I’ve grown to appreciate the value of pouring one’s heart out to God, but to also think of prayer beyond the one-sided reverent conversation I send out from my head and ‘heart’ into oblivion. Michael Plekon’s book Uncommon Prayer seeks to make sense of prayer beyond the explicit traditional forms we are accustomed to in private or done in public worship.
There are a set of Christian writers, poets, theologians who I trust because they are a combination of depth, clarity, and an even-handedness that produces insight. Rowan Williams is among them. And yet one need only look at this man’s majestic eyebrows to know that he is going to bring some extraordinary wisdom. You don’t get eyebrows like that without wisdom.
I first read a book on monastic spirituality almost by accident. I resonated with the sincerity in their search for God and the thirst for authenticity I saw in their words. Yet I was repelled by a way of life, an intensity of practice that seemed impossible in my own world. Sure, I could drop everything and go live in a monastery, but I had a gut feeling my then-fiancé would not appreciate that very much. I also wasn’t sure how I was going to afford my student-loan payments while living under a vow of poverty.
Yet the final and most beautiful theme of this book is something of an antidote to the poison of exclusivity. Pennington gives us glimpses into so many Orthodox scholars, priests, and monastics who see Christ within each person regardless of tradition. Pennington’s interactions and relationships with these saints is so encouraging. Here are conversations and interactions marked by love, respect, and true discipleship.