Into the Deep With Prayer
Book Pick: Into the Deep: Finding Peace Through Prayer
INTO THE DEEP
Finding Peace Through Prayer
By Dan Burke
Beacon Publishing, 2016
112 pages, $24.95
Pray or your soul dies! In his new book, Into the Deep: Finding Peace Through Prayer, Dan Burke explains that prayer has the essential nutrients for life in our souls. Burke is an award-winning author. He is also the president of the Avila Foundation; founder of SpiritualDirection.com, the Avila Institute for Spiritual Formation and Divine Intimacy Radio; and executive director of the Register. He says he thrives on prayer, and his book seeks to help others to do the same.
“Prayer is far more essential to our eternal salvation than many suppose,” Burke writes. “The daily nourishment of prayer that flows out of our sacramental participation is the lifeblood of the abundant life promised to us by Jesus.”
Yet how many of us feel frustrated or incompetent when it comes to prayer?
Into the Deep offers assurance that even when it feels fruitless to pray, God is working deeply in the hearts of those who persist. Burke explains that the recognition of our need to pray is enough to begin because it is God who makes the first move.
Prayer begins with God’s desire for us, Burke explains.
He quotes the Catechism: “Christ comes to meet every human being. It is he who first seeks us and asks us for a drink. Jesus thirsts; his asking arises from the depths of God’s desire for us. Whether we realize it or not, prayer is the encounter of God’s thirst with ours. God thirsts that we may thirst for him” (2560; emphasis added).
He adds: “Prayer is the response of faith to the free promise of salvation and also a response of love to the thirst of the only Son of God (2561).”
Burke suggests taking two steps towards praying well. The first is to determine the exact promise you intend to make before God. It may seem unnecessary at first glance, yet we cannot achieve a goal we haven’t set. How can we do better if we don’t know what better looks like?
Burke encourages us to decide what exactly we want to do, such as commit to praying at a specific time for a particular length of time in hopes of deepening our relationship with God and staying true to his will.
The second step, according to Burke, is to begin. It’s simple and obvious, yet he explains that prayer is just that simple.
Old Is New Again
Into the Deep helps with the details, such as time and space, and then leads readers into the deeper waters of mental prayer.
Burke points to a prayer that can help build a strong spiritual foundation. He uses a modern name — Discovery Prayer — for an ancient but ever-new practice called lectio divina (prayerful reading of Scripture).
Burke writes, “The Discovery Prayer stands out because it has a built-in approach to prayer, which, if practiced with wisdom, will likely lead to depths of prayer and encounters with God that are life-changing.”
Mystics, monks, religious sisters, priests, deacons, laypeople and saints have practiced it for thousands of years, according to Burke.
The modern name reflects what the prayer does: “The simple reality is that if we draw near to God in prayer, we will discover his presence in our lives. We will discover his love. We will discover his peace. We will discover who we really are and our ultimate calling and purpose.”
Burke walks through the Discovery Prayer in detail, but he explains it is a matter of setting aside 10 minutes a day for Scripture: reading, reflecting, responding, resting and resolving — by becoming absorbed in God’s words.
He finishes explaining the Discovery Prayer by stating that the final step involves making a clear resolution to avoid a dangerous trap: encountering God and doing nothing in response.
Burke presents perspectives to help overcome difficulties and continue to make progress long after finishing the book.
“To the degree that we give ourselves to God in prayer, the restlessness will begin to subside,” Burke writes.
“If your heart is restless like mine, there is a path to peace and joy available to you. This path can only be found in and through prayer.”
Patti Armstrong writes
from North Dakota.
- Oct. 2-15, 2016