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Flee, Be Silent, Pray: Ancient Prayers for Anxious Christians Paperback – Illustrated, February 12, 2019
"Devoted" by Dean Koontz
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Ed Cyzewski is reaching back into the history of Christian practice to recover a contemplative tradition. If you're looking for a still point in our turning world the silence at the heart of faithful action you should read this book. --Jonathan Wilson-Hartgrove, author of Reconstructing the Gospel
From the Back Cover
- Item Weight : 7.2 ounces
- Paperback : 212 pages
- ISBN-10 : 151380426X
- ISBN-13 : 978-1513804262
- Product Dimensions : 5.2 x 0.8 x 7.9 inches
- Publisher : Herald Press; Illustrated Edition (February 12, 2019)
- Language: : English
- Best Sellers Rank: #311,686 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
- Customer Reviews:
Top reviews from the United States
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But the prayer he uses isn’t what many evangelicals (or Catholics, for that matter) are familiar with. It’s the contemplative prayer of the church fathers and the desert fathers. This is prayer that is a spiritual exercise and engagement. It is prayer that is part of a process that’s been used by Christians for more than 15 centuries.
Something old is new again.
“Flee, Be Silent, Pray: An Anxious Evangelical Finds Peace with God through Contemplative Prayer” is Cyzewski’s description and explanation of how he is deepening his faith.
The title is taken from a saying by Abba Arsenius (350-445 A.D.), also known as Arsenius the Great. He was a tutor for the Roman imperial family until he became an anchorite in the Egyptian desert, and he is particularly known for his writing on contemplative prayer. What Abba Arsenius said was this: “Flee, be silent, pray always, for these are the sources of sinlessness.”
Cyzewski walks through each of those steps, telling his own story of how he discovered and utilized contemplative prayer. One particular tool he found useful is what is called the “examen,” a process developed by St. Ignatius for prayer that both focuses and deepens.
Contemplative prayer is something that all Christians, regardless of denomination, should understand and consider.
Cyzewski struggles with his evangelical experience. His experience as an evangelical has not been my own experience; perhaps it’s because I haven’t had any experience with legalistic churches. It’s this experience that has contributed to the “anxious” part of the book’s title. But the differences in evangelical experiences doesn’t detract from the central message that contemplative prayer can be a good spiritual practice.
Cyzewski is a writer, blogger, freelancer, and book editor. He is also the author of numerous books on faith, writing, and related topics, including “Creating Space: The Case for Everyday Creativity” (2012); “Pray, Write, Grow” (2015);” The Contemplative Writer” (2016); and “Coffeehouse Theology: Reflecting on God in Everyday Life” (2016).
“Flee, Be Silent, Pray” provides a solid overview to an ancient Christian practice that is being rediscovered. And it tells a very personal story at the same time.
When I received “Flee, Be Silent, Pray”, I found myself stressing to read it in its entirety as soon as possible, so I could write a comprehensive review right away. One page in, I realized that is exactly *not* what Ed would have me do. That is the kind of humble person he is. That is how you know he stands by what he sharing in this book. The entire premise is we have an invitation to experience God in a whole new way. (“New” actually meaning… drawing from the richness and depth of spiritual practices that have been practiced for many years but have recently been drowned out or forgotten by modern day Christianity). And yet Ed is gracious in all of this. Celebrating the gifts he has received from all seasons of his spiritual life. Offering to us his own life story and practices that have helped heal and shape him.
There is a beautiful, life giving invitation to commune with God and one need not run themselves into the ground in anxious pursuit of that. Ed shares “we need more than commands, teachings, and obligations to life fruitfully as Spirit-filled followers of Jesus. We need God’s transforming love…transformation and holiness proceed out of the peace and security of that love.”
At first glance, one might think this could become license to just “sit on our laurels” or not sacrifice with spiritual disciplines or service for God. But this book invites us to understand that when we are transformed by God’s love, those very fruits WILL flow from our lives. And it will happen naturally and healthfully.
As a friend of the Cyzewski family, I can personally attest to this. For three years my family had the gift of being in a spiritual community with their family. We watched firsthand how they embodied love and health in their faith, marriage, parenting, and friendships. They were some of the first people to invite my husband and I into this new way of experiencing God and we are so thankful for that short but formative time. My family has since moved to a small rural community. One where the unofficial slogan at our local church is “Work Hard, Play Hard, Study Hard.” You can imagine what a gift (life line!) this book is to remind me that there is a beautiful and sacred way to experience God and it doesn’t need to entail totally burning myself out, or sacrificing the health of my family in that process.
As a Christian counselor, I see the effects of burnout-whether spiritual or vocational all the time. I am so thankful for this resource to share with my clients. Already I can see the palpable sense of relief when I share with them that another way is possible. My small town (and this country for that matter) is so hungry for authentic ways to encounter God’s rest, love and transformation. I can’t help but think there is there is an exciting spiritual revolution happening, with books such as “Flee, Be Silent, Pray” at the forefront. Thank you, Ed, for sharing your stories and practices with us.
I should think that this might ought to be required reading for many who are leaving the "evangelical" faith in the droves during these days. This book will be a helpful transition and guide to a better way to live the with-God life.
The only reason I didn't give it five stars is because I reserve those for C.S. Lewis, Dallas Willard, Eugene Peterson, and Henri Nouwen.
I highly recommend this book.
Top reviews from other countries
However the fact that I have been on this journey a while means that I'm not quite on the same path as Ed took into contemplative prayer, and inevitably there were quite a few other things where our journeys didn't overlap, and this left me wanting some material on how people who are not like Ed (in my case much more extroverted, British, charismatic, single) have experienced the riches of contemplative prayer. Even Ed's poor wife wasn't really mentioned - I'd love to know her perspective on living with Ed's journey, and whether she's been able to find the time to make it herself? Perhaps this is another book, but interviews with a broad spectrum of evangelicals on this subject would be fascinating - I'd love to hear whether others also find praying in tongues, and journalling helpful alongside this. Also how this style of prayer feeds into intercession for and with others, healing prayer etc