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Beyond struggles with prayer

PRAYER: OUR DEEPEST LONGING

By Ronald Rolheiser, Franciscan Media, $13.95

Reviewed by Br Brian Grenier CFC

RONALD Rolheiser, an internationally renowned speaker and spiritual writer, is a Catholic priest with the Missionary Oblates of Mary Immaculate.

His weekly column, In Exile, is syndicated in more than 70 newspapers and may be accessed online.

The slim volume under review is a collection of brief reflections gathered under six headings: Struggling in Prayer, Hearing God’s Voice in Prayer, Understanding Priestly Prayer (praying liturgically for and about the world), Practicing Affective Prayer, Growing to Maturity in Prayer, and Listening to God’s Heartbeat. An appendix, Resting in God’s Presence, outlines a simple method of contemplative prayer.

The themes the author explores include: our longing for intimacy with God, misunderstandings about what constitutes true prayer, our sense of shame and inadequacy in the presence of God, our hesitancy to express our real feelings and emotions in communing with God, and cultural factors which in today’s world make a life of prayer more difficult.

Addressing the reader, Fr Rolheiser states: “These reflections are intended to help you get beyond some of your habitual struggles with prayer, so that it no longer feels as though you are simply doing some drab duty, wasting precious time, talking to a wall, entertaining yet another daydream, or simply rehashing your heartaches and headaches”.

In no sense a manual or an academic text, this book should appeal to the general reader who is seeking to add depth to his or her spiritual life. Offering a healthy combination of consolation and challenge, it could be used effectively by a parish prayer group. A free study guide is available at www.FranciscanMedia.org/guide.

Other volumes by this author, developing some of the themes of this work at greater depth, include: The Holy Longing: The Search for a Christian Spirituality and The Restless Heart: Finding Our Spiritual Home in Times of Loneliness.

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