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7732With Lent quickly approaching, and many people anticipating a season of deepened prayer, a book of fresh reflections on the Psalms is welcome. nourishment. Author Martin Shannon CJ, an Episcopal priest who lives with the Community of Jesus, offers brief reflections to accompany prayers in his Lenten guide According to Your Mercy: Praying with the Psalms from Ash Wednesday to Easter.

Jews and Christians have long used the Psalter as their daily prayer book. Fr. Shannon notes in his introduction that Athanasius of Alexandria has written of the Psalms, “I believe that the whole of human existence, both the dispositions of the soul and the movements of thought, have been measured out and encompassed in those very words of the Psalter.” These prayers are rich and invite personal encounter with the ancient words. Each reflection includes wisdom from church fathers, and at the end of the book there are ten helpful pages that answer the question, “Who are the church fathers quoted in this book?”

Paraclete Press posted an interesting author talk with Fr. Shannon on their facebook page (2/24/17). The video is about 15 minutes long and shares some of Fr. Shannon’s insights on the book of Psalms. You can view a sample from According to Your Mercy (as a pdf file) on the Paraclete Press website. The book also is available as a daily e-book subscription, which can be an excellent reminder to take time daily, even amidst the busyness of life.

It is an undeniable truth that I am drawn to books about the Psalms. Since I often turn to the Psalms for inspiration, I greatly enjoy seeing what other writers have to say about this inexhaustibly rich collection of prayers. Readers will return to this book for spiritual encouragement year after year.

 

Disclaimer: A copy of this book was provided by the publisher for review purposes and for giveaway. No fee was received.

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To inspire your prayer life in this new year, I recommend A World of Prayer: Spiritual leaders, activists, and humanitarians share their favorite prayers. Published by the consistently excellent Orbis Books, this exciting collection of over 100 prayers was edited by Rosalind Bradley. The prayers come from a breadth of religious traditions and from cultures around the globe. The collection includes favorite prayers selected by prominent people of faith, including theologians, artists, writers, musicians, and Nobel peace prize winners. It is uplifting to see Mairead Corrigan, Nelson Mandela, and Yusuf Islam gathered in one place. Each prayer is accompanied by a personal commentary or reflection.

As a small taste, I offer here one of my own favorites, written by Teresa of Avila, who lived from 1515 to 1582 in Spain. It was selected for this volume and translated by theologian James Alison.

 

Nada te turbe,                                        May nothing wind you up,

nada te espante,                                     Nothing affright you;

todo se pasa                                           Everything comes and goes

Dios no se muda                                     God, still, just there;

la paciencia                                             Through patience

todo lo alcanza;                                       All will be achieved.

quien a Dios tiene                                    If you have God,

nada le falta:                                          You lack nothing:

solo Dios basta.                                       God alone will do.

 

prayer © 2012 by Rosalind Bradley

Disclosure: No fee was received for this review.

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In the weeks preceding Christmas, many churches observe the beautiful custom of lighting Advent candles. This practice provides a beautiful way to create space for prayer in our homes during this season of anticipation. For encouragement and prayer suggestions, I recommend Lisa M. Hendey’s booklet O Radiant Dawn: 5-minute prayers around the Advent wreath. She writes of her wish that “this humble booklet can be for your family a doorway into the profound solace of a well-kept Advent.”

Time together around the Advent wreath can be a refuge, a special place to open hearts to God. This booklet also could serve as an ideal guide for individual reflection and devotions. For each day of Advent, Hendey provides an opening prayer for lighting the candles, a brief scripture, a question for reflection (including suggestions for use with younger children), and a closing prayer.

O Radiant Dawn,
splendor of eternal light, sun of justice:
Come, shine on those who dwell in darkness.

With God’s help, may we walk in light and love each day, creating sanctuaries of hope within our homes.

A copy of this booklet was provided by the publisher for review purposes. No fee was received for this review.

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