Archive for category Prayer book
I know, doesn’t quite have the broad cultural reach of the Oscars or Grammys but if you want to know what is worth reading (largely in Christian publishing), you need to check out Byron Borger’s Hearts and Minds blog and the Best Books Awards. Byron is a bookstore owner in Pennsylvania and all-round book lover. He’s a judicious voice on Christian books worth paying attention and money for.
And I just found out that my book, Seeking God’s Face, was given the nod for Best Devotional Book (a tie with a devotional book for those on the journey through cancer).
No little statue for my mantel but nice kudos nonetheless. You can check out Byron’s Best Books of 2012 list here.
The publisher of my book Seeking God’s Face is offering a smokin’ hot deal. Only one more day left – the deal shuts down tomorrow but you can order them here right now at Faith Alive. Avoid sweating through the malls in a heavy winter coat and get a fine resource that will keep giving through til 2025 – what’s not to like about it.
Today begins the Christian season of Advent and here are a few words of introduction to Advent from my book Seeking God’s Face:
Advent (from the Latin adventus, meaning “coming” or “arrival”) is the four-week season of preparation for the coming of Jesus at Christmas. A good celebration requires proper preparation for us to fully enjoy it. During December, however, we mostly confuse helpful readiness for the hustle of Christmas shopping, parties, and preparations. The Advent season, more reflective in nature, can feel out of sync with all this noise and busyness.
John the Baptist has always felt like the right person to get me ready for Christmas—he’s the anti-Santa needed for our day. Trade the jolly laugh for an in-your-face intensity, the twinkle in the eye for a wildness about to interrupt your life, commanding our attention but always redirecting it towards Jesus. “Prepare the way for the Lord” is the Advent call to get ready for the coming Messiah.
But how do you prepare for a surprise? More than just remembering Christ’s first arrival, Advent hopes for Christ’s second coming. Advent is a season of expectant waiting, tapping into the sense we have that all is not well, the longing for the world to be made right again. It’s a season for restless hearts and people weary of a broken world who want, with all our being, to know there’s more than this.
Advent cultivates in us a discerning eye, helping us to spot the sin that clutters our lives and notice all the ways we need to be saved. By helping us to hope intensely for restoration, to feel our own need to be saved, Advent prepares us for genuine Christmas joy and faith in the One who saves us from our sin, Jesus.
I was recently invited by Mel and Susan Finlay to do two interviews on the Christian TV program 100 Huntley St. Mel and Susan are really fine people and lead in a superb ministry of prayer for Canadian leaders – you can read more about it here. Instead of heckling or whining about our leaders, they want to simply follow the biblical injunction to pray for those in authority over us and are calling followers of Jesus to do that in non-partisan ways. No fussing about specific issues or wrangling over party lines, just loving our leaders because that’s the Jesus way. I love their conciliatory spirit and approach.
They’ve also taken a shine to my book Seeking God’s Face and recently interviewed me alongside an assortment of other Canadian leaders (I feel really humbled to be in that sort of company). Below are two links to the interviews I did with them, if you want to check them out.
They were fun interviews to do – very grateful for the opportunity and the new friendship with them.
Being the faithful servant of my publisher, Faith Alive, let me pass along details of a deal they have going on right now.
Faith Alive, the publisher of my book Seeking God’s Face, is holding a give-away of some really fine resources including five free copies of Seeking God’s Face (but, hey, the Kindle Fire would be a sweet thing to have too. And all the other books it comes loaded with I would highly recommend).
Of course you know there is no free lunch so here’s the offer – “Sign up for Faith Alive News and get free email updates from Faith Alive about ministry tools that can help you as you live and serve. If you sign up by February 9 you’ll be entered to win a Kindle Fire and other Faith Alive product! Sign up today at FaithAliveResources.org/News or Facebook.com/FaithAlive. One winner will receive a Kindle Fire loaded with the eBooks for 150, Leaving Egypt, and The Day Metallica Came to Church. In addition, we’ll be giving away 5 copies of Seeking God’s Face.”
You can sign up by clicking on this link http://eepurl.com/bEPo
And if you think this post an author’s crass, brazen, consumeristic self-promotion, well check out this blog post by John Stackhouse on the realities of book publishing and author royalties. He writes:
And how can I so shamelessly tout my own books? Because the terms of my contracts mean I make virtually no money from their sales. On a twenty-dollar book, I think I make one. It might be a little more or less in each case. I don’t know exactly, because I do know it’s too small to bother remembering. But it’s something like that.
Ever notice how most authors have day jobs? This is why. You have to be selling at the level of the pop star writers to make even a middle-class living. Most of us write because we feel we have been given something helpful to say that we’re excited to share, and low royalties keep us nicely focused.
So knock yourselves out! Get that free shipping! Support good publishers and, if you can, good bookstores! Improve the lives of everyone you know!
Just don’t worry that I’m trying to make myself rich. If I am, I’ve picked a stupid way to do it…
The ancient practice of praying the daily office was radically ahead of its time, anticipating the transient, mobile world we now inhabit.
The practice of communal prayer happened mostly through Sunday worship and often in a mid-week prayer meeting. The mid-week practice is largely rusting away, largely a victim of a variety of factors, certainly including our highly mobile lives. We’re less local, less quick to cross town to get to that location for a prayer meeting (and isn’t part of the reluctance to publicly pray with others our discomfort about doing something rather personal and intimate with others around, a performance anxiety of sorts). And so the good practice of praying in community suffers a setback.
But here’s the genius of praying the daily office, the “slightly ahead of its time” element. Praying the daily office is a way to “be together when you’re not together,” perfect for a virtual, highly mobile society (and it provides an accessible way to pray with others for all those who are really uncomfortable doing that in the same room). When you pray a daily office, you do so on your own. But then think of this: if others are praying the same prayers, in a beautiful way you are connected to a praying community that transcends space and time.
I recently spoke with a friend who told me that his wife was using Seeking God’s Face as a way of staying connected with God and her far-flung group of friends. Her circle of friends spans several North American time zones and so they decided to pray the book together as a way of “being together when we’re not together.”
This was one of the dreams I imagined as I wrote and compiled the book – people gathered in prayer, not necessarily in the same room but together over the same scriptures, united in saying the same prayers, together forming one community of prayer. I know of several churches who are making this a community-wide practice, groups of friends, clusters of missional leaders, or even denominational boards who are finding themselves together in prayer through the daily office. I’d love to link all these groups together to let them know they are connected in a wider community of prayer.
Who knew that this ancient practice of prayer could provide such a meaningful contemporary venue of unity and community so needed in a mobile, transient world. A community of faith in constant prayer – together in prayer, when we’re not together in person.
So let me invite you to join in this community of prayer for the season of Advent (which begins this Sunday). You can check out the Seeking God’s Face page on Facebook, where the publisher will be posting daily excerpts from the book – you can find the Facebook page here. Or better yet, pick up a copy for yourself. There’s a crazy good sale going on right now at Faith Alive – and free shipping to boot. (and if you think this is an author’s crass, brazen, consumeristic self-promotion, check out this blog post by another author on the realities of book publishing and author royalties).
One of the church communities using Seeking God’s Face as a communal spiritual practice is New Hope Church in Calgary, AB. Earlier this year, one of their pastors, Heather Cowie, talked about praying the daily office and, specifically, using Seeking God’s Face as a church-wide spiritual practice – you can watch it below.
One of the lovely surprises of having a book published is watching where it turns up, who is reading it and how it is connecting with people.
There’s a prison ministry at Ionia Correctional Facility in Michigan that is using my daily prayerbook Seeking God’s Face. The chaplain, Richard Rienstra writes that the book is being used by the community (Celebration Fellowship) both inside and outside the prison. He says “The brothers are reading the book during “the count” of the inmates when they return to their cells for the “census.” The book is serving the “outside” partner-members as they are reading the same Scripture passages and uniting in similar prayers with one another. The “inside church” is living out its vision “to strive to be a worshipping community that glorifies God through the preaching of the word and liturgy so that worshippers may be inspired to transform all of life into worship…so that we become disciples of love, faith, hope, integrity and servant-hood in order to identify our gifts and exercise our calling.”
Check out this story of a returning citizen (former inmate) from Celebration Fellowship who is using the book along with others in his prison community. Sweet!
Or check out blogger John Sutton’s post here about his experience with Seeking God’s Face.