Thursday, April 10, 2014

Book Review of the Jesus Prayer by John Michael Talbot

The Jesus Prayer: A Cry for Mercy, A Path of Renewal
by John Michael Talbot
ISBN 978-0-8308-3577-5
IVP Formatio
Reviewed by Clint Walker

I first became aware of John Michael Talbot through his music. When I was growing up, his albums often graced the shelves of Christian bookstores alongside the works of Michael W. Smith and Amy Grant. Somewhere along the road of his evangelical singing career, he discovered some of the spiritual masters and ancient spiritual disciplines, and this discovery in turn led him to embrace the Catholic stream of Christian practice.

Now, Talbot ministers through music as well as with more traditional means. Based out of a hermitage in Arkansas, he travels around the world calling people to a deep, authentic, commitment to Jesus Christ as their Savior.

This book guides us into the tradition of praying the Jesus Prayer. The Jesus Prayer is from Scripture, and the most developed tradition of practicing the contemplative method of praying "Lord Jesus, have mercy on me, a sinner" as a way of deepening one's spiritual life comes from the Orthodox Tradition. I, like John Michael Talbot, have been intrigued by the book "The Way of the Pilgrim" from the Orthodox tradition.

Praying the Jesus Prayer is not easy. But it is a powerful way to learning the nature of unceasing prayer. Talbot takes the reader through the prayer word by word, deepening our understanding of what we are praying by meditating on every word in the prayer. This will help the reader be more grounded in what they are praying.

The book is short, testimonial, and powerful. I will keep in my library of spiritual formation resources for quite some time.

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