Book Review: Beginning to Pray

Beginning to Pray is a wonderful little book that is simple to read and opens up a world of prayer that is a beautiful encounter with God. Met. Bloom writes very complex ideas into truly simple and wonderful language. There is a sense that Met. Bloom truly knows what it means to pray. The following link will give more info about Met. Bloom.

It is difficult to summarize so much that the book presents. In fact, there are so many nuggets of truth, I imagine multiple readings over time would enhance its value. Here are several things that were especially meaningful to me as I read the book.

1. Prayer is not formulaic or ritualistic. By this I mean, that prayer is not some magic incantation that forces God to behave for us. It is an encounter and a relationship (26). Bloom makes this clear by saying that it can not be forced by us for there is nothing that we can do to make God interact with us. We want God to react and respond to our cries but he has much more justification to complain at our lack of response to Him.
2. Prayer is a relationship of love. This becomes true for us through the beatitude of poverty. All that we possess is a gift from God, and we possess nothing that we can keep. Every gift is a sign of God’s love; holding onto possession takes us out of the realm of love (39-42).
3. Prayer turns inward. The inward journey of prayer is not a journey into myself but through myself toward God (46). It is a risk to go inward, because you strip away those things that you thought were real, this throws one into a crisis that only God can fill.
4. Stirrings of the heart teach us to pray. The prayers of the church teach us to pray, and Bloom gives excellent guidance in applying these to our lives. Whenever a prayer of the Church touches us deeply and stirs us, we should grab hold of this, learn it, pray it and live it.
5. Prayer must be lived. Words of prayer are words of commitment to God. Bloom makes an interesting statement that Christ is not going to be crucified for us every day, there is a moment that we must take up our own cross. When we speak to God we must be willing to live and commit to what we say.

This text is so simple but has the power to transform your prayer life. In the words of the Fathers: "A Theologian is one who truly prays."
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