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Ronald Rolheiser is a Roman Catholic priest and member of the missionary Oblates of Mary Immaculate. In addition to being a speaker and writer whose books are popular throughout the world and whose weekly column is carried by more than 70 papers worldwide, he is president of the Oblate School of Theology in San Antonio, Texas. In this brief but edifying paperback, the author explores prayer and its benefits in our lives. Rolheiser begins with the premise that prayer is a struggle for many contemporary people since "we live in a world that is for the most part spiritually tone-deaf, where all the goods are in the store window, digitized, or reduced to a flat-screen." In addition, we have trivialized our longing by focusing on money, success, and the benefits of materialism. Prayer can grow out of solitude, interiority, and practice. But many modern men and women claim to be so busy that they don't have time for a prayer life; they often feel uneasy with inner exploration in a culture where people spend their days skimming the surface of things instead of diving deep. Rolheiser rejoices in the idea of prayer as lifting the heart and mind to God. Part of this practice is celebrating God's presence and grace in our lives. The author salutes the importance of affective prayer—meditation, centering prayer, praying the rosary, and devotional prayers of all kinds. For him, prayer involves unity and surrender. Rolheiser suggests that maturity in prayer is signified by patience with God, the sustaining power of ritual, facing our demons, wrestling with God, overcoming anger and despair, and sensing God as our real mother.—Frederic and Mary Brussat, Spirituality and Practice
In rayer: Our Deepest Longing, Roman Catholic priest Ronald Rolheiser avoids the superficial how-to methods and focuses instead on clarifying the deep longing in the human heart for communion and intimacy with God. Using a compassionate and encouraging style, Rolheiser redirects believers’ common misconceptions and misunderstandings about prayer to the freedom, fulfillment, and necessity of spending time with the Heavenly Father. Rolheiser begins by addressing some of the cultural issues that affect attitudes about prayer. America’s fast-paced lifestyle leaves people expecting a vibrant prayer life as well, leaving a feeling of boredom when emotions and overwhelming joy do not occur. Part of the problem, Rolheiser explains, is that believers are hesitant to express their real feelings—anger, frustration, confusion, grief, or anxiety—and instead tell God what they think God wants to hear.
Rolheiser’s gentle teaching breaks down into some basic concepts. The believer should not worry about reaching some unattainable standards of righteousness before feeling worthy to pray, and openness and honesty with God is more important than trying to achieve an emotional experience. In fact, Rolheiser strongly emphasizes establishing a ritual of prayer and a consistent daily prayer time; both of which will provide the strength and foundation needed to draw nearer to God.
Although Prayer is a slim book, the guidance Rolheiser provides is meaty and scriptural. He keeps his stories and explanations on a common reader’s level and does not try to impress with lofty, pious terminology or concepts. He makes his points succinctly and clearly, slides into the next segment, and weaves the ideas together. Prayer will help readers gain a clearer picture of the importance of prayer and encourage them not to be content with just a surface relationship with God.— Jeff Friend, Foreword Reviews