Wednesday, April 13, 2011

Book Review: Mysteries of the Jesus Prayer

I'm a reader. I've always been a reader and it's pretty certain to say that I'll always be a reader. Honestly if it weren't for my husband and kids I wouldn't even own a television because I watch it that infrequently. Television is too easy for me. I need a book to be able to flex my mind. So obviously when I find a good one, I pounce.

Enter Mysteries of the Jesus Prayer. I have to admit, I was a bit hesitant when I approached this book. I read quite a bit of Christian literature, but as a contemporary Baptist, the subject matter of this book (icons, ancient prayers, etc.) was a bit foreign to me.

The more I read the more fascinated I became as the book shares the history and practices of the mystical tradition of The Jesus Prayer, which is no more than a sentence long. Also this book is packed with amazing photography for a slew of holy sites where photography is normally not allowed.

Norris and Father John McGuckin, a priest of the Orthodox Church, wrote Mysteries of the Jesus Prayer: Experiencing the Presence of God and a Pilgrimage to the Heart of an Ancient Spirituality as a travelogue and companion to the film documentary they shot on a spiritual pilgrimage to monasteries and convents in the Middle East, eastern Europe, and Asia. Their goal was to learn what they could about the origins and practice of this prayer and bring what they learned back to the West.

Prayer is a very personal thing, or at least for me it is.  It's also something that I've had to condition myself to do.  It's not always easy and it's always forthcoming.  Sometimes I get distracted and sometimes I don't get the answers that I'm looking for when I speak with God.  It can be discouraging.  But it's also the root of a love so amazing that we don't always understand it.  And that's ok.

My personal perspective on prayer, its practice, history, and its value has been enriched profoundly by reading this book. I recommend it to anyone interested in delving into the history of prayer and how that history can inform and mold our faith today.


Anonymous said...

I'm so glad that this book gave you some insights that you found both interesting and maybe even inspiring.

Oh, and I love that the book included pictures - it's so rare that we see inside some of these amazing buildings!

Thanks for being on the tour!

Fallon said...

I literally just finished talking with my boyfriend about how amazing God is when it comes to prayer. Thanks for sharing this book, I hadn't heard of it before :)