Wednesday, December 8, 2010

Light for the Journey: Morning and Evening Prayers for Living Into God's World @msa @ChristineSine

This post is part of my series on prayer booksI received a complimentary review copy of this book without a requirement or expectation of a positive review.

Christine Sine, the author of Light for the Journey: Morning and Evening Prayers for Living Into God's World, along with her husband, is the Executive Director of Mustard Seed Associates, an intentional Christian community that extends worldwide to try to live out the Gospel and transform the world and future "one mustard seed at a time." It's a great organization, which I particularly like because of its focus on Celtic Christianity, so I was excited to review Sine's prayer book.

Like some of the other books in this review series, the introduction is particularly powerful and sets the stage well for a powerful engagement with the prayers and devotions. The mission of MSA is immediately evident in the introduction of the book, laying the foundation for the purpose of this prayer book:

I believe that we need to regain our focus. God’s grand plan is not for war and violence with an end-times cataclysm of death and destruction, but rather a renewal of the earth and all its creatures and the restoration of the abundance, mutual concern and love of God’s original creation. (p. 10)

I love this focus not just on contemplation or avoidance of sin, but true renewal of ourselves and the world. It takes great intention to be renewal-minded. And I agree with Sine that God's "grand plan" is for "a renewal of the earth and all its creatures." Being focused on a particular goal helps makes this prayer book more coherent than many, which can definitely be a benefit. As I often advocate on this blog, Sine asserts that "our faith should not be a passive expression of our love for God, but rather an active participation in God’s work to
change our world" (p. 21). Having this kind of excellent foundation makes this prayer book particularly helpful and focused on not just passive contemplation, but meditation with a focus on transforming ourselves to go out again and be active in the world. And that is good.

Further, Sine has a healthy and biblical view of the Gospel, stating, "The good news of the gospel is that we don’t need to wait to see God’s wholeness come into being" (p. 15). So often we assume things will change later and miss out on the transformation going on right now. And so often we forget that we can be a part of that change and transformation.

Sine also states that a central purpose of the prayer book, like many other similar tomes, is to help us gain a rhythm of life that is focused on God. She says it so beautifully that I have to share her words:
In order to move our devotional life beyond its chronic randomness, we need life rhythms that intentionally renew our hope in God’s kingdom vision and connect us to the essential foundations of our faith. Only then can the Holy Spirit work to shape how we allocate time and use resources with God’s priorities in mind. (p. 14)
The prayer book is divided into a rhythm of seven days, with a daily theme. The daily devotions are not short, but they are meaningful. Sine also suggests using one of the themes per week, focusing the whole week on a theme rather than a single day. I like the flexibility of the work, being able to adapt it to each individual's needs.

Additionally, this prayer book can easily be used in both an individual or group setting, which adds to its flexibility. It's definitely one I want to continue using personally.

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