About This Blog

Wednesday, October 1, 2014

"Mercy and Melons: Praying the Alphabets" (Lisa Nichols Hickman)

TITLE: Mercy & Melons: Praying the Alphabet
AUTHOR: Lisa Nichols Hickman
PUBLISHER: Nashville, TN: Abingdon Press, 2014, (208 pages).

Many people believe wholeheartedly that prayer is important. Some memorize the Lord's Prayer. Others religiously go through set times of prayer. Some pray through the Bible, while others pray with personal concerns in mind. What about the ancients? How do they pray? In the Old Testament, the Hebrew people often pray using a system that is easy to remember. One such method is acrostic structure, just like Psalm 119 which are all laid out according to the Hebrew alphabets. That way, people can remember with ease and to pray with systematic convenience. In our Western culture, we often use literary devices such as acronyms, alliterations, assonance, or other ways in which to remember how and what to pray. Sometimes, all we need is a way to trigger and bring out our prayers. For author Lisa Nichols Hickman, it is about praying the English Alphabet, to let them become "prompts for prayer." She works through each alphabet creatively looking not only at how the letter spawns a thought or an object, but also how the alphabet is a metaphor for life. Like the letter "A" in which she notices the ascend on one side and a descend down the other. She keeps an open eye on how each alphabet links not only what we see but also what we hear. Like a spiritual thesaurus, concordance, and dictionary, she lets her flow of thought weaves in daily occurrences with biblical references; normal activities with ancient events; contemplating the present and at the same time anticipating the future.

I was curious about how M eventually became the title of this book. Why of all the 26 alphabets did Hickman decides upon using M? It turns out that it was simply an "earworm" she was having where the words simply remained in her head so much that even when she walked, the "melons and mercy become the rhythms" of her feet. Be warned that this "earworm" can creep into readers too. Toward the end, Hickman gives us several more suggestions on how to begin to pray more creatively. Lest readers misunderstand, this is not a book about techniques or methods. It is simply a way to spur prayer moments by using the simplest circumstances available to us. It may not be a like Brother Lawrence's Practice of the Presence of God. Neither is it a prayer manual like the Anglican Church's Book of Prayer. It is also not a book that describes the particulars of prayer and praying like Andrew Murray or Richard Foster. It is simply a prayer that uses literary devices to guide one's prayer life.

For me, I find the book very refreshing and non-intrusive to our everyday lives. We should not be restricted to praying only at our rigid times or specific places, though those arrangements are good. Hickman's book is like a companion walking alongside us as we busy ourselves with our daily activities. By using the letters as prompt pointers, Hickman shows us how we can disentangle ourselves from the complicated essays of life, not to be sidelined by the paragraphs of our life plans nor the sentences of our work. We can learn not to be saddled with the demands of words and where to place our punctuation marks. Instead, we are encouraged to go back all the way to the first alphabet, to begin with a clean slate. That is precisely what many people would need in a busy, multitasking, and easily distracted world. Maybe, this book is more than mercy and melons. It is grace and gentleness. I suppose if the author decides to write another book of the same theme, she can easily come up with another series of alphabets and words. That is what prayer is. It is creative, refreshing, and very life-giving because prayer is not about a series of words or what to say. It is also about listening to the voice of God and learning know when to speak and when to remain silent.

Rating: 4.5 stars of 5.


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

No comments:

Post a Comment