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Praying Upside Down: A Creative Prayer Experience to Transform Your Time with God Paperback – May 1, 2015
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Praying Upside Down...conveys the message that prayer is an art form. It's beautiful, majestic, and meant to be creative--not prayer by numbers. Stanley breathes life into dull and dead prayers, revitalizing the very core of one's spiritual life. If you want to embark on a refreshed and renewed relationship with God, you need to read this book. --Josh Olds, LifeIsStory.com
Praying Upside Down is such an amazing look at not only how we pray but also why we pray. Stanley shares her own journey in such a way that is courageously uplifting and human. Every chapter is presented in terms most artists can relate to, but is so compelling, even a self-proclaimed art novice like myself can understand. I found my understanding in player elevated after this fantastic and visual read! This is a must have for all ages!--Sarah J. Schmitt, author of It's A Wonderful Death
Whether you grew up a non-believer or in a strict religious household, this is the type of book that can completely change your prayer life (especially if you never had one or feel like it is a chore). I often stumble over the writing in this type of book, but I savored every word. I completely connected with the prayer techniques that Stanley relates to art, especially symbolism. There is a reason so many authors and reviewers love this book. It is a must read! I loved it!--J.R. Roper, author of The Hunter Awakens and The Spirit of Steel
It requires no spiritual sensitivity to see God at work in a miracle, but to see God work in the everyday circumstances of our lives is another matter. Praying Upside Down gives us eyes to see and ears to hear the Divine Presence in the ordinariness of life. A spiritual primer on practicing the presence of God. (Philip Gulley, Quaker pastor and author)
I love to learn from people who are willing to let God pull back the curtain from their lives and reveal His startling perspective. Kelly O’Dell Stanley does that and invites us to see and pray through God’s right-side-up/upside-down view. (Stasi Eldredge, New York Times bestselling author of Captivating and Becoming Myself)
This book is an invitation to pray so much more richly in so many new ways. Kelly O’Dell Stanley expands our horizons about conversing with God not with more instructions but through one experience after another. If you are an artist-type, you will quickly find that she speaks your language. Even if you do not consider yourself an artist, you will be opened up to the Master Artist’s point of view, which, in Kelly’s words, “is quite a view!” (Timothy R. Botts, Calligrapher and author of Doorposts)
This book is CPR for your prayer life. Kelly’s upside-down approach to prayer is―in all the best ways―right-side up, by pointing you straight to our sovereign God. This book will help you unleash the power of heaven in a fresh, joyful, invigorating new way. (Jennifer Dukes Lee, Author of Love Idol: Letting Go of Your Need for Approval—and Seeing Yourself through God's Eyes)
In her book, Praying Upside Down, Kelly O’Dell Stanley brings something entirely new for the soul to consider: What can the elements of art teach us about faith, prayer, and God? Through personal stories on family, grief, and vocation, Kelly doesn’t introduce a new kind of praying as much as a new kind of seeing, which is what my faith really needs. This is unlike any book on prayer I’ve ever read. (Emily P. Freeman, Author of A Million Little Ways: Uncover the Art You Were Made to Live)
Like the books of Anne Lamott, so full of honest and soulful searching, Kelly Stanley’s Praying Upside Down takes as its launch pad the precepts of the Christian faith. But what is offered here can apply to anyone, regardless of their faith―or lack thereof. What this book does is offer ways to learn and practice a humble kind of self-inventory, leading to forgiveness and generosity toward others as well as toward oneself. I found Kelly’s spiritual journey compelling and her voice clear, engaging, and irresistible. (Elizabeth Berg, Author of The Handmaid and the Carpenter and The Dream Lover)
Praying Upside Down offers an invaluable antidote to the prayer life that has gone stale. We can forget the one-dimensional prayers we have been praying before bedtime all these years. Kelly O’Dell Stanley literally turns prayer on its head, transforming it into a fresh, vibrant act of creativity that refreshes the spirit. Take Kelly at her word, and you will never look at prayer the same way again. (Matt Appling, Teacher, pastor, and author of Life after Art and Plus or Minus)
Kelly does an amazing job in Praying Upside Down of drawing from her rich background in graphic design and art to offer the reader fresh perspectives on an intimate relationship with God . . . perspectives that will, I believe, make us want to pray. Each chapter is wrapped around personal stories from her own pilgrimage in prayer that demonstrate great vulnerability in asking the hard questions and will inspire confidence in the God who is always with us. Each chapter ends with very practical advice that will add vitality to and increase faith for our communion with God. I had to set the book down on several occasions and marvel at the wonder of a God who offers immediate access for us all, in every circumstance of life, and welcomes us into an intimate and dynamic relationship through Christ Jesus. (Dr. Alec Rowlands, Senior pastor, Westgate Chapel; president, Church Awakening; author of The Presence)
Prayer. It can seem so . . . burdensome, time-consuming, one-sided, and complicated with all those flowery, eloquent words that we think should be the launching pad in our conversations with God. So, we choose not to pray, going through our days mute to the One who desires to, not only hear from us, but also speak to us. But in her book Praying Upside Down Kelly O’Dell Stanley takes us by the hand and challenges and equips us to see prayer from a whole new perspective, erasing what we thought prayer to be and painting a beautiful picture of what it’s meant to be. (Jenifer Jernigan, Bible teacher and author of Dive Deeper)
In Praying Upside Down, Kelly O’Dell Stanley offers us a fresh perspective on not only our prayers, but also the God who answers them. Art has a way of moving and stretching us. Of making us consider our experiences in a new light. Stanley utilizes her first-hand knowledge of the artistic process to shine new truth on what it means to commune with God and the full spectrum of ways we can see His answers manifest in our lives, if our eyes are open. Praying Upside Down will rejuvenate any prayer life, and I believe this work is truly a gift to the body of Christ. (Sarah Kovac, Author of In Capable Arms)
As a person who has always struggled with prayer, I am so grateful for Kelly O’Dell Stanley’s fresh perspective, honest confessions, and grace-filled invitations. Prayer as a kind of art? What a beautiful concept. (Addie Zierman, Author of When We Were on Fire)
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Top Customer Reviews
When I first received the book, I was a little skeptical. There were prayer palette suggestions at the end of each chapter that seemed, on the surface, to be strange to this Baptist girl, involving different forms of journaling, and sometimes even drawing! My skeptical self almost put this book down.
However, I decided to give it a shot and I wound up captivated by this peek into the author’s prayer life. She relates examples of times when she felt like God didn’t answer her, times when God didn’t answer the way she would have liked and times when the answer seemed to be a perfect one for her life. Along the way, Stanley, who is an artist, shares different art techniques and relates each technique back to prayer, giving you multiple avenues into a fresh relationship with God.
I ended up finding this book highly relatable, and full of ways to rethink my prayer life as I move forward. This one actually ends up earning a space on my permanent shelf because I think many of the ideas with art and the prayer palette suggestions would be great for me to work through with the children that I teach the the other women I might disciple.
Disclosure: I received a complimentary copy of this book free from the publisher. Thank you!! I wasn’t required to write a positive review.
Kelly O’Dell Stanley expertly weaves these things among well researched scripture and personal stories of how she saw God move in her life, often surprising her, through diverse, innovative, and persistent prayer. Just as we learned and forgot the foundations of art in its most simple form, the ideas that Kelly shares on prayer lead us back to the foundations of what we learned about praying...those things that we learned and forgot because we complicated it along the way: Just talk to God.
Kelly’s “Prayer Palette” at the end of each chapter offers practical, fun and innovative ways to pray, and allows the reader to choose from a variety of ideas.
As I read Praying Upside Down, I felt as if Kelly was validating all the crazy ways I already pray (and doubted that I even had an active prayer life because it didn’t look “right.”). Just as there are different art forms, Praying Upside Down looks at different ways of communicating to God as methods of prayer.
This is one of the most interesting books on prayer I’ve read in a very long time, and certainly the most freeing. Kelly doesn’t preach a prescribed method of prayer; rather, she offers encouragement to the reader to find your own style. Kelly’s fresh perspective on prayer teaches us that one size doesn’t fit all. Sometimes you need to turn your prayer life upside down to find out what works best for you. Anyone who is struggling with a stale prayer life, anyone who wants a fresh perspective on prayer, and anyone who feels like they're "just not doing it right,"...this book is for you!
For the past few years, I’ve made a conscious effort to improve my prayer life. I’ve read the classics on prayer by E.M. Bounds and the modern works by a whole host of authors. But never before have I come across something so creative and perspective changing as Kelly O’Dell Stanley’s Praying Upside Down.
Part memoir, part prayer manual, Stanley roots her theology of prayer in her own life journey, drawing from real life experiences and imagery from her artist background to craft an intensely readable story that serves to model the upside down prayer life.
From a strictly definitional perspective, I would say that “praying upside down” is simply breaking out of your preconceived notions, praying big, praying hard, praying others-centric. From an artistic perspective, praying upside down is all about seeing things clearer and differently.
In any sort of copying work, artists have found that turning the original upside down helps with the accuracy of the copy. See, we know how faces go, so when we try to copy one, our rote memory takes over and ignores what’s actually in front of us. Turning the image upside down actually forces us to concentrate, forces us to see a new perspective, hence, Praying Upside Down.
Stanley uses a number of other artistic images as metaphors, such as the concept of white space (leave room for God), pointillism (seeing past the dots), the grid perspective (taking things in pieces), and more. If you’re an artist or a creative, this is going to be a fun book just for how Stanley applies these terms in a spiritual way.
Subtly, Praying Upside Down also conveys the message that prayer is an art form. It’s beautiful, majestic, and meant to be creative—not prayer by numbers. Stanley breathes life into dull and dead prayers, revitalizing the very core of one’s spiritual life. If you want to embark on a refreshed and renewed relationship with God, you need to read this book.
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