Friday, April 22, 2011

# book reviews

Mysteries of the Jesus Prayer Book Tour


Experiencing the Presence of God and a Pilgrimage to the Heart of an Ancient Spirituality
By Norris J. Chumley

For nearly two millennia, the holy men and women of Eastern Christianity have built lives of reflection, humility, and constant connection to God around a simple sentence, the Jesus Prayer. Now, Norris J. Chumley—a documentarian and professor—reveals the history, practices, and abiding wisdom of this mystical tradition to the rest of the world.
Chumley traveled to some of the early Church’s holiest sites with the Very Reverend Dr. John A. McGuckin, a priest and professor—to St. Anthony’s Monastery in the Egyptian desert and St. Catherine’s Monastery on Mount Sinai, to convents in Transylvania and to monasteries in Russia, the Ukraine, and Greece—in search of Christianity’s first mystical tradition and its modern-day practitioners. The monks and nuns he met taught him how to move through the stages of the Jesus Prayer, and how it can foster an unceasing, and everdeepening, conversation with God.
Enriched with stunning color photographs of these holy sites, where photography is rarely allowed, Mysteries of the Jesus Prayer reveals the powerful theology packed into this prayer’s few words.

This book functions as a sort of companion guide to the movie Chumley made about the Jesus prayer.  Have you watched it?  Because I haven't and after reading this book I really really want to and intend on doing so.

Lord Jesus Christ, Son of God, have mercy on me, a sinner.

This is the Jesus Prayer, known and prayed most commonly in the Orthodox Church.

When I was asked if I would be interested in participating in this book tour, I was a little hesitant, I wasn't really sure that the material would satisfy me, that it would keep me interested and reading.  First thought I had was "ancient prayers, icons, etc I really want to know?".

I'm so glad I said yes because this book has touched me and has taught me SO much.

I've said many times on my blog that I'm a visual person, I am instantly drawn to beautiful book covers and if there's photographs inside the pages, even better and this books is chock full of those.  The cover itself is stunning but the inside is littered with amazing photography of holy sites where photography is normally prohibited.

Prayer.  We all know how to pray and honestly I don't think there is a right or wrong way, but I'm one of those people have struggled with prayer for as long as I can remember.  I had this idea that it should be this extravagant and amazing speech made to God, using these big words and fancy dialogue and all it ever did for me was make me fall short because the minute I started praying, I drew a blank.  I didn't know what to say.

Just talk to God as if he is the room with you.  That's pretty easy isn't it?  Not really, because then I started getting the obstacles of starting to pray and becoming distracted, my mouth would say one thing and my mind would go to a totally different place and start thinking about other stuff, so bad that I would completely forget that I was in the middle of prayer.

This book just brought to light the fact that prayer is not about getting my way, it’s about growing more like Christ. AMEN!

Eye opener right there.

I can't say enough good things about this book and I fully intend to catch up on the documentary which is scheduled to show on local PBS stations, most of them this Easter Weekend.  You can check out the list of stations here to see when it plays for you.

To follow along with the rest of the tour, check out these awesome reviews:

Tuesday, April 12th: Joy in this Journey
Wednesday, April 13th: Oh Mandie
Thursday, April 14th: Naptime diaries
Monday, April 18th: Elizabeth Esther
Tuesday, April 19th: Mom’s Mustard Seeds
Wednesday, April 20th: O me of little faith
Thursday, April 21st: The Pilot’s Wife
Friday, April 22nd: Diary of a Stay at Home Mom
Monday, April 25th: Walking in His Grace
Tuesday, April 26th: In the Heart of My Home
Wednesday, April 27th: In a Mirror Dimly
Thursday, April 28th: My Heart’s Desire
Friday, April 29th: A Minute Captured
 TLC Book Tours provided a proof copy of this book for review purposes. All opinions are mine alone.

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