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The image Benner creates in this book is the desire God has to bring us into constant awareness of His presence and deep communion to Him. Our lack of awareness of His nearness is due to our being fearful or otherwise unwilling to open ourselves to Him. he has already revealed His deep desire to be come near to us through His atoning sacrifice. Benner describes the practice of Lectio Divina as a discipline that will help one open to God's presence. Overall, I found this book to be quite uplifting and refreshing. It is a wonderful book for personal spiritual encouragement. It would be well suited for a small group discussion guide, or a message series on personal spiritual growth and learning to walk with the Lord. I would highly recommend it.
As long as we are stuck thinking that prayer is letting God hear a bit of our mind, we will neither experience not know the God we seek. This message unlocks the door, opening the soul to encounter what has until now seemed so elusive.
Using some of the techniques in this book has vastly improved my prayer life. You can find God speaking to you through the Word, and dig some nuggets from the Bible to use in your daily life. I highly recommend it.
If you're idea of prayer is that you bring a list of petitions to God during your morning devotions, Opening to God: Lectio Divina and Life as Prayer (2010) by David Benner may challenge your understanding of prayer. Benner, a psychologist and spiritual guide, certainly acknowledges the necessity of petitionary prayer, but in this book, he presents an extended reflection on why prayer is not just that.
Building upon the ancient practice of lectio divina (sacred reading), Benner suggests several different ways in which the Christian's prayer life may be transformed. For those unfamiliar with lectio divina, it traditionally consists of 4 movements--lectio (reading), meditatio (meditation), oratio (prayer), and contemplatio (contemplation). It was developed as a way to engage holy scripture. Benner has expanded this idea into the world of prayer. The pray-er may engage in several different practices including: prayer as attending, prayer as pondering, prayer as responding, and prayer as being. As he describes how each of these approaches may be practiced, he shatters the notion of prayer simply as supplication.
There is much to commend about this book. I think many Christians, like me, have a stunted concept of prayer. Opening to God will assuredly push your boundaries of understanding what a life of prayer can look like. On the other hand, Benner's apparent full acceptance of the contemplative tradition including "emptying ourselves" seems at times to have more connection with Eastern spirituality than with orthodox Christianity.
On the whole, I would happily commend this book for those who feel stagnant in their prayer lives and hope to grow in relationship with God.
For anyone who has felt that her or his way of praying isn't quite good enough, this is a wonderfully liberating book. The author offers a taxonomy of styles and kinds of prayer, all in the context of the idea that it is the intention of openness to God that is important, not the form. This is an encouraging gift for those experienced n the life of prayer and beginners alike.
Opening to God made me aware that really remains the same all the same all the time,but I was the one running away from God. The book reminds me that God is forgiving and remain open to unconditionally accept me the way I am. Opening to God is really about rediscovering your purpose in life.