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22 of 22 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars A Help In Opening Ourselves To God
Henri Nouwen had a great ability to take something rather simple and ordinary, and use it a as way to help people understand and experience God. Nouwen's now classic book WITH OPEN HANDS is an excellent example of using a simple image to invite a person to prayer and a deeper experience of God. Clenched fists demonstrate being closed to God, and through reflections on...
Published on January 18, 2004 by Timothy Kearney

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43 of 56 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars revolutionary stillness in upheaval
I must admit that I bought this book because it didn't cost much. As is usual with me, I was short on funds one day when I stopped by the local bookstore to get some coffee. I decided to get lunch and something to read to go with my coffee. I can be picky; and on this particular day I felt no desire to wade through the usual rhetoric of one of the national newspapers...So...
Published on December 14, 2000 by NotATameLion


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22 of 22 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars A Help In Opening Ourselves To God, January 18, 2004
By 
Timothy Kearney (Haverhill, MA United States) - See all my reviews
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Henri Nouwen had a great ability to take something rather simple and ordinary, and use it a as way to help people understand and experience God. Nouwen's now classic book WITH OPEN HANDS is an excellent example of using a simple image to invite a person to prayer and a deeper experience of God. Clenched fists demonstrate being closed to God, and through reflections on prayer: silence, acceptance, hope, compassion, and prophetic criticism, Nouwen invites us to open our hands and thus, be open to God. This work is excellent for people who are new to prayer or are trying to discover new prayer techniques, but it is profound enough to help all people experience God.
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19 of 21 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Life explained, June 14, 2001
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This review is from: With Open Hands (Paperback)
Nouwen's book not only opens the hands but the mind and the heart as well.
This is a book that does not define or explain prayer or give you a formula for better prayer, it is book that opens your hands and leads you to an experience with God. It is a book that one does not read but rather live. A book that leaves you slightly exhausted at the end but better for having read it.
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43 of 56 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars revolutionary stillness in upheaval, December 14, 2000
I must admit that I bought this book because it didn't cost much. As is usual with me, I was short on funds one day when I stopped by the local bookstore to get some coffee. I decided to get lunch and something to read to go with my coffee. I can be picky; and on this particular day I felt no desire to wade through the usual rhetoric of one of the national newspapers...So I went in search of a cheap paperback...and it was then that I stumbled across "With Open Hands" by Henri Nouwen.
I had read some of Nouwen's stuff before. I'd really liked some of it (the excellent "The Road to Daybreak"). Some of it had left me less than impressed (the mind-numbingly academic "Wounded Healer"). "With Open Hands" is neither excellent or poor--its actually pretty mediocre; but towards the good end of the mediocre spectrum (if there is such a thing).
"With Open Hands" bears the marks of being quite well thought out. One can tell that this book was labored over by people who cared. In fact, it is the result of Nouwen discussing the subject of prayer with a group of twenty-five theology students.
Hand imagery (clenched vs. open) dominates the book; but other undercurrents are palpably felt. Some of these noticeable undercurrents are: liberation theology, the writings of St. John of the Cross, and the idea of stillness or solitude. Nouwen, and the students he discussed prayer with, were clearly steeped in the classic literature on prayer.
The book is laid out in series of brief reflections. These are no doubt meant to be reflected upon at length. These reflections also progressively lead the reader into the next subject matter to be discussed.
"With Open Hands" is ultimately unsatisfying (as so many books on prayer are) because it spends most of its time dancing around the subject it describes. In so doing, it gives only a limited perspective on the topic. One is left feeling that some sort of suggested practical exercise or other way of letting the reader experience the subject being discussed would have strengthened the book. However, it is not without its high points or worth. Therefore, I give "With Open Hands" a heartfelt, if not ringing recommendation.
Other books on the subject of prayer that I would recommend are: Emilie Griffin's "Clinging: The Experience of Prayer"; Madame Guyon's "Experiencing the Depths of Jesus Christ"; Richard Foster's "Prayer"; and C.S. Lewis' "Letters to Malcolm, Chiefly on Prayer."
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5 of 5 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A thoughtful look at prayer, November 13, 1998
By A Customer
This review is from: With Open Hands (Paperback)
This is a beautifully written and thoughtful perspective on prayer. It opens not only the hands but the mind and the soul as well. Written such that all faiths can enjoy this wonderful writer! Those who enjoy Henri Nouwen will find this one a must read.
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11 of 15 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars A Simple Book, November 9, 2000
By 
William Krischke (Portland, OR United States) - See all my reviews
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Henri Nouwen invited twenty-five theology students to explore prayer with him, and this book is the final result of those discussions, musings, and learnings.
He starts with a defining metaphor -- tells the story of an elderly woman in a psychiatric ward, who is so hysterical she clings tightly to an old coin as if it were her very life. Her clenched fists are our clenched hearts, holding tightly to things worthless and unwilling to let the loving touch of the father heal us.
Through the rest of the book Nouwen explores how choosing to live with open hands -- to unclench and let God in to our deepest and most intimate places -- affects our lives. Open hands lead us to self-discovery, acceptance, hope, compassion, and revolution.
The way to unclench one's hands is in prayer, and so this is a book about prayer. But it is about prayer as a lifestyle of openness -- living with open hands.
The format of the book is a little strange: "chapters" are written in 1-4 paragraph chunks, as in a devotional, or reflection. But they clearly follow upon one another, and could be written together. I'm not particularly fond of the format the book is written in; It's not exactly a series of reflections.
a passage:
"And yet you are Christian only so long as you look forward to a new world, so long as you constantly pose critical questions to the society you live in, so long as you emphasize the need of conversion both for yourself and for the world, so long as you in no way let yourself become established in a situation of seeming calm, so long as you stay unsatisfied with the status quo and keep saying that a new world is yet to come. You are Christian only when you believe that you have a role to play in the realization of this new kingdom, and when you urge everyone you meet with a holy unrest to make haste so that the promise might soon be fulfilled. So long as you live as a Christian, you keep looking for a new order, a new structure, a new life." --
If you'd like to discuss this book with me, or give me your thoughts on prayer (I'm interested!) Or just chat, e-mail me at williekrischke@hotmail.com.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars helpful, February 22, 2006
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This review is from: With Open Hands (Paperback)
Henri Nouwen published many books that were very short, yet were/are quite helpful to the growing spiritual life of many. This book, a short book on the life of prayer, is quite useful at helping us open ourselves to the Holy One.

The book is really an exposition of one image-the life of prayer is a life lived with open hands. Nouwen then leads us to understand open hands are a necessity because open hands/lives mean we are not captured by fear, fear being the opposite of love, but open to God. As we open our hands to God we begin to accept the good gifts of life and live lives of hope. We are able to care for others because we are no longer focused on ourselves. This life changing power is revolutionary he says because it forces us to question the world around us and address that world.

While it would be overly reductionist to say the sum total of the book is stated above, gaining more requires lengthy reading, meditation and surrender to the image of open hands. If you want a how to book, this is not it. If you want something to help you surrender to prayer and experience prayer in its depths, this book is quite useful and I would recommend it
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5 of 6 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Two ways to live: open to love or closed, March 30, 2000
Henry Nouwen's mystic approach speaks not only to the focus group he addressed in the 1970's, but is still current today. The issues are ageless. Open to love and live "freed" or close yourself and live in fear and bondage. This book resonates with the modern mystics among us.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars With Open Hands, July 5, 2010
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Amazon Customer (LITTLE ROCK, AR, US) - See all my reviews
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Very good book. Tells of a deeper form of prayer that brings you into a new depth of relationship with the Lord. I recommend this book for any who desires to press into God in a deeper way which is not always easy but very fruitful for the one who will pay the price of silence.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Pithy, Thoughtful, Encouraging, May 7, 2010
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This review is from: With Open Hands (Paperback)
I cannot say enough good things about this book. I found it at work during Lent 2010 and read it for weeks before Easter. It gave me perspective during difficult -- if not downright harrowing -- circumstances. In several groups I'm involved with, we read it aloud and had profound discussion afterward.

I bought a number of books for gifts: baptism, ordination, birthday, pre-wedding, etc.

It's for all spiritual maturity levels, and really challenges all of us to have more meaningful prayer and inner lives of reflection.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars An Excellent Read, April 21, 2012
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This review is from: With Open Hands (Paperback)
This book, WITH OPEN HANDS is an excellent read. It has a lot of thought provoking material. It gives perspective on pray and inspiration. I keep it with me at all times to re-energize my spirit.
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With Open Hands
With Open Hands by Henri J. M. Nouwen
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