Books affirm making meditation, spiritual growth, goals for Lent

By on March 1, 2000

INDIVIDUAL spiritual growth has always been an “assumed” part of Christian life, (I sometimes think we belong to “The Church of the Basic Assumption”) and too often taken for granted. Both within and outside the Christian church there has been an increasing interest in spirituality in the past few years.

The message of these four books affirms the belief that we need to make spiritual growth, meditation, and an awareness of the presence of God a goal for Lent and for life. The first pair could be used for either private or group meditation.

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Follow Me is really what the author claims it to be in her introduction and by Marion Bets in her foreword: “a meditative worship resource that can be used by individuals and by groups.” The choice of centring worship passages and prayers, the theme pages and Scripture readings, will work well with any reader. To top it off, the illustrations alone are worth the price.

[pullquote]A Place Apart could be “personal, pointed, and professional questions, challenges, and confrontations on living the kingdom.” It is a well worked out series of situations and readings that bring the reader back to two basic questions: “Whose kingdom is it anyway?” and “Do you just want to talk about it or do you really want to do something about it?” Both questions are valid, needed and too often left unasked in the church today.

The next two books have basically the same message but a completely different approach. Both were written by and for people who find themselves so busy living their own lives they suddenly realize the need for “the practice of the presence of God.”

God Help Me is a book of daily or theme-centred prayers which appear to have been developed out of the author’s own experience. They could be used daily as a person leaves the house or starts the car. They are honest reactions to normal situations. The language is not always suitable for someone of my conservative age, but very normal for today’s younger working woman (eg. “p****d off” in the prayer on page 151). It is the kind of book to give to someone who has everything but still has needs to be expressed. It is a book to pick up – glance at – put down – and then have God nudge you to remind you of His presence later in the day.

Dance Lessons is a spiritual autobiography of a talented woman in the pressure cooker of this age. She shares her outgoing personal battle with God’s “presences and absences,” with her church and her career, with her hopes and fears, and above all with her personal test of belief and unbelief. Her story – which we all share in parts – is full of humour and anger, chaos and order, teaching and learning, all revolving in a way around the presence of God and the question of God’s reality and importance. This easy to read book would make a good Lenten gift for a busy (and harried) friend.

Betty Gracie is a clergy wife, founder and past director of the Anglican Fellowship of Prayer (Canada) and a well-known speaker and teacher about prayer, Scripture study and spiritual discipline.

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