Here’s a duplicate of the book review I made on amazon.com for “Praying With the Church“:
I was privileged enough to receive a free copy of this book thanks to the generousity of Paraclete Press in a promotion on Scot McKnight’s blog. I just finished reading the book and I must say that the book was perfect at doing what it wanted to do, namely: introducing low-church Christians such as myself to the richness and depth of fixed-hour prayer.
For me, the best part of the book was McKnight’s obvious but startling revelation that Jesus would have found himself within the Jewish fixed-hour prayer tradition. There is no stronger argument for fixed-hour prayer than the fact that our Lord Himself was most certainly a practitioner of it and following Him would of course mean following Him in this practice. Again, this would be obvious to many, but for those raised outside of liturgical traditions such as myself, this is a fresh insight.
Secondly, I very much appreciated McKnight’s continual reminder that this is not a replacement for spontaneous prayer, but a wellspring for it. I currently find my prayer life devoid of much depth or meaning (or consistency for that matter) and the ability to pray along with some of the giants of the Church makes me not have to feel like praying in order to pray consistenly and well.
Probably the other most important point that McKnight raises is that praying in this manner does not necessarily lead to “vain repetitions” any more than telling your spouse that you love them continually will. This and the afforementioned points should clear away any ignorant debris that would prevent non-liturgically reared Christians such as myself from embracing this ancient and valuable practice.
McKnight concludes by walking the reader through the absolute basics of praying the main prayer books from the Orthodox, Roman Catholic and Anglican traditions in addition to the contemporary “Divine Hours” by Phyllis Tickle. The strongest advice he gives is that it would be best to find an experienced person to help you develop this practice in your life. I hope to find just such a person soon!