In his book, A Year of Living Prayerfully, Jared Brock explores “man’s desire to know the mind of god.” He is humble in believing that his prayer life falls short and that there is much more knowledge to be acquired on this subject. As he embarks on a journey to far away places to learn from some of “the best” in the world, he finds that the more he learns, the more questions he has. Jared manages to keep an open mind in most situations by injecting a bit of his humor into every situation, which made learning about different prayer practices very enjoyable.
In my opinion, a book like this can be very unifying and reconciling. With a broader understanding of religious practice and a broader worldview, we can begin to humanize those who are different from ourselves, and those who seem to have what we believe to be peculiar methods of practicing Christianity. Jared paints a great picture of not only the knowledge he acquires along the way, but also how it affects his personal relationship with God, and how it can be applied to his life. He states, “Prayer is about steeping in the Spirit of God so loving that He totally changes you.”
Some of the highlights for me were funny moments, like the ones spent with Hasidic Jews in New York City. There were some scary moments, like praying in North Korea. There were some great learning moments, such as the Ignatian prayer practices he learned about in Spain. There were some beautiful lessons learned in France on sharing a common life. There were some important criticisms and realizations on American theology, as well as some questionable moneymaking practices in other countries. The last highlight I’ll mention is his personal growth and reflection.
I would recommend this book to those with an adventurous spirit, to those who wish to become a little bit more culturally competent in a light hearted way, and to those who are honest enough with themselves to acknowledge that they may not have all of the answers when it comes to religious denominations and prayer. You will learn more about Christianity and its roots. Incidentally, you will also take away some knowledge about community and have some good laughs doing so.
I received a free copy of this book from Tyndale House Publishers in exchange for an honest review. All opinions expressed are entirely my own.