Prayerfulness: Awakening to the Fullness of Life
Notre Dame, IN: Sorin Books, 2009
Reviewed by Bobbie Bonk
Prayerfulness, defined by Robert J. Wicks, is “being in the present with your eyes wide open to experiencing God and life in dynamic new ways” (vi). To this description he adds the synonym of spiritual mindfulness or awareness. In Prayerfulness: Awakening to the Fullness of Life, Wicks names the “key elements of spiritual intimacy” as “loving God, doing for others and taking good care of self” (1).
The book title provides clues that praying and being in a state of prayerfulness are necessary to develop a vibrant spiritual life. Prayerfulness “requires a change in attitude and a deliberate choice to act with love” (x), and spiritual awareness helps us to deal with some of the “spiritual blinders” (x) in our lives, an effort that seems to be a lifelong commitment.
Chapters focus on creating simple rituals, honoring life’s fragility, and befriending anger and other emotions that seem negative. A list of spiritual reflection suggestions offers a sense of hope and provides goals for development in the spiritual life. For example, the “softening of our soul” (37) leads the reader to an awareness of the need for patience and compassion, not only for others but also for oneself.
In the second section of Prayerfulness, Wicks proposes a thirty-day “personal retreat” (108). The month-long endeavor is intended for people who are busy and on the run and for everyone who can take the time for a retreat away from daily life. A brief morning reflection gives the retreatant a way to enter each day, create a “spiritual nest” (108), and then, at the end of the day, fall asleep with an inspired or developed word or mantra.
Wicks shares a “spiritual mindfulness questionnaire” (147) comprised of thirty questions followed by comments about how to work with the range of possible responses. There is no right or wrong answer to any question, only an opportunity for growth and development. As a tool to look at one’s soul and decide how to use energy in developing spiritual intimacy, this is an excellent springboard for spiritual directors and spiritual directees alike.
Prayerfulness is an inviting text full of stories, engaging the reader with concrete examples of how to live with spiritual mindfulness. Practical and useful to people who lead busy lives, its gentle, mindful approach will be welcomed and offer increased spiritual vitality.
Bobbie Bonk is a pastoral associate at a Roman Catholic church in Fort Collins, Colorado, USA. She facilitates retreats, offers spiritual direction, and volunteers with inmates at the Larimer County Detention Center. By participating in workshops for adult survivors of childhood abuse led by Mary’s Hope, she enhanced her spiritual direction training from The Center for Spirituality at Work in Denver.