writer, with a very positive future in writing.  I look forward to future volumes from this gifted young lady, and wish her all the best as she continues to master her craft as an excellent story-teller.   

This has it all…. mystery, intrigue, a screwed up family, and more.  If you are looking for an interesting, compelling, and entertaining read, get ahold of this book.  You will be glad you did.

I received this book directly from the author with the understanding that I would give a fair and honest appraisal.  I have not personal or professional affiliations with Therese Heckenkamp or the publisher.  There were not financial considerations offered nor expected regarding this review from the writer, publisher, or this reviewer.  You may also find this review posted on Amazon.com; Goodreads.com; and my blog: BookReviewsByJon.wordpress.com.

Thanks.  Your feedback is always appreciated.

On a Quest for Christ: Tracing the Footsteps of Your Spiritual Journey (Paperback) by Lisa Are Wulf

“On a Quest for Christ…” is a wonderful devotional.  Containing 30 daily readings, the book speaks to the heart, mind, soul, and spirit.  

Lisa Wulf writes from her own heart about her own spiritual journey, and I found myself crossing paths with her along the way of my own journey.

I especially identified with her personal story in Chapter 4…”When I was a child, the message rang loud and clear, ‘When you have accomplished enough, then we will love you.'”  My eyes moistened as I likened my own story to her words.  

Her story in Chapter 17 further spoke to me: “As I moved closer to God, parts of my life didn’t click anymore.  Change was on the horizon, but I felt resistant.  I especially cherished my pre-believer independence…”  All I can add to that sentiment is, “PREACH IT, SISTER!”

Mrs. Wulf’s writings are challenging, inspiring, and though provoking.  She presents a simple format that helps you recognize both the simplicity and grand complexity of the Mighty God we serve.

I found this inspiring set of devotions to be equally appropriate and insightful for both the male and female reader. As a plus, the volume also includes opportunities to address questions and create a journal of our own personal journey.

God has gifted Lisa A. Wulf with a tremendous, insightful, and inspired talent to reach those who are hurting, searching, or simply looking to draw closer to our God.

I highly recommend this devotional to anyone, regardless of their spiritual condition.  Lisa, you truly bless us with this excellent effort. God Bless you.

This review can be found on Amazon.com, Goodreads.com, and my own blog:
JonReviewsBooks.wordpress.com.

I received this book at no cost as an ARC from the author in exchange for a fair, honest, and timely review.  I have no professional or personal ties with the author or publisher.  And, I have no financial incentive based on my review. 

“Heart of Terror” by Craig W. Dressler

“Heart of Terror” by Craig W. Dressler is a very good read of Christian oriented espionage.  It follows the path of two “good guys” who both find themselves deeply imbedded in Iranian terrorist cells.  They meet early in the story, part ways for a number of years, and then are reunited by circumstances. 

What I liked most about this book is that it just 130 pages long.  Its a quick read.  But, even given its relative shortness, is a tale with rich character development and obvious exhaustive research by the author.  Never once did I doubt that this entire story could actually be taking place in today’s world of religious separation. 

The reader is in for a treat in getting to know the two main characters as they question their lives, motives, and participation in the story.  Even within 130 pages, the author craftily weaves a tale that slowly builds its crescendo to the final climax.

I know I’ve already mentioned the book’s length two times.  However, I was pleasantly surprised how Mr. Dressler was able to weave this believable piece of fiction with such efficient use of words.

I highly recommend this book, as it will provide you a few hours of entertaining reading, as well as some new insights into Middle Eastern and Islamic culture.  Mr. Dressler has authored a handful of other books, and I definitely look forward to reading more of his work.  Get this one!!

This book was provided to me as an ARC directly from the author.  I was gifted the book in exchange for a fair and timely review.  I have no personal or professional ties to the author or the publisher.  And there was no financial incentive on either the author or this reviewer.

This review may be found on goodreads.com, amazon.com, and on my blog: JonReviewsBooks.wordpress.com.

Thank you.

Jon Kidwell