Friday 24 March 2017

A Year of Living Prayerfully - Jared Brock

A Year of Living Prayerfully:
How A Curious Traveler Met the Pope, Walked on Coals, Danced with Rabbis, and Revived His Prayer Life
Jared Brock
Tyndale House Publishers
ISBN 9781414392134
eISBN 9781496403636

This book was recommended to me by my mother-in-law. She was reading it and loving it. She was laughing out loud, laughing so hard she has to stop reading. The idea of the book I though was really intriguing, travel the world, encounter other faith traditions, focus on how they pray, and learn to find your own way into prayer. When I started the book I was very eager to follow Jared around the world and through the various traditions. And to be honest for the first few chapters the excitement stayed. But slowly it began to feel like a lot of disrespect and insincerity and my reading slowed. In fact the book took me almost a year to the day to finish reading. Each time I picked it up again I was hoping for something more in the next chapter, and with the let-down it was at times months before I gave another chapter a shot.

Now to be fair, 15-20 year ago when I was in university, involved with campus ministries this is the type of book that would have made the rounds and most people would have loved and raved about. The non-denomination, evangelicals would lap this type of book up. But with the passing of time

The chapters in the book are:

Foreword - Mark Buchanan
Author's Note
How My Journey Started
Chapter 1: Hamilton, Ontario
Chapter 2: New York City - Hasidic Jews
Chapter 3: Israel
Chapter 4: Mount Athos, Greece - Greek orthodox
Chapter 5: Italy - Meet Pope Francis
Chapter 6: Spain - Camino de Santiago
Chapter 7: France - Brother Lawrence and Taize
Chapter 8: Eastern USA - Quakers
Chapter 9: The Outer Limits  

     Benny Hinn, Tony Robbins, and Westboro Baptist Church
Chapter 10: Korea
Chapter 11: England - CIM
Chapter 12: Hamilton, Ontario - Read 60 books
An Invitation
Seven Ways to Pray

As a person with a religious studies degree, and even though I specialized in Christianity and Catholicism, I was required to take a number of courses outside my areas of focus. I have studies a number of the tradition's that Jared visited, and seems to somewhat mock, or at least not take seriously.

By the time I finished I felt that the book was like reading an Adam Sandler film, some people laugh, some people find it funny, but I just do not get the humour and it comes off more as disrespect and insincere. They only really good thing was the Seven Ways to Pray and that could have been a wallet card without all the extra padding, and even then meh. Overall the book reads like someone with time on their hands, and the means to just travel around and play at being spiritual. I believe the idea behind the book had a lot of potential but just falls flat. I can only think of one or two people I could recommend this book to, one is in campus ministry still and would be able to pull pieces from this book and put together some good talks. The other an ex-evangelical would like to read it just to tear it apart. For my part I finally made it through but sort of wish I had not made the effort. I really struggled with rating it and wish I could give it 2.5 stars out of 5, but because that is not an option err on the side of caution and give it 2. No if you are a fan of Donald Miller, or Robin Sharma, or Mark Batterson, or Rob Bell you will likely love the book so have at it.

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