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"Our own physical body possesses a wisdom which we who inhabit the body lack.
We give it orders which make no sense. "  - Henry Miller
Two Book Reviews PDF Print E-mail
Two Book Reviews
by Susan Hagemann

How Do You Pray?

edited by Celeste Yacoboni


The Way We Pray

by Maggie Oman Shannon

How Do You Pray, edited by Celeste Yacoboni, and The Way We Pray, by Maggie Oman Shannon, are books that are deeply linked by their underlying intention. Like two trees growing side by side, with interconnected root systems and interpenetrating branching, each offers a unique exploration of prayer —one from the individual’s perspective, the other from a cultural one—and both illuminate and nurture the understanding and expression of this foundational spiritual practice.   

Ms. Yacoboni’s book contains the answers to the question “How do you pray?” from a wide variety of spiritual teachers and practitioners, artists, writers, teachers, healers, activists and counselors. These are responses from individuals for whom prayer is an important and consistent part of their lives. The diversity, lyricism, and passion contained here are thought-provoking and possibly life-changing.
A few examples:

“The first thing I do when I wake up is to get on my knees and kiss the ground. I give thanks to God for another day, ask for the protection of my elders of my path, and sit in prayer. I put the Earth in my heart and ask that during the day, I will be her eyes and
ears … .”

“The best thing I can do is just sit there and let God love me … .”

“In my tradition, whatever you say is a prayer that you send out, because sound is a powerful force that brings the hidden to light, and when you pray, something is going to say Yes … .”   

“I have a set of thirteen musical instruments, which are thirteen prayers. I make my own musical instruments, searching for sounds that bring me closer to the Sacred. And what is prayer? That which allows you to come closer to the Sacred, to come closer to its inner part.”

The 129 responses contained in this book inspire the examination of one’s current prayer practices and offer ways of deepening and enriching them.

Maggie Oman Shannon’s book gives the reader something of a global tour of prayer practices. Going in alphabetical order, Ms. Shannon gives a brief, but pithy, explanation of both more familiar approaches  (creating altars, labyrinth-walking and fasting) to those that may be considered a bit more unusual, such as creating despachos (gratitude offerings) and god boxes, making treasure maps of your soul’s spiritual journey, and using prayer wheels. At the end of each of the 50 prayer practices described, she offers very practical and enticing “Suggestions for Beginning the Exploration,” helping the reader to further delve into the practice in an individualized way.

These books are quiet but potent invitations to examine, enhance and strengthen one’s relationship with prayer and, therefore, the Sacred. Reading either of them during this time of the year can help transform and revitalize one’s spiritual path.  

Both can be purchased from, or ordered through, our local new or used bookstores.

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