How Do You Pray?
How Do You Pray? Inspiring Responses from Religious Leaders, Spiritual Guides, Healers, Activists and Other Lovers of Humanity
edited by Celeste Yacoboni
Rhinebeck, NY: Monkfish Book Publishing, 2014
Reviewed by Karen L. Erlichman
The vision and central question in How Do You Pray? came as a moment of grace to minister, spiritual coach, and healer Celeste Yacoboni, just as the sun came up one morning in 2008. Her simple question yielded an extraordinary collection from 129 spiritual teachers, guides, healers, and leaders from a multitude of spiritual voices, perspectives, and practices.
The back cover of the book entices the reader by describing the anthology as an “interspiritual prayerbook and resource guide to an emerging global spirituality which embraces our religious and spiritual diversity.” The contributors offer one to three pages of prose, liturgy, personal narrative, and poetry, as well as a smattering of visual images, that reflect, inspire, and lift up prayer. Some selections are as brief as one or two sentences, while others are a bit longer and more expansive; some are more traditional, while others are contemporary and eclectic. For example, Mariana Caplan explains, “I pray with my body. Prayer becomes deeper through action, because what I’m doing with my body is my prayer. Prayer is what I’m doing with my child, what I’m putting in my body, what I’m emitting through words, how I’m choosing to use my energy. Prayer is embodied and expresses itself through relationship and action” (105).
As I read, I found myself stopping frequently to breathe deeply, absorb, and reflect on each person’s gift of prayer. Even the detailed biographies at the end include the contributors’ personal information as well as a wealth of information, websites, and other resources. Whether reading this book in order from start to finish, or randomly choosing a selection by a beloved or unexpected contributor, you will likely find something that awakens, challenges, and enlivens your spiritual practice. Tom Pinkson writes, “Prayer to me is anything we do that opens our heart, mind and soul to the always-with-us presence of Sacred Cosmic Mystery Creator with the intention to give thanks for gifts of grace in our lives” (170).
How Do You Pray? includes writing from self-described atheists, agnostics, ordained clergy persons, spiritual teachers, and guides. This collection will appeal to “spiritual but not religious” people, spiritual seekers and practitioners, religious individuals, and a variety of faith communities.
Karen Lee Erlichman, MSS, LCSW, lives in San Francisco, California, USA, where she provides psychotherapy, spiritual direction, supervision, and mentoring. She is a cofounder of Practistry.