Friday, September 22, 2017

A Year of Living Prayerfully - Jared Brock

A Year of Living Prayerfully
Title: A Year of Living Prayerfully: How a Curious Traveler Met the Pope, Walked on Coals, Danced with Rabbis, and Revived His Prayer Life
Author: Jared Brock
Publication Date: 2/19/15
Pages: 352
Genre: Faith / Memoir / Nonfiction
How I Found It: I can't recall.
Date Completed: 9/10/17

Summary: Brock circles the globe exploring a variety of prayer traditions and searching for depth in his own prayer life.

What I Thought: While my faith is deeply important to me, I've always struggled to maintain a consistent prayer life. Or, more likely, I'm doing pretty decent compared to the average believer but growing up in a conservative faith tradition set me up for a continually need to do better. If that's the case, it's not a bad thing. Our prayer lives shouldn't be compared to those of others. It's a way to connect deeper with the Creator and that is a highly individual thing. 

It seems like Brock is coming from much the same position I am. A desire to do more, to find more, to feel more within the confines of prayer. I so admire his journey around the world to spend time in prayer and learn from some of the great prayer warriors of Christian history. He remarks in the beginning of the book that he hopes readers can learn from his journey as he realizes such an expedition would not be practical for most (side note: how did he pay for this?!).

As an adult, I've been increasingly interested in Christian denominations other than the one in which I was raised. There's a lot of reasons for that, but, for the sake of this discussion, that hunger in me was fed with this book. Brock does not discriminate in his exploration of prayer. He touches in with denominations all over the Christian spectrum...from the Greek Orthodox to the Roman Catholics to the Pentecostal healers to the South Korean church to the Quakers. I really loved that, even in the more discouraging experiences, Brock seeks to find the lesson within each moment.

While neither the reader nor Brock ends the book's journey with a clear-cut answer on how to deepen prayer life, I think the journey speaks for itself. Brock talks a lot about how he kept coming back to the concept of silence. I know that's something I would like to do better at. I don't leave any room for silence in my life, much less my prayer life. There's something beautiful to be said for sitting in silence and waiting on God. We don't do that enough. Beyond that concept, though, I think Brock's journey is its own reward. When we pursue God, He doesn't disappoint, although He rarely appears the way we expect. 

I would love to experience Brock's journey even on a small scale. Reading about his adventures (and his amazing wife!) definitely got me thinking about ways Kevin and I can integrate spiritual searching and deepened prayer lives into our own daily existence. 

This book was challenging in the best way. It was a very easy read and definitely enjoyable to read via audiobook, as I did. For all Brock's humor and interesting stories, there's a lot to chew on and mull over long after you close the last page. 

Quote I Loved: I listened to this on audiobook, so I don't have any of them noted down. 

Rating: ★★★★☆
Will I Re-Read: Perhaps
If You Liked This, Try: Out of Sorts / Still / The Irresistible Revolution

A Reduced Review: A great challenge for those of us who wish to deepen our own prayer lives; we just can't let the journey stop at the end of the book. 

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