During October, just for fun, I thought I’d recommend one book on prayer per week. Nothing too heavy or intellectual, simply the books that never fail to motivate, inspire, and center my own prayer practice. I hope they’ll be helpful to you too. Sister Wendy on Prayer will be the first (the link will take you to an excerpt).
Sister Wendy Beckett is an active-turned-contempative nun who lives a life of total solitude (most of the time) in rural England. She’s best known for doing a series of delightful TV shows for the BBC on art history, like Sister Wendy’s Story of Painting. Despite what a wonderful scholar and teacher she is, prayer is what she really loves and what she’s devoted her life to, to the exclusion of almost everything else. And, she tells us, prayer is very simple. The simplest thing there is.
“Prayer is God’s business,” she says. Your business is just to show up and be genuine. She provides no specific instructions for prayer, since like any other relationship, it’s meant to develop naturally. There are no rules, just love that grows.
I featured a quote from Sister Wendy’s book recently in my post Prayer for a Busy Life. Basically, she’s saying if you want to pray, you’ll do it. “Do you want [a prayer life]?” she asks at another point. “Or more precisely, do you want to want it? Then you have it.” That’s what I love about her book, full of no-nonsense wisdom that will stay with you and motivate you a long time. Moreover, it’s hard not to want to pray from the way she describes it. After all, it’s been an all-consuming passion in her life.
Fans of Sister Wendy’s art history work will be pleased that the book also includes color illustrations of some of her favorite pieces of artwork and notes on how they’ve inspired her to prayer. A slim book in size but definitely a heavyweight when it comes to spiritual motivation.
Today’s 15 minutes of prayer: I lucked out and got the conference room again for my morning break. The word of the day was “compassion.” I went in wanting it for myself, but as I sat and tried to quiet my mind I became aware of the compassion God has for me, waiting so patiently for me to put aside everything else and simply be together.