Juli Cragg Hilliard

Praying As Jesus Prayed

The United Methodist bishop of Iowa invited people in the state to tell stories about the importance to them of the Lord's Prayer. A former Trappist monk, now not specifically tied to any religion, found new meaning in the familiar Christian prayer as he entered "the wisdom years." Both explorations have resulted in new books aimed at different audiences.

"With Becoming Jesus' Prayer: Transforming Your Life Through the Lord's Prayer" (Pilgrim Press, Mar.), Bishop Gregory V. Palmer and co-authors Cindy M. McCalmont and Brian K. Milford, who are Methodist ministers in Iowa, used collected stories to write a book they hope will make the prayer dynamic and alive to Christians of all stripes.

"It's phenomenal to think about all the people who have said these words and the cohesiveness that it creates," said McCalmont, minister of spiritual formation and pastoral care at Collegiate United Methodist Church/​Wesley Foundation in Ames, Iowa.

"It's so familiar and easily made commonplace that we want people to feel the power of the prayer that Jesus taught his disciples. And I think that only comes from really studying and talking about it and telling stories," McCalmont said.

John Sack's "Yearning for the Father: The Lord's Prayer and the Mystic Journey" (Hohm Press, May) grew out of a spiritual journey that began about seven years ago, when he turned 60. "I was doing a lot of reading, studying. I had a journal going. At some point I thought I had accumulated a lot of information that might be good for other people too," said Sack, who lives in southern Oregon and wrote the novel "The Franciscan Conspiracy" (Riverwood Books, 2005).

Sack studied as a young man under Thomas Merton in Kentucky, and later spent time in a Hindu ashram in India. He views the Lord's Prayer as "a kind of a road map for the whole spiritual journey," useful for anyone. "Even though I'm writing about the preeminently Christian prayer, I try to bring in a lot of other mystical traditions as well," Sack said. Hohm is aiming the book at individuals interested in contemplative prayer and at contemplative prayer groups, particularly those with Catholic Church connections.

Another book looks at a meditative prayer that invokes the power of Jesus's name. "On the Prayer of Jesus," published this month by Ibis and distributed by Red Wheel Weiser, is based on the 19th-century Russian Orthodox Bishop Ignatius Brianchaninov's translated writings for fellow priests. The book focuses on the ancient words interpreted in English as "Jesus Christ, Son of God, have mercy upon me, a sinner."

"It's a reaction to the fundamentalism that's going on. I think it's important to get back to Jesus' message," said Valerie Cooper, managing editor at Ibis parent Nicolas-Hays Inc. "We're trying to reach people who are practicing Christianity and want to find a method they can practice on their own to reach gnosis, to have an experience with God."

Selected Works

Sarasota Herald-Tribune May 6, 2008
Religion BookLine April 9, 2008
Publishers Weekly Oct. 15, 2007
Publishers Weekly, May 21, 2007
Religion BookLine, May 2, 2007
Sarasota Herald-Tribune, Feb. 16, 2007
Religion BookLine, Dec. 13, 2006
Manatee magazine, Winter 2006
Sarasota Herald-Tribune, Sept. 14, 2006
Style magazine, Sept. 10, 2006
Religion BookLine, Aug. 30, 2006
Manatee magazine, Aug. 7, 2006
Manatee magazine, Aug. 7, 2006
Manatee magazine, Aug. 7, 2006
Religion BookLine, July 19, 2006
Sarasota Herald-Tribune, June 15, 2006
Religion BookLine, June 7, 2006
Publishers Weekly, May 22, 2006
Manatee magazine, April 24, 2006
Sarasota Herald-Tribune, April 22, 2006
PW Religion Bookline, March 29, 2006
Publishers Weekly, March 27, 2006
PW Religion BookLine, March 22, 2006
Sarasota Herald-Tribune, Feb. 3, 2006
Sarasota Herald-Tribune, Dec. 9, 2005
Sarasota Herald-Tribune, Dec. 9, 2005
Publishers Weekly, Aug. 29, 2005
Beliefnet, Nov. 28, 2005
PW Religion Bookline, Aug. 3, 2005
Gulfcoast Healthy Living, July 2005
Publishers Weekly, July 25, 2005
Sarasota Herald-Tribune, July 22, 2005
Publishers Weekly, May 23, 2005
Publishers Weekly May 23, 2005
Gulfcoast Healthy Living, May 2005
Publishers Weekly March 28, 2005
Publishers Weekly Nov. 15, 2004
Publishers Weekly, Aug. 23, 2004
Publishers Weekly, May 24, 2004
Religion News Service, April 16, 2003
Publishers Weekly, March 24, 2003
Publishers Weekly, Oct. 10, 2003
Publishers Weekly, February 10, 2003
Religion News Service, Nov. 25, 2002
Religion News Service, March 27, 2002
Religion News Service, Jan. 3, 2002