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Beginner's Grace: Bringing Prayer to Life Hardcover – November 2, 2010


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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 272 pages
  • Publisher: Atria Books; First Edition edition (November 2, 2010)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1439184267
  • ISBN-13: 978-1439184264
  • Product Dimensions: 8.5 x 5.6 x 1.2 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 13.6 ounces
  • Average Customer Review: 4.6 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (30 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #877,020 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

Starred Review. Braestrup (Here If You Need Me), a Unitarian Universalist minister who serves as chaplain to the Maine Warden Service, graciously escorts true prayer into real life. In her fourth book, Braestrup approaches prayer from 24 angles, including from the threshold, in mixed company, for enemies, before service, and with laughter. She presents prayers in lyrics or without words. She understands that prayers can be posture and presence but never formulaic: "They need not be factual, but they must be true." Braestrup's voice registers in a wide range--from scholarly to deliciously earthy (she declares God a "noodge") to motherly--as she plaits a story strand about herself with a good hank of biblical exegesis, then finishes with personal ribbons, drawing material from her family (familiar from her memoir) and her friends in ministry and law enforcement. Some disquisitions, like the one on sleep, dull when compared to richer, exemplary narratives, such as her teasing chapter on hypocrisy. By often returning to her theme of empathy and consciousness, Braestrup remains a persuasive pastor, praying right through the amen. (Nov.)
(c) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved.

From Booklist

Braestrup’s book is appropriately named, particularly the subtitle. But with the author’s tendency to ask provoking, often humorous questions, one must ask, does she mean bringing prayer to life as in giving it power or bringing prayer into people’s daily lives, even the embarrassing parts? The answer is both. A Unitarian Universalist minister, Braestrup is astute, entertaining, and scholarly in suggesting prayers from myriad faiths that have served countless generations, including this one. There are prayers for almost every occasion and circumstance: shared meals, birth, death and grief, old age, bedtime for anxious children, safety for those facing daily occupational hazards, even romantic intentions. She invites people to make up their own prayers as she includes tales of frayed nerves, abiding love, and opting for generosity in settings as mundane as the Shop ’N Save. This confirms the comfort and grace afforded by prayer and its power to reveal the beauty of life, warts and all. Amen. --Susan DeGrane

More About the Author

Kate Braestrup is one of the first chaplains ever appointed to the Maine Warden Service. She is the author of a novel, "Onion," and has written for Mademoiselle, Ms., City Paper, Hope, and Law and Order. She in lives in Maine with her husband, Simon van der Ven, and their six children.

Customer Reviews

While dealing with the very deepest subjects, Kate Braestrup is laugh-out-loud funny!
J. Barsumian
I read Kate Braestrup's first book, 'Here if you Need Me' and recomend it to friends and family all the time.
St. Marys
I was looking for some spiritual direction for my prayer practice and this book was an excellent start.
Magdalene's choice

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

13 of 13 people found the following review helpful By Alicia B. Todaro on May 30, 2011
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
This book is not just for beginners, but for all of us. I have read many books about prayer that seem to claim that if we pray as the author suggests, God will listen to our prayers and we will get our desired response. This book is not one of them: Thanks be to God. Instead we can join with Ms Braestrup in our belief and doubts, our joys and sorrow, our certainty and confusion as we seek to become all that God has made us to be.

"There is the grand, beautiful, unconditional, limitless love we want to give to one another, the love that bears all things, endures all things, believeth all things, the love that sees. And then there is the stingy, shabby, nearsighted human love we find ourselves giving. The aching, immeasurable distance between one and the other can be filled only by grace. "
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9 of 10 people found the following review helpful By Maggie Keyser on December 29, 2010
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
I enjoy this author very much (Here If You Need Me and columns in womens magazines)and found this little book to be helpful in guiding my prayer life. She includes anecdotes and is not "preachy" at all. It is enjoyable reading and I will buy another copy to pass on to a friend.
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20 of 26 people found the following review helpful By DC Book Angel on October 27, 2010
Format: Hardcover
In reading this book about ways to think about how to pray, how to give thanks, and how to engage a group in common purpose, one can find their own way to understanding how prayer can be helpful, prayer practice can be improved, and how prayer can help others.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful By St. Marys on September 6, 2011
Format: Hardcover
I read Kate Braestrup's first book, 'Here if you Need Me' and recomend it to friends and family all the time. This new book has so many hidden treasures, for anyone remotely interested in the nature of prayer. It gives nearly every type of person a route into a more meditative or just thoughtful lifestyle, no matter what walk of life. I love her down to earth way of sharing her own life's journey. The salt of the earth people that she has worked with in her professional life have given her this unique gift.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful By Michelle on December 23, 2013
Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
The story in the first few pages about a mother in the hospital told to pray for her baby with no idea how to pray captured my attention and prompted me to buy this book. I was struck by Kate's story of immediately going to the hospital to provide comfort and join in prayer. I also had hope that this book would find a middle ground in offering prayers without the mystical assumption that if you did it "right" you could cure your own cancer, etc.

I was hoping for a book which: 1) provided new (nondenominational) prayers and 2) gave some inspired ideas about how to develop one's own in a powerful and connected way. I think I had envisioned a more modern Marianne Williams' Illuminata, filled with prayers but perhaps with inclusive language.

Unfortunately, the hospital story was the only part of the book that really spoke to me, and in the end, I was disappointed. I found relatively few new prayers in the book, many of which were repetitions of Bible verses. If my prayer needs were satisfied with Psalm 23 and "Now I lay me down to sleep", I wouldn't need this book. There were many more references to Biblical prayers than I'd hoped for from a Unitarian Minister, and the flow was uneven...as if there were a series of blogs thrown together. Knowing what I know now, I would not purchase this book.
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Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
I may buy Beginner's Grace for every friend and family member on their faith journeys (this may take awhile). Regardless if you have a faith or denomination - Just a joy of a book. Mrs. Braestrup writes with a friendly elegance that may just help you find your voice in grace and prayer. Peace.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful By Nina M. Osier on December 8, 2012
Format: Hardcover
Maine Warden Service Chaplain Kate Braestrup didn't learn how to pray until she had reached adulthood. Like many people raised by parents (and grandparents) of faith, I find that difficult to imagine; but I know it's a common experience, and reading her account of her own journey toward God helped me better understand how that might feel. Her prayers - this book is filled with them - I can pray with conviction! Some are quoted from traditional sources, and many are her own creations.

What particularly interested me was Braestrup's sensitivity to the spiritual needs of people who have difficulty with organized religion, especially those against whom faith has been used as a weapon. Instead of explaining why such people "ought not to feel that way," the author meets them where they are. That's her job as a chaplain for a public agency, yes; but it's also a rare and (to me, at least) wonderful thing. The book reads easily, is well organized, and does not pull punches in dealing with difficult issues. It's one I am going to keep, not pass on to a used book venue after reading once.

--Reviewed by Nina M. Osier, author of 2005 science fiction EPPIE winner "Regs"
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful By pbm on June 9, 2012
Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
Ever feel less than scholarly when reading the Bible? Kate Braestrup creates a comfort unlike any other I have read in this category. The message is clear: believe in prayer and love.
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