Another book on prayer? But don’t Christians already know how to pray? And would a non-Christian, a pre-Christian be interested in a book about a typical Christian practice? The short answers are as follows: Yes. No. Yes.
There are a lot of different ways to write about prayer, depending on your intended audience, and the purpose of your book. And when it comes down to it, a lot of Christians don’t really know much about prayer, or how to pray, other than to recite from memory prayers that they learned as a child for church, meals, and bedtime. And there are a lot of people out there searching for something, without even knowing what, and many of them will turn to prayer even though they might reject the idea of organized religion.
And those are just some of the reasons that Sherry Harney’s book Praying with Eyes Wide Open: A Life-Changing Way to Talk with God (Baker Books, 2017) is well worth the read. Sherry challenges some of the things that I grew up thinking about prayer. There were prayers at meal time, prayers at bedtime, and prayers for church. And prayers were said in a reverential pose: head bowed, eyes closed, and hands folded. And here’s Sherry, suggesting that it’s alright to keep your eyes open, that God won’t be offended; and yes, some of those scripture passages that suggest we pray at all times and in all circumstances are not just for shock value, these God-breathed words say exactly what God meant to say.
The book is divided into 4 sections, teaching us to pray with eyes, ears, hearts and lives wide open. Each chapter of each section includes prayer techniques that the author has learned to use throughout the years, including, in many cases the stories of how she learned those techniques. Quite often Harney offers examples of how those prayers have been answered, and there is also a practical aspect. She closes each chapter with a short segment called “Your Prayer Journey” in which she assigns a specific task for the reader to practice during the week.
Whether you’re new at prayer, or have been at it for a long time, there’s something for everyone in this book. Highly recommended.
I received a copy of the book from BakerBooks in exchange for an unbiased review.