NEW YORK TIMES BESTSELLER
“A smart, wise, often side-splittingly funny master class in seeking God. Any spiritual seeker—from atheist to professional religious—will cherish this bravura tome from one of our great spiritual guides, in the lineage of C. S. Lewis, Henri Nouwen, Thomas Merton, Gandhi, and Mother Teresa. Hallelujah & amen!”—Mary Karr, author of Lit and The Liar’s Club
One of America’s most beloved spiritual leaders and the New York Times bestselling author of The Jesuit Guide to (Almost) Everything and Jesus: A Pilgrimage teaches anyone to converse with God in this comprehensive guide to prayer.
In The Jesuit Guide to (Almost) Everything, Father James Martin included a chapter on communicating with God. Now, he expands those thoughts in this profound and practical handbook. Learning to Pray explains what prayer is, what to expect from praying, how to do it, and how it can transform us when we make it a regular practice in our lives.
A trusted guide walking beside us as we navigate our unique spiritual paths, Martin lays out the different styles and traditions of prayer throughout Christian history and invites us to experiment and discover which works best to feed our soul and build intimacy with our Creator. Father Martin makes clear there is not one secret formula for praying. But like any relationship, each person can discover the best style for building an intimate relationship with God, regardless of religion or denomination. Prayer, he teaches us, is open and accessible to anyone willing to open their heart.
Jesuit priest Martin (The Jesuit Guide to (Almost) Everything) argues prayer is for people of all religious traditions and denominations in this astute work. While Martin acknowledges that prayer and similar practices can be a cathartic "way to unburden ourselves when we're feeling sad, angry, stressed, or frustrated," the goal of prayer should be to deepen one's relationship with God. By examining rote prayer, petitionary prayer, and a variety of techniques unique to his Catholic tradition, he seeks to move the reader toward "conscious conversation with God." Martin invites readers focus on the "emotions, insights, memories, desires, images, words, feelings, and mystical experiences" one might encounter while praying. When potentially knotty theologic material appears (such as the difference between apophatic and the kataphatic prayer), the author does an excellent job of explaining it in simple language. Martin does not privilege any single form of prayer over another and frames his suggestions as "practices and preferences rather than rules and regulations." He also addresses common questions such as "What happens when we don't get what we pray for?" and "What does it mean to feel' something in prayer?" Those wanting to deepen their prayer practice should take a look.