Into Great Silence – A clip from this film is used in the Prayer Eleven for Explorers course. I doubt there would be many people who were inclined to watch the full 164 minutes of this film. I did, but then I hadn’t checked beforehand how long it was. 164 minutes in which almost nothing happens! Great scenery though….and a useful illustration of what it means to take silence seriously!
Prayer: Does it make any difference? – I like almost all Philip Yancey books, and this is no exception. Yancey has a way of writing that doesn’t make you feel bad if you feel your prayer life is not up to much. If you haven’t read it give it a go.
Favourite quote: “I remembered reading the account of a spiritual seeker who interrupted a busy life to spend a few days in a monastery. ‘I hope your stay is a blessed one,’ said the monk who showed the visitor to his cell. ‘If you need anything, let us know and we’ll teach you how to live without it.'”
Reaching for the Invisible God – Another Philip Yancey book. Probably my favourite. Had a big impact on me when I did my first eight day silent/guided retreat. I wasn’t supposed to read books but I got permission to read this one.
Favourite quote (and there are many to pick from): “I want us to see ourselves as a well, out of which flows God’s living water to heal and refresh others. If we desire for that to happen more, then we need to make our well deeper by becoming greater men and women of prayer.”
Soul Survivor – Another Philip Yancey book. This has got lots of mini biographies of people who inspired Philip Yancey in his early Christian life, and they’re not all Christian! Here’s a quote I rather like from his biog of Mahatma Gandhi: “From his experiments, Gandhi found that the process of spending less money and acquiring fewer possessions simplified his life and gave him inner peace. In addition, it allowed him to identify more closely with the poor people he often represented in court. Over time, he winnowed his material possessions down to these: eyeglasses, a watch, sandals, a book of songs, a bowl.”
Celebration of Discipline – This is the book that got me started on the whole ‘spirituality’ thing! Before this book I didn’t think there was much a Christian could do to grow spiritually other than go to church on Sunday, read the Bible for ten minutes and then throw in a few prayer requests to God. After reading this book I was hungry for more. His chapter on fasting has been really useful, and the chapter on simplicity is also very good. He then wrote a book called Freedom of Simplicity, which was also good.
Streams of Living Water – A friend of mine leant me this book and I just devoured it. Had to buy my own copy. Foster brings to life the different traditions of Christianity, with stories of significant individuals who personified each tradition. In particular, I found the mini biography of St Anthony very challenging. Favourite quote, “[St Paul] knew how to discern the movements of the Spirit, and he knew how to work in cooperation with those movements. That knowledge produced a spirit-empowered life.”
Prayer: Finding the heart’s true home – I couldn’t really leave this book out of my reviews as it was key to me coming up with the first Prayer Eleven course. For me, the difference between this book on prayer and any others I have read is that I constantly felt I wanted to put the book down and do some praying. Anyway, it’s the course book for the Explorers in Prayer course. Favourite quote, “We will discover that by praying we learn to pray.”
Spirituality for Extroverts – Written by Nancy Reeves. I can’t say it’s a great book, but then it’s written for extroverts and I’m more inclined towards being an introvert. But It did spark off quite a few ideas for modifying my Explorers in Prayer course. This may be the only Christian book on this theme around, so for that, at least, it deserves a mention. Favourite quote, “Any intentional activity that turns our awareness more fully to the divine is a spiritual practice.”
From Wild Man to Wise Man – Written by Richard Rohr. It’s a selection of essays on male spirituality. His writing is always interesting! Favourite quote, “We have chosen Jonah emerging from the belly of the whale as our logo…because grief and darkness are at the heart of authentic men’s work…teaching men how to trust their time in the belly of the whale, how to stay there without needing to fix, to control or even to fully understand it, and to wait until God spits you up on a new shore. It is called ‘liminal space,’ and I believe all in-depth transformation takes place inside of liminal space.”
Listening to God – Written by Joyce Huggett. I seldom read a book more than once – life is too short! But I’ve made an exception with this book. This is about the clearest and most easily accessible books on the subject of listening to God as you will find. It’s also a great introduction to the subject of Christian Spirituality. Favourite quote, “The aim of the discussion was to encourage each person to explain to the others the methods of prayer which have proved beneficial to them. The monk listened, nodding and smiling from time to time, but not speaking. Towards the end of the discussion we invited him to divulge the secret of his prayer life. His reply was to haunt me for weeks. ‘Oh,’ he replied, his eyes twinkling merrily as he spoke, ‘I find that a rather difficult assignment. You see, most of my praying these days is done in silence.’”