April 6, 2011

In Constant Prayer - Book Review


In Constant Prayer (Ancient Practices Series) by Robert Benson is the first book that I received through BookSneeze.

I liked this book.

In Constant Prayer is one book in a series of books called The Ancient Practices that explores many of those ancient practices of the early Christians.  This book in the series, written by Robert Benson, is meant to be a study of the practice of praying the "daily office."

If I understand it correctly, the Daily Office is the practice of praying a set number of times each day.  This practice brings to mind certain monastic settings.  Images of  monks getting up to say their morning prayers, meeting together to say their afternoon prayers, and seeing each other again to say their evening prayers before they head off to their cells.

As far as the author is concerned, Robert Benson is really a very good writer.  As I read through this book I found each page to be enticing and entertaining, but also very personal.  He opened up his life, in small ways, to reveal his desire to pray, his encounters with the daily office, and his understanding of this ancient practice.  I felt compelled, as I continued through the book, to consider taking up this particular practice.

I did find the book lacking in two specific ways.  One was a lack of specific historical examples.  He would make comments concerning the historicity of this practice, but the actual examples to validate the claim seemed to be strangely lacking.  The second area where I found this book to be lacking was in its use of scripture.  Other than at the beginning of chapters, I don't recall one Biblical quote with a reference.  There were passages that were alluded to, but the only reason I knew that was because I recognized the scripture.  Frankly, without proper historical footnotes and scriptural references, this book falls into the category of opinion.  In no way is it improper to write (or read) a book of opinions, but to really sway this particular reader, I need some validation.

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