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RESOURCE: Kneeling With Giants 30th June, 2013

Posted by Scotty in Books, Discipleship, Prayer.
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kneeling with giantsBack in December I received a message from someone I didn’t really know.  I’d followed Gary Hansen on twitter or he’d followed me (which ended in following each other) and that led him to my blog (check out his blog here).  After reading my blog and seeing my blogs about prayer and various books, he offered to send me a copy of a book on prayer he’d written, in return for reviewing it on my blog.  My thought process went like this:

“Free book?  YES PLEASE!!”
Prayer? BONUS!!

I’m glad to say that like the book!  I wasn’t all that far through when I realised it wasn’t just a book on prayer, but also a great discipleship tool.  So rather than simply reviewing it, I want to recommend it to you as a great discipleship resource you can use to help you (or people you’re discipling) grow in the essential area of prayer.

I’ve read a number of books on prayer and have a couple of “go tos” that I suggest to people but none that I’ve taken a specific liking to… until now.

The aspect of the book that really sold it to me is how practical it is.

There are many books that talk about prayer without really helping you develop your prayer life.  While many books provide a new insight into prayer, often prayer books stay quite theoretical, talking about ways to prayer without helping you understand how to do it.  Kneeling with Giants provides you with both. More than the other books on prayer that I’ve read, Kneeling with Giants gets into the how, providing us with practical instruction and examples that really help you to engage each style of prayer.

The premise of the book is wise: Awareness of different styles of prayer will help keep prayer fresh over time, and give you access to new styles of prayer which can help sustain you in different seasons of your life.  The author’s hope in the book is to help you find a way to pray that you will find life-giving, since for so many people prayer can be such a struggle.  By introducing you to different styles of prayer found throughout the history of the church, hopefully you’ll discover a style that will bring new life and enjoyment to your time spent in prayer.  Gary’s clear pastoral desire to lead us deeper into the arms of God, and to equip us with tools to enhance our intimacy with Him come through the book clearly.

The book looks at ten styles of prayer.  For each one Gary Hansen explains the particular type of prayer, grounds it in Scripture and historical writings, then by using his own experiences he helps guide us in experimenting with that particular method of prayer.  Of the ten styles covered, I’d say that his chapters healing and intercession are the weakest, but they introduce you to some great writings you can jump to for more!

When I received the book back in January my thought had been to bash through the book quickly and get a blog up.  At the end of his introduction came the exhortation: “However you go through this book, the one crucial thing is to pray (p15)” and I realised that “bashing through” would not do justice to his gift!  [If you read this book without giving time to his suggestions, you’ll miss just how rich this resource is and rob yourself of some opportunities to experience God in a new way!!]

The material is rich!  Each chapter looks at the writing of a great man or woman in church history (like St Benedict, Luther, Calvin, Ignatius of Loyola, and the Puritans) and explores how they experienced prayer.  Coated with Hansen’s personal experiences, which he reflects on throughout the book, the pages take on a humble pastoral persona, like a spiritual director helping you (and challenging you) to experience deep new ways of meeting with Jesus.

This would be a good book to work through as a group study.  At the end of the book are two helpful appendices.  The first suggests ways to use the book as a small group or class curriculum, and the second is a helpful summary of suggestions for to how to practice each of the 10 styles Hansen discusses.

I’d recommend buying the e-book.  It includes a reader (that isn’t included in the paper copy) containing excerpts from the primary source texts, which he draws from throughout the book.  Though the book is a fine tool without this, the reader would add an extra element of depth through exposure to some of the writings from the history of the Church.

So… if you find prayer challenging, if your prayer times seem dull, if you’re looking for a prayer study for yourself or a group, or if you’re simply intrigued now that you realise there’s more than one way to pray, I’d highly recommend you grab a copy of Kneeling With Giants!

Thanks go to Gary for sending me such a great resource!

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