One of the great illusions about prayer is that you have to abstract yourself on your own from everything that really matters to you, light up a few tea lights, engage a soapy “spiritual” gear and hope for the best. Many would like to enrich their praying lives, in a way, but suspect they’ll never manage.
What we all need is a bit of encouragement and a few pointers that engage us where we are.
Fr William Mills is rector of an Orthodox parish in Charlotte, NC. His 30 Day Retreat, billed as “a personal guide to spiritual renewal” is a tool to get you going on Lectio Divina using a few minutes each day spread over a month. He takes well known Bible passages from the gospels and Paul, and invites the reader to slow down, chew over them and reflect. Each section ends with some practical questions and follow up Bible reading. This book could work very well for a group that read daily, whose members kept some personal notebooks, and met weekly like a book club.
Fr Mills’ approach is practical rather than narrowly academic, but its author does happen also to be an a professor of philosophy of religon. His experience with students gives extra resonance to his rather homsepun comment. Written by an Orthodox priest, published by a Roman Catholic publishing house, this book is broad guage classic Christianity rather than anything narrowly denominational. As a get-you-going guide for groups or individuals who want to explore well-known Scriptures as a Spiritual resource, what you see is very much what you get. There are some helpfully surprising questions, though, for a book aimed foursquare at Christian believers — “what irritates you about Jesus?” for example. The book should prove a significant help for those suffering from what the author calls Dusty Bible Syndrome, as well as people who’ve not engaged with Scripture as spiritual reading as much as they would like.