I have traveled extensively around the world and lived in two other countries, and during that time, I have visited, conversed with, and worshipped alongside hundreds, maybe thousands, of other Christians.
Everywhere I have been, I have been blown away by the quality of prayer of our global brothers and sisters. In Cameroon, churches routinely held all-night prayer meetings; in Lebanon, Christians pray urgently for peace; in the United Kingdom, churches regularly get together for ecumenical prayer gatherings.
In comparison, my own prayers have sounded shallow, immature, inauthentic. They make me feel as if I am a novice in the spiritual life.
I suppose I am a novice at this thing called prayer. But I have been determined to change that.
I have been on a personal quest to go deeper in prayer over the last ten years. In the past year, the quest has become more urgent, given the shape and tenor of our national politics, as well as the events roiling the globe. I have grown increasingly weary and tired with the constant barrage of bad news, and the only thing that I have found which gives me true hope and continual succor is a deepening relationship with God in prayer.
One of the biggest steps forward in my prayer journey was the discovery of contemplative prayer. Contemplative prayer is praying without words or thoughts, as opposed to discursive prayer, which absolutely depends on words and thoughts. Everything we pray on Sunday mornings is discursive; when Ken or I lead us in prayer, we put ideas into words for the purpose of communicating with you, so that you may participate in the prayer itself and be able to say a hearty “Amen!”
But the truth is that God is beyond all words and thoughts. We cannot describe God in any human language, because God transcends all our puny attempts to constrain God’s self. Our words always fall short. Our thoughts always do an injustice to the true God.
Contemplative prayer is a way of praying in which one tries to set aside rational discourse and put oneself into a listening, receptive posture.
I have just finished writing a book about this subject, entitled, Deeper: Take Your Prayer Life to New Depths, which I am offering as this year’s Lent study. In the book I explore both discursive and contemplative prayer methods, and provide exercises in many different types of prayer.
I’ve also been enrolled in a new self-publishing course and, with the help of a book coach, I’m hoping to get a wider distribution of the book.
The book officially launches on Amazon on Sunday, Feb. 11, and for the first two days, will be offered as a free Kindle book. If you would like to be notified by email when the book is available, click here and sign up for the Pre-Release List. I’ll send you an email on the 11th with a link to download the book. (Physical copies of the book will also be available in church on that day, as well as on Amazon. But those will be sold for $10 each.)
I would love for you all to download my book at that time; this helps my ranking on the Amazon charts, and will get it in front of more people. I would also appreciate if you wrote reviews of the book, and posted them on Amazon, too.
My hope is not that I become a bestselling author for the sake of becoming a bestselling author. I want people to become better at prayer. I want us all to draw closer to God, who is the Source and Meaning of Life, who is Love and Mercy.
I want us to go deeper.