Do you long for depth and authenticity in your relationship with God? Do you want purpose and daily direction but can’t seem to find the right prayer to receive it? When the Soul Listens will guide you away from formulas and step-by-step prayer plans toward contemplative prayer, “the lifestyle that allows you to experience God’s presence,” writes author Jan Johnson. Learn to find rest and guidance in God, opening yourself to God’s presence and direction through this practical approach.
If you are disillusioned, experiencing spiritual dryness, or simply looking for the next step in your spiritual growth, When the Soul Listens offers a clear path to a fulfilling connection with God.
- Contemplative prayer is about hearing from God and resting in his care.
When The Soul Listens: Finding Rest and Direction in Contemplative Prayer was originally released in 1999 and was recently reissued. I initially felt some push back against Johnson at the beginning of the book because of emphasis against extemporaneous prayer and against written and fixed prayer. (Part of the renewal of my personal prayer life over the past decade has been finding fixed prayer and historic prayers especially using the Book of Common Prayer.) Part of her emphasis on extemporaneous prayer is based in the focus of the book on Contemplative Prayer, which tends to not be focused on fixed prayer. But also her background in Evangelicalism.
But as the book progressed, I was less bothered by the bias because of the clear wisdom about prayer in general. This is a book that I want to get in print eventually because there are so many good one line thoughts about prayer. Because I listened to the book on audio I didn’t write many of them down.
I have also started reading a second book on Contemplative Prayer, Flee, Be Silent, Pray. Both emphasize the fact that Contemplative Prayer is primarily about hearing from God and not ‘doing something’. Evangelicalism broadly tends to be overly focused on getting things done and utilitarianism. So much of what I have learned about prayer growing up and in college and seminary from the Evangelical world was about prayer as intercession, getting things done.
Contemplative Prayer is in many ways, anti-utilitarian prayer and a good corrective, although also not the whole of prayer.
(Also of note: Jan Johnson referenced Dallas Willard several times and she has written some study guides to his books. I can feel her relationship with Willard in the book. If you are a fan of Dallas Willard, this book builds on his work well.)
- Good Evangelical Introduction to Contemplative Prayer
A good evangelical introduction to Contemplative Prayer. There is lots of good wisdom about prayer here. I listened to this on audiobook but I want to pick up the print edition eventually because there are a number of good one liners about prayer.
Evangelicals tend toward utilitarianism in many of our religious practices and prayer is no different. Much of my training and teaching in prayer has been in intercession (doing something). Contemplative Prayer is essentially anti-utilitarian approach to prayer. By itself, contemplative prayer is not all of prayer. So we can't over swing to thinking of prayer as only Contemplative Prayer (which Johnson does not do). But it is an important corrective to broadening our understanding of prayer.
I thought it was a bit overly focused on extemporaneous prayer (and thereby against written and fixed prayer.) That is probably natural because of the topic and the bias of evangelicalism toward extemporaneous prayer. But that is probably my main complaint, although primarily it is a complaint of the early part of the book not the later.
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