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Book Review: Teach Us to Pray (a Cowley Classic) by Andre Louf

by Peter Menkin  
1/18/2009 / Book Reviews

Beautiful book on prayer and the heart:

This is a lovely book on prayer and the heart. The copy I own is by a different publisher, and I purchased it used for what is probably a pretty good sum. Not like $50, but still for a used book this was a harder to find one. It was worth the money to me, and I sometimes go back to it from time to time.

Usually, I don't quote from the very beginning of a book, but this from the introduction, right at the start, tells a lot about the title:

"The purpose of this short book is to do just a little to appease the hunger for prayer; a hunger to be found here, there and everywhere in these days."

The subtitle of the Darton, longman and Todd publisher's version that I own now was owned previously by a nun. I found that worthwhile and interesting, especially since she had marked up various lines with a yellow marker. They may not have always been my choice, but I liked hers and it added an additional dimension to the reading of the book translated by Hubert Hoskins.

The book is a personal testimony by the author, a former monastery Abbot and a man of the heart and other matters. Is this also a book of the psyche, I think so, for it asks the reader to go places in prayer and to know he or she can approach God in this manner. Here is one of those highlightings by my previous book owner, and I think she's chosen a good quote from the part on cosmic prayer:

"That you have become a free human being, that your heart has begun to live and to sing, that the word of God is able to reverberate freely and frankly in your inmost centre, is a source of light and power for anyone."

There are other dimensions to prayer one uncovers in this book, and I was so moved by the work as to be inspired to write a poem. Here is the poem:

Mr. de Wolf's hope...
Peter Menkin

Something awakened
his heart,
becoming inner chamber,
place of prayer.

Who could know, even
when it occurred
aware of this--
striving with the spirit,
not striving with the spirit.

How could one know?
Mr. de Wolf became
a knowing man of prayer
in Church. Later he
reflects, that was
my hope.

That we come to know something of God is a matter of approachability of God, and the book is encouraging in this matter. What does prayer do. According to Andre Louf, "It cleanses people and thingss. It lays their deep centre bare; and in so doing prayer restores and heals the creation...every prayer is always related with blessing; and it will normally overflow into eucharistia, thanksgiving."

Here are some of the quotes highlighted by my unknown previous owner of the used book, "Teach Us to Pray."

"The living spirit of God is the fount of prayer in us."

"Deep within Jesus, the Will of the Father was at one with His most fervent longing to pray."

"...this meeting between the Word and the heart of a man is of one cannot say how much greater importance."

There is a discussion of the Psalms in this beautiful book, and I say beautiful because of the topics and the manner of handling. One gets the unwritten idea that God loves us and that he is generous, and forgiving, that we can enter into private and public prayer with Him. The Psalms are for public prayer, and also "For many faithful people they are a source of inspiration and the means of nurturing their silent, interior prayer."

For the religious man or woman this worthwhile book will be a lovely addition to a private library or sharing with a friend. Though a little expensive because it is harder to find, it is worth the money to many especially one who has an interest in religious reading and reading about prayer. I have given the book five stars. I recommend this small book, mine about 107 pages and know you, too, may find yourself returning to it from time to time.

--Peter Menkin

Peter Menkin, an aspiring poet, lives in Mill Valley, CA USA where he writes poetry. He is an Oblate of Immaculate Heart Hermitage, Big Sur, CA and that means he is a Camaldoli Benedictine. He is 64 years of age as of 2010.

Copyright Peter Menkin

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