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A review by Bill Samuel
[This article is a review of Come Pray: A Guide to Deeper Personal & Corporate Prayer by Mary Glenn Hadley, Friends United Press, 2001, 153 pages.]
I did not come to this book from an emotional distance. I know Mary Glenn Hadley. I know she has devoted her life to Christian service. I know that prayer has been a very important part of her life. I have had her prayer support in a difficult circumstance. I have seen how she has worked with Friends to lead them to explore the possibilities of prayer in ways they would not have thought themselves comfortable with. I know that this book comes out of her own deep calling to help people, both as individuals and as corporate bodies, to have richer prayer lives.
Knowing Mary Glenn, I came to this book with certain expectations. I expected it to be deeply rooted in genuine, heartfelt Christian spirituality. I expected it to be practical, giving people tools to move forward in their prayer lives. My expectations were high. But after reading the book, I felt that my expectations were short of what the book offered. I also felt that this was not really Mary Glenn's book, but rather the work of the Holy Spirit using Mary Glenn as a willing instrument.
Prayer goes beyond just a conversation. True prayer is communion, where there is pleasure just being in the company of the other. Prayer, then, is a relationship with God. It is not a manipulation. It is talking with God and fellowshipping in each other's company. (Page 4)This is a fairly small book, but it covers many dimensions of prayer. It includes a number of different types of prayer. It includes both individual and corporate prayer. It has Reflect and Respond sections at the end of each chapter giving suggestions on putting the concepts. There are three activities outlined in some detail in the back. It also includes a list of resources for those wanting to read more about prayer.
The book is firmly rooted in scripture. It notes that, "The Bible records at least 650 definite prayers of which 450 have recorded answers." Wow! That provides a lot of material for the Christian to ponder. Mary Glenn repeatedly refers to scriptures, and explores a few Biblical prayers, including the Lord's Prayer, in some depth. She helps the scripture to come alive both by bringing the reader into the lives of the people in scripture, and by relating it to people's experiences today.
The book is suitable for people and groups at various points in their prayer lives. It will help those with little experience in prayer, wondering how to make it a real part of their lives. It will help those who have been praying for years, but feel themselves stuck. It will also help people with rich and mature prayer lives to find additional dimensions of a life of prayer. It will be of immense help to churches and meetings seeking ways to deepen their corporate prayer lives.
Come Pray will answer some questions that many of us have trouble with, and will introduce people to some prayer ideas with which many Friends are probably not familiar. What is the role of fasting in prayer? What is conversational prayer? What is prayer walking? How do we help people of different ages develop prayer lives?
The book is well suited for use by individuals, small groups and congregations. The reader will gain most from it by not rushing through it, but rather by stopping to explore its suggestions before moving on. As should be evident by now, I highly recommend this book.
Brought to TearsAs I was reading Come Pray, I kept finding tears coming to my eyes. The tears, I think, were for the missed opportunities of so many of us as individuals, and for our churches and meetings. How much could God's love and power be felt if we, individually and corporately, really developed our prayer lives - if we stepped out boldly in faith to take advantage of all that prayer has to offer? How much more alive and fruitful would our meetings and churches be? How much more impact would we have in our communities, our nations and our world? I hope Friends will take to heart what is offered in this book and find out the answers to these questions.
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