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Becoming the Answer to Our Prayers: Prayer for Ordinary Radicals Paperback – October 3, 2008
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From Publishers Weekly
This latest publication from the new monasticism movement is the third book each for the two young Christian activist-authors, and it offers fresh insight on the well-worn topic of prayer. Some themes are repeated from earlier works, but the book deftly succeeds in drawing the reader out of the weeds of daily life and into a more spacious field. The text is structured around three New Testament prayers: the Lord's Prayer, Christ's intercessory prayer in Chapter 17 of the Gospel of John and Paul's prayer in the first chapter of Ephesians. From the very first pronoun of the familiar Lord's Prayer ("our"), the authors extract a compelling sermon on the power and centrality of community in Christian life and thought. The dominant theme--that prayer invites human beings into a partnership with God in answering prayer--is enlivened with earthy tales from the authors' own lives, wrenching stories of service and redemption from the people they know and lesser-known anecdotes from Christian history and sociology. Readers will never see prayer or community in quite the same way again. (Oct.)
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"This thoughtful treatise offers a concise taste of Bible study, prayer, and myriad church teachers." (Angelina Conti, Friends Journal, January 2010)
"We in the church are blessed by the imaginations of Claiborne, Wilson-Hartgrove, and their communities." (Gavin Dluehosh, The Covenant Companion, February 2010)
Claiborne enlists help from his long-time friend Jonathan Wilson-Hartgrove to address how prayer and activism are related. Take a small group through this book as you prepare for a summer mission opportunity. (Paul Berry, YouthWorker Journal, May/June 2009)
Claiborne and Wilson-Hartgrove, "radical" Christians who see the danger of burnout and spiritual erosion when those who tend to the marginalized fail to pursue the divine romance that is prayer. The authors use three NT prayers to move the reader outside ordinary assumptions about prayer and challenge us to a deeper relationship with Christ. (Steven Todd, YouthWorker Journal, March/April 2009)
It's both rare and refreshing to discover a new perspective on prayer. But if anyone can provide that perspective, it's Shane Claiborne and Jonathan Wilson-Hartgrove. Recommended for anyone interested in social justice, intentional communitites and the new monastics, as well as Christians who have grown beyond books on how to pray and want to learn instead how to live out the prayers they're already praying. (Marcia Ford, Faithful Reader (faithfulreader.com), March 2009)
Like these men's other books, it is another awakening (and sometimes embarrassing) reminder that the contemporary American church is not the radical social force it was called to be. (Rachel Pater, Sarcastic Lutheran (sarcasticluteran.typepad.com), March 23, 2009)
Prayer is always a difficult topic for Christians to wrap their heads around. I'd recommend the book if you like Shane or Jonathan, or more generally if you are passionate in areas of social justice and struggle to connect that with your prayer life. (Eric, Between the Trees, (wordsfromtheway.com/between-the-trees/), October 22, 2008)
Readers will never see prayer or community in quite the same way again. (Publisher's Weekly, September 15, 2008)
"Not everyone will agree with every particular detail of biblical interpretation in this book by Claiborne and Wilson-Hartgrove, but no one can deny the truth of their main argument: God is calling each and all of us to be eager agents fulfilling His purposes in the world! This book compels us passionately to ask, in the power of the Holy Spirit, 'How am I "putting legs on my prayers"?' This is a tested book and a necessary one!" (Marva J. Dawn, teaching fellow in Spiritual Theology, Regent College, Vancouver, and author of Unfettered Hope, Joy in Divine Wisdom and My Soul Waits)
"Who learns more fully about the importance of prayer than folks living in Christian community and engaged in social activism? The authors of this wonderful little book share graciously and truthfully from the spiritual wisdom they have gathered." (Christine D. Pohl, professor of social ethics, Asbury Theological Seminary, author of Making Room)
"God always raises up new and courageous voices when the church is tempted to forget its own gospel. Here are two of those voices--and two who have been made into the answer to our own fervent prayers." (Richard Rohr, O.F.M., Center for Action and Contemplation, Albuquerque, New Mexico)
"Jonathan and Shane--along with the many friends they quote and tell stories about in these pages--are on a journey together toward a bold and beautiful way of living that makes people more truly alive. As one trying hard to stay that same course, I am more than grateful to them for sharing in such clear and practical language what they have been learning along the way about prayer, about community, and about keeping faith with God and our brothers and sisters with their backs against the wall." (Bart Campolo, writer, speaker and neighborhood minister)
"Jonathan and Shane, contemplative activists, humble prophets, and sincere lovers of humanity and God, provoke a new way of understanding prayer. Avoiding the tendency to reduce prayer to 'three easy steps' or trite formulas, Jonathan and Shane press the integrity of our prayer lives by challenging us to live into our prayerfulness. Rather than suggesting prayer as wishful thinking or hopefulness wrapped around memorized bedtime recitations, Becoming the Answer to Our Prayers recovers the essence of truly prayerful life--it's the recovery of a sacrificial embodiment of our prayers. God's answer to our prayers might be as close, or as far away, as our willingness to be available as part of the solution. Jonathan and Shane make this simple truth accessible and available, inspiring us to an authentic prayer life--a life lived to answer prayers." (Christopher L. Heuertz, international director, Word Made Flesh, and author of Simple Spirituality: Learning to See God in a Broken World)
"Claiborne and Wilson-Hartgrove have slipped the bonds of the ordinary and leapt the chasm of the customary. They have stood at brightly burning bushes that for most of us just won't catch fire. This book is a small invocation which, once prayed, calls for those who thought they knew the far country to see it for the first time. The far country is not so far as we supposed: it lies vivid and visible betwen our 'our Fathers' and our 'thy will be dones.'" (Calvin Miller, Beeson Divinity School, author of The Singer and The Path of Celtic Prayer)
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"Because white congregations in America have so often intellectualized faith and individualized our relationship with God, people who are hungry for community and drawn to justice movements are usually white. So we find ourselves trying to learn how to be the people of God with one other white folks a lot of the time. the trouble with this isn't just that we end up reproducing communities marked by racial division (though this is something that troubles us deeply). We also continue to suffer the deficiencies of white theology.
"White folks are big on ideas, and we try hard to put our ideas into practice. But ideas are not what sustains us when times get hard. In our experience, it wasn't until we encountered the spiritual wisdom that black churches and charismatic Christianity possess in abundance that hope really came alive. We have much to learn from people who know struggle."
Maybe it's because I see myself so clearly in these paragraphs that it hit me so hard. We (the educated) are very good at thinking our way through this faith thing. The problem is that we have become so good at thinking about it and talking about it that we have forgotten Jesus' call to "follow me." When I'm brutally honest, I must admit that I don't know struggle. I read, write, think, and live from the comfort of middle-class privilege. Jonathan and Shane pull back the covers that I'm all too comfortable hiding beneath and expose the short-comings of my own walk with God. They do so, however, not with the callous frigidity of an outsider looking in and wagging his finger, but with the compassion and encouragement of a fellow pilgrim, seeking to encourage others along this road we are all called to travel together.