When the Soul Listens: Finding Rest and Direction in Contemplative Prayer by Jan Johnson
My rating: 5 of 5 stars
This is the best book on contemplative prayer I’ve read. It’s hard to imagine a better one to recommend to other Christians. It offers a clear, biblical justification for the listening, transformative kind of prayer that ought to be at the heart of every Christian’s relationship with God. It’s a very encouraging book, but it doesn’t make exaggerated claims. It carefully distinguishes a Christ centered form of prayer from other similar forms of meditation and contemplation practiced in other religions. It offers very practical help to those who desire to pray in this way. It helps the reader know what to expect, and what not to expect, and gives personal examples of the kinds of things that might happen in praying this way without being formulaic.
I have lead and participated in Christian prayer meetings for many years and have gotten the impression that, for many Christians, prayer consists mainly of asking God to do things. Petitionary prayer certainly has its place (see Knocking on Heaven’s Door: A New Testament Theology of Petitionary Prayer for an excellent biblical exposition), but if it becomes the center of our prayer life we easily fall into the attitude that God serves our own agenda. Contemplative prayer is a powerful check on this and it opens up a whole new world of possibilities for greater intimacy with God. It focuses more on finding God’s own heart and desires and aligning ours with them. This is how we get closer to God. I recommend this book very highly.
Hi Paul! After reading your recommendation, I’d really like to read Jan Johnson’s book When the Souls Listens. If you have it, maybe we could read it after you? I also looked at your other reviews and appreciated them. I clicked on the “Political” sidebar and eventually got to the Niehaus article on dying. It was excellent and I passed it on to two “old” friends.
Paul gave me this book and told me I HAD to read it. 🙂 It really is wonderfully inspiring. While I have not yet finished it, I look forward to every opportunity to read a little more of it and feel disappointed when I don’t get the time I had hoped to read. It affirms various things I have thought over the years and takes them to the next level with some explanations I never had. Great Book!