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Gratefulness, The Heart of Prayer: An Approach to Life in Fullness Paperback – January 1, 1984

4.7 out of 5 stars 43 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews

Amazon.com Review

A member of the Calmaldolese order of monks, and well-known for his far-reaching interests in theology and science (he has explored the implications of contemporary physics with Fritjof Capra, the author of The Tao of Physics), Steindl-Rast does a wonderful job of exploring the relationship between prayer and that sense of gratefulness that comes with love, which is at the very center of what it means to be human. "To bless whatever there is, and for no other reason but simply because it is, that is what we are made for as human beings," he writes. Connecting contemplation and action, he affirms that contemplation may best be realized by "acting in love." "Thinking about God is important," he states, but "acting in God leads to a deeper knowledge. Lovers are closer to love than scholars who merely reflect on love. It would be a bit awkward to reflect on kissing while you kiss." --Doug Thorpe

From the Author

It makes me happy that, after almost two decades, this book still finds a steady stream of new readers. Now and then, I hear people who made Gratefulness their daily reading in a time of crisis, in sickness, or on their deathbed. This fills me with awe. So does that fact that groups who read and discuss books together have found this one helpful. What do I myself like about it? That it treats the main aspects of gratefulness in a systematic way, without – I hope – being dry. And I specially like the list of key words arranged from A to Z (yes, I even have one for “X”).-- Br. David Steindl-Rast, March 2002
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Product Details

  • Paperback: 240 pages
  • Publisher: Paulist Press; F First Edition edition (January 1, 1984)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0809126281
  • ISBN-13: 978-0809126286
  • Product Dimensions: 0.8 x 5.5 x 8 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.3 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.7 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (43 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #33,179 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

By Jason File on October 21, 1999
Format: Paperback
You can tell from reading this book that the author is gentle and sincere, and that his life reflects the values and insights he shares here. I first read this book around 1994, and it is the most dog-eared of my books. I have almost the whole thing underlined. By refusing to get bogged down in theoretical disputes or definitions, and instead focusing on the bone of the Christian experience (love, hope, and faith), Brother David has given us a book filled with the Holy Spirit. His exploration of the spiritual significance of being open to life's little surprises is a big surprise (I've never heard that mentioned as a Christian value before), and one which points to a spiritual life in alert response to God's constant lovingkindness. There is no doctrine or dogma here, which is why I think it will endure...and also why I keep coming back to it myself.
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One of the things I first noticed about this book on being grateful is that it has sold many thousands of copies. Mine says, on the cover, "65,000 in print." That's a kind of best seller on a subject by a monk, a contemplative, and promises along the way by its subtitle the inviting phrase, "An Approach to Life in Fullness." There is a demand for living a good life, and one way is living a life of being grateful to God and having a heart of prayer, the book's main theme.

There are probably many reasons for the numerous readers of this work, including the fact that Brother David Steindl-Rast is a kind of hero in the retreat and talking world, a feat not to be belittled, for I came to know him by a tape I found meaningful: "We Dare to Say Our Father." Brother David is a Benedictine, and I have a reading list and a source for Benedictine books from the monastery New Camaldoli, Big Sur, California which I follow religiously. So you can say, I am reading required material. This is a good thing, for this book is a required text for Christians interested in the ideas of blessing and giving thanks to God, and in coming to some understandings about prayer which Brother David says, as quoted on the back cover, "God's will be done" I agree with the back cover statement, we are dependent on God's mercy. That is a religious thing to say, and this is a book for people interested in religious topics and understandings.

I think that you will find this a book on prayerfulness, too; that is one chapter title, "Prayers and Prayerfulness." I can think about this quote for a while, good advice from a man with a sense of proportion and humor: "Are my prayers a genuine expression of my prayerfulness? Do they make me more prayerful?
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Brother David Steindl-Rice is a master of spiritual writing. I could stop there, but it would be the shortest review ever. This book is not just for religious. Br David takes one far beyond the basic levels of prayer and intercessions, taking the reader to the better realms of gratitude that teach a life to be lived in holistic fullness. While contemplation is not everyone's approach to God, this book enables an approach for people of any tradition. It is about the heart and mind and soul, alongside the realities of life - if there is any difference. I agree wholeheartedly with the dust jacket: enriching and enlightening. A must on the bookshelf of every religious/spirituality scholar - whatever your level.
(Br Graham-Michael)
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Format: Paperback
I've only read this book once through so far, and I can tell it will be a book to read again and again. On a first read, the chapter on faith and beliefs spoke to me most - I've shared Brother David's ideas about what it REALLY means to "live by every word that comes from the mouth of God" with several friends already. Great book!
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Many excellent nuggets of truth in this book but it took a re-read for me to get additional understanding. David Steindl-Rast opened my eyes and spirit to be awake and alert to the surprises in life that constantly surround us and thereby develop a spirit of gratitude. His thoughts regarding faith, hope, trust, courage, being one's true self make for excellent reading and reflection. I would definitely recommend this book but the author's depth of thought was a challenge for me. I would love to see this book used in a Book Club or classroom setting where there could be much discussion and exchange of ideas.
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This book surprised me. Brother Steindl-Rast explained such basic terms such as faith, belief, gratefulness, and prayer in new ways that were clearly understandable to my heart and mind. Though I've searched for years to understand prayer, and have not prayed in years, this book explained the essence of prayer and gratefulness, and the differences between hope and hopes, and faith and belief, that have stuck with me as I continue on my spiritual journey. A very helpful book. I just lent it out to a friend, who told me "thanks" also, for the very reasons I mentioned above.
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This book is really one of a kind. It gives comfort when you most need it. This was one of the only books I read after my husband passed away that made me feel more hopeful. The author, Br. Steindl-Rast has a spiritual sense that you can feel and its almost as if he is speaking directly to you. I have purchased several copies of this book for friends and relatives over the years and would recommend it to anyone who really wants to locate their own spirtuality.
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