- Paperback: 132 pages
- Publisher: Wipf & Stock Pub (January 20, 2003)
- Language: English
- ISBN-10: 1592441378
- ISBN-13: 978-1592441372
- Product Dimensions: 5.5 x 0.3 x 8.5 inches
- Shipping Weight: 12.6 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
- Average Customer Review: 9 customer reviews
- Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,582,419 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
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Prayers Plainly Spoken: Paperback – January 20, 2003
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What makes this book of prayers so refreshing and somewhat unique is that it is completely genuine and honest. There doesn't seem to be any hint of pretense, not a shred of saying what we're supposed to say when we pray. Instead, he is brutally forthright with confusion, frustration, and even anger. I've never read a book of prayers quite like this.
My primary critique, however, is somewhat common in prayer books. There are a number of times when it seems that Hauerwas is primarily preaching through his prayers, ultimately communicating to the listener more so than God. Though he remains utterly frank in this context, it seems that he departs from the ultimate purpose of prayer, which is communication with God.
Ultimately, I am glad to have read this book. Though it could easily be read in one sitting, I chose to read it over a series of months in small chunks during a regular prayer time. Hauerwas is engaging and challenging, two descriptive words that are all too rare for prayer. I recommend "Prayers Plainly Spoken."
I disagree with the other reviewer that Hauerwas is a "self-righteous demagogue." Indeed, one would be hard pressed to advance that Hauerwas sees 11 September 2001 as the judgment of God on America. While other Christian "leaders" advanced that view, that view would be in fundamental theological contradiction to other prayers in the book.
Instead, Hauerwas is expressing his deep conviction that Christians must be peaceful people. How could one pray "Save us from our American Power" without also praying "Mercy for the War-Dead?"
Here is that prayer: "Dear Lord, at our feet lie dead Iraqis, dead Kuwaitis, dead Kurds, dead Croats, dead Slavs, dead Salvadorans, dead Americans, dead Palestinians, dead Israelis, dead Jews, dead children, dead Christians--dead, dead, dead. We ask your mercy on these war-dead sisters and brothers. We ask for the same mercy for ourselves, for our failure to be your peace, to be the end of war. Save us from the powers that capture or imagination so we think our only alternative is war. We know we cannot will our way to peace, for when we try we end up fighting wars for peace. So compel us with your love that we might be your peace, thus bringing life to this deadly world. AMEN."
What some take to be Hauerwas' bombastic approach is really a frankness that is refreshing to read. These prayers reveal a person who lives and feels (read "On the Death of a Cat") and is on the journey with the rest God's people.
From time to time my Orthodox Reformed theology bristles at his Arminian (though unevenly so), Neo-Orthodoxy. That's not the point. If you want a 'safer', more staid, noble, reformed set of prayers, get Hughes O. Old's excellent Leading in Prayer: A Workbook. But if you wnat a challenge and a laugh, Hauerwas is great.
BTW -- also a great dustjacket, a handy size, good typeface, and a nice tight binding by IVP (as usual).
The classical language of the Christian tradition is brilliantly woven in, with snippets of belly-splitting subversiveness (e.g. his prayer to the Ultimate Reality at a Duke University academic luncheon). Hauerwas' enemies may like to retitle this book "Prayers Vulgarly Spoken", but he also has a prayer for them, too!
This only gets a 4 star, because some of the other theology books I've rated are true classics (in comparison). But this does not take away from the FUN and CONVICTION that Hauerwas brings to the stuffy halls of theological reflection.