“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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