Have started a personal reading project. And book number 1 on my list was to re-read Kneeling with giants, by Gary Neal Hansen. I first read this book probably in 2014 (maybe 2013). So nearly 10 years ago. Coming back to it, was a delight.
Hansen basically takes a 1 chapter to outline a method of prayer adopted by historical Christians. He is very gracious to all of them, and looks to the best in each of them. At one point he says something to the effect: ‘if you can only learn from people who have perfect theology, you won’t end up learning from anyone’. He encourages the readers to get over any reservations and prejudgements about different methods of prayer and to jump right in and give it a go for at least a week.
Below I have made some notes on the 10 types of prayer. They are not the full extent of good points made in this book, just a handful of things which stood out from each chapter.
- Praying the Offices – having the day structured by prayer with work interspersed, rather than structured by work with prayer interspersed. I have enjoyed using an app called Lectio 365 which has largely met this prayer type.
- The Lords Prayer – The actual ‘Lord’s Prayer’ detailed in the gospels. He recommends taking each phrase in turn and using these as elements to focus on in our prayer. For each phrase consider the past (thankfulness), present (asking) and future (waiting). We can also pray each phrase over ourselves, over others and over the world.
- The Jesus Prayer – ‘Lord Jesus Christ, Son of God, have mercy on me (a sinner)’. To repeat this line over and over for a set time/number of reps.
- Studying the Psalms – He suggest three steps to doing this: 1) Study them, 2) speak them, and hold them up to speak into our lives, 3)sing them or re-phrase them. One mentor I had once, did a journalling project to re-write each of the psalms. I can’t imagine how much he got out of this project.
- Imagination – Immerse yourself in a gospel narrative. with you imagination and using the 5 senses. Then once there, ask Jesus a question and listen. In this chapter he also outlines, the Examen (evaluating our day to day life, considering ‘consolations’ and ‘desolations’ – which activities made us more aware and open to God and which shut us down).
- Practicing The Presence of God – looking to God as King, Father, Spouse, Friend, Rock etc. Then consciously choosing to be aware of Him in all of life.
- Journalling – 3 types of journalling were explained 1) Finding traces of God (in past/present circumstances, our calling, faith journey, deliverances, provision, people, answers to prayer) and then writing about them. 2) Being honest with God (about ourselves, struggles, hopes, desires, reactions et). 3) Use creation to bring us to scripture and then write about it. He uses the example of looking at a fire and finding analogies in scripture.
- Focus your attention on God – simple. Not a thinking thing, or a feeling thing, just focus on God and shut out the rest.
- Healing – be with God, make it a joyful game (don’t take it too seriously), visualise the healing process and outcome. Ask for God to heal.
- Intercession – minor steps: start small, pray locally, be specific, be biblical, watch for answers, persevere. Major steps: Commit to holiness, abide in Christ, co-work with Jesus as a priest on behalf of others.