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Wednesday, October 30, 2013

Centering Prayers (Peter Traben Haas)

TITLE: Centering Prayers: A One-Year Daily Companion for Going Deeper into the Love of God
AUTHOR: Peter Traben Haas
PUBLISHER:  Brewster, MA: Paraclete Press, 2013, (304 pages).

Prayer is essentially a relationship. People who pray only when they have a need are obviously ignorant of what prayer is all about. They will be swimming in shallow waters of spirituality, getting only their feet wet in terms of spiritual growth, only to leave the pool when nothing substantial needs to be prayed for or about. When the next need arises, such people will step back into the waters. Without realizing that prayer is a relationship, such people will not venture beyond to deeper waters, and learning how to seek God and to depend on God totally. For Presbyterian minister Dr Peter Traben Haas, centering prayers are to assist people to go deeper into the love of God. A brief prayer is offered each day for a full year, all of them designed to help one cultivate this relationship with God. Each month begins with a brief spiritual meditation. January is about one being known by God. February exhorts the seeking of Truth. March is an invitation to cultivate the relationship with God. April prepares one to focus on the crucifixion, the death, and the resurrection of Christ. May reminds one about being liberated toward gracious living. June shows one the light and presence of God. July guides one toward accepting God as our spiritual companion. August teaches us to listen and practise awareness of our surroundings.  September teaches us that God is true wisdom and we ought to seek Him whenever we need wisdom. October invites one to connect with God more as the Autumn season commences. November builds trust. December tells us to wait, watch, and wonder at the marvelous love of God through Christ who dwells among us.

There are three things I like about this book. Firstly, it is the brevity of the daily prayers. It reminds me that prayers need not be long and unwieldy. Short prayers help us to remember what we pray. It allows us to focus. It allows us to use the least number of words to maximize our spiritual sensitivities.  Although on some days in which prayers are longer, the idea is simple and often centered on a main theme. Despite the additional words, readers will be able to sense that there is a big idea in each of these long prayers. Take hold of this big idea and center our prayers accordingly. Second, there is usually one single thought of God's character each day. The prayers are directed with a focus on the character of God. Rather than coming to God with a full laundry list of our requests for quail and manna, it focuses on growing the awareness of God's presence in our lives. Far too often, people pray without settling themselves down to listen. The prayers enable us to focus and listen for God's character to reflect back to us. Thirdly, each prayer is an attempt to help readers use the prayers to connect with God. This is the biggest reason to buy this book. With regular praying, one's ability to connect with God will be strengthened each day. For human beings are creatures of habit. Once they embark upon a year long program to center their prayers toward a relationship with God, their prayer life will be transformed. Indeed, when this happens, people will want to pray more and more. Then, one will no longer be contended with anything that is "pray to get" but a joy exuberant from one who "gets to pray."

Rating: 4.75 stars of 5.


This book is provided to me courtesy of Paraclete Press in exchange for an honest review. All opinions offered above are mine unless otherwise stated or implied.

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