PrayerfulnessThere are several things to know about Prayerfulness, by Robert J. Wicks, up front.
First, it is a relatively small, short book. This isn't a giant tome to portion out chapter by chapter. Instead, it's meant to be carried with you, read several times, referred to when you get stuck.
Next, this is written with a very Christian focus. You are told to "Love God deeply", references to Jesus and Biblical passages abound. Non-Christians who read this should be aware of this.
Third, the book also has a focus on mindfulness and "take care of yourself". This could upset devout Christians who feel a person's path should have nothing to do with Japanese meditation gardens and looking inward.
So the book almost needs a disclaimer, so those who would be upset by its content know to review it thoroughly before purchasing.
So,that being said, what IS in the book?
The book states clearly in its introduction that people should: "Love God deeply, Do what you can for others, And, please, take good care of yourself." Seems fairly straightforward, and something that most of us should agree with wholeheartedly. Author Wicks instructs us to live what we preach. If we feel our religion or path tells us to be calm and supportive, then we should strive to BE that way every day. Practice and perfect your skills in being that way.
Create short, meaningful rituals for yourself that help you focus on your goals and keep on on your path. Be IN the moment, rather than always worried about the past or dreaming about the future. Treasure the special world you are experiencing right now. Don't be a "gargoyle on roller skates", damaging the fragile world around you. Life is precious. See and appreciate it.
Life can't always be happy. Be aware of the sadness, and know that it can bring wisdom to you if you accept and work through it.
Meditation is not just an Eastern task - many famous Christians have advocated meditation and prayer as ways to become more close to God and to find serenity. Wicks quotes a Vietnamese monk who, when asked why he meditates, replies, "I meditate to be happy. When I am in the present moment, I am happy. If I think on the past, then I am often sorry. If I think about the future, I often worry. So then I am often sorry, worry, sorry, worry, sorry, worry. But when I meditate, I am in the present, and I am happy."
Wicks talks about this being a process that requires patience. "Be the apple slowly ripening". It is about learning to understand yourself, and to understand others. For example, think about anger not in terms of who MADE you angry, but "who did I get angry with." The change is subtle but very important.
Yes, you can enjoy beautiful things, but you should not crave and obsess over them.
There's an interesting questionnaire. What do you believe robs you of your joy and peace? Do you listen to people, or are you simply waiting your turn to speak? What are your most annoying situations, and what can they teach you? When do you feel most alive?
Certainly people who meditate already will find much of this old hat. Even people who haven't meditated but who have studied Christian doctrine seriously will find this very beginner's material. But clearly the book is written for people who have not attempted meditation and who have taken a gentle approach to Christianity without delving into its more serious side. I think the book provides an easy to understand, friendly introduction for this group of people and it does offer a reading list for people to move on from here and take on the subject in more depth.
I think the book does what it set out to do, and lays the basic groundwork very admirably.
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