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Six books on prayer… plus four more unusual ones.

Six Books on Prayer

Books on prayer have the funny task of getting us to stop reading them….so we can go off and pray! What’s the best book on prayer? The one that gets you on your knees I suppose. Here are some that have helped me.

Time for GodTime for God by Jacques Philippe

Philippe is a member of the Community of the Beatitudes, founded in France in 1973. He is a master preacher of retreats and called to present the Church’s traditional teaching on prayer adapted to changes in culture and language. I love his mission. Click here to purchase Time for God.

Courage to Pray by Anthony Bloom

Bloom was a Russian Orthodox archbishop (metropolitan) who had an encounter with Jesus as a young man and went on to an extraordinary life as a spiritual guide. Click here to purchase Courage to Pray.

A Prayer Primer: Igniting the Fire Within by Fr. Thomas Dubay

One of the great spiritual directors and retreat leaders of this last generation. Brilliant, holy, compassionate, disciplined, Fr. Dubay was one of my favorite interviews on spirituality. Also, once you are ready to move ahead, read his Deep Conversion, Deep Prayer. Click here to purchase A Prayer Primer: Igniting the Fire Within.

How to Pray the Dominican Way: Ten Postures, Prayers & Practices That Lead Us to God by Angelo Stagnaro

I wouldn’t begin here but as a lay Dominican I had to sneak in a family favorite from within my favorite school of spirituality. Another Dominican, Simon Tugwell’s Prayer in Practice shows how to dispose ourselves to receive the “intimacy and freedom of prayer.” His Prayer: Living with God shows how to keep company and conversation with God. Click here to purchase How to Pray the Dominican Way.

Prayer by Hans Urs von Balthasar

This is demanding, challenging and substantial. Not for beginners but full of insight from one of the 20th century’s most respected, and prolific theologians. Another theological giant, and contemporary of Balthasar is Karl Rahner who believes that prayer is foundational for theology. Theologically quite different from Balthasar, Rahner writes a worthy, popular booklet called On Prayer. Try his Encounters With Silence which is a dialogue with God prayerfully reflecting on love, knowledge, faith, obedience, everyday routines, life with our friends and neighbors, our work and vocation, and human goodness. Click here to purchase Prayer.

PrayerPrayer: Experiencing Awe and Intimacy with God by Timothy Keller

Presbyterian pastor Tim Keller, writes for believer and non-believer alike without compromising his message, pandering to the unbeliever or getting defensive about the supernatural. He’s written a great conversational book about conversation with the divine. He’s so good I’ve included him in spite of a big reservation. Keller speaks as a Reformed man of prayer. That means he knows and loves the Puritans who emphasized spiritual experience, revival, and awakenings.  But he is also critical of some contemplative prayer practices and suspicious of mysticism. For the mature reader, however, his warnings can help us discern excessive subjectivism and self-delusion. He is always respectful even in disagreement. Click here to purchase Prayer: Experience Awe and Intimacy with God by Timothy Keller.

Unusual Books on Prayer:

Prayer in America: A Spiritual History of Our Nation by James R. Moore, Jr.

This gem isn’t nearly as well known as it should be. Moore shows how Americans have prayed at key moments in our history. He doesn’t teach us to pray or create an orthodox theology of prayer. But he does remind us how history is moved along as much by prayer and worship as by economics and politics. He is shows how native American, Jewish, Hindu, Christian prayer, any prayer, any cry of the heart to God has been imprinted on the American soul. Click here to purchase Prayer in America.

The ParishThe Parish as a School of Prayer by Father Scott Traynor

Drawn from the Catechism, St. John Paul II and Pope Emeritus Benedict XVI as his primary sources, Fr. Traynor holds up with exciting clarity a vision of parish life that is ever ancient and ever new. The parish is the school, the pastor is the teacher, and the encounter between man and God—prayer—is the subject taught. Click here to purchase The Parish as a School of Prayer.

In the Presence of the Lord: The History, Theology and Psychology of Eucharistic Devotion by Fr. Benedict Groeschel

I owe Fr. Benedict a great debt and want to continue championing his work. Here is one of his least read books but one of the most profound and one he especially loved. Click here to purchase In the Presence of the Lord.

An Ignatian Introduction to Prayer: Scriptural Reflections According to the Spiritual Exercises by Fr. Timothy Gallagher

Fr. Gallagher has grown to be one of our generations most respected retreat leaders and spiritual guides.  I recommend this book for its emphasis on Scripture and the lectio divina, the prayer over Scripture. Click here to purchase An Ignatian Introduction to Prayer.

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