Ebook received from NetGalley in exchange for an honest review
A Rhythm of Prayer edited by Sarah Bessey, published in the UK by SPCK, released 8th February 2021
I am a firm believer that sometimes a book appears in your life right when you most need it. I joined NetGalley in December and was browsing the Non-fiction theology/Christian titles in early January and saw this book. I put in a request, and being new to the site I am always surprised when my requests are granted. With a busy start to my university term I thought it unlikely that I would have time to read it before it came out.
Then my Nan tested positive for Covid and was taken into hospital. The prognosis was poor, and I found myself unable to find the words to pray. I was nudged towards this book, sitting waiting on my Kindle app. For the first few days I managed to read one prayer or reflection, and the words resonated deeply in my soul and helped me find my way through the grief and despair that threatened to become overwhelming.
The prayers and reflections on prayer are drawn from real life, in all its beauty and confusingness. As I put my roots down deeper into the Anglican church, I am growing more familiar with the power of liturgy for when you can’t find the right words yourself. This book for me is already being incorporated into my ministry as an ordinand, and will be a resource I return to repeatedly through the course of my ministry. One of the reflections – ‘A Reminder’ by Sarah Bessey – I have already used in a church service I was leading and with my tutor group (I also heartily recommended the book on both occasions).
I love the diversity represented by the authors of the prayers. Although I believe they are all cisgendered women, they represent many different cultural backgrounds, sexualities and several are people with disabilities. They also come from a number of different church traditions, although predominantly from America and a fair number are from evangelical denominations. For me it was powerful to read these reflections from a range of different voices, whose experiences may be very different from my own, yet they resonated with me. These are also voices that are not always given enough time and space within our churches.
I really loved this book, so much so that I have already bought a hard copy. It came at a time when I really needed it, and I know I will frequently return to it and by nourished by it throughout my life and ministry.