Making Prayer Real: Leading Jewish Spiritual Voices on Why Prayer is Difficult and What to Do About It

Making Prayer Real: Leading Jewish Spiritual Voices on Why Prayer is Difficult and What to Do About It

Mike Comins, Jewish Lights Publishing

Rabbi Mike Comins, who comes from the Reform tradition within Judaism, has gathered together more than 50 rabbis across the various “denominations” of Judaism — Orthodox, Reform, Liberal, Conservative, Renewal, Reconstructionist — and asked them to talk about prayer.

The book is divided into five parts, the largest being, “Building a prayer practice”.  It also covers such topics as “What is prayer?”, “Engaging the body”, “Listening for God”, “Blessings”, “Coping with loss” and “Discerning divinity”.

The pattern of entries is as a cameo, although when the editor turns to grief the comments are longer.

I enjoyed the entries under “Overcoming the Hebrew barrier”. It brought back memories of Melbourne University days and years of Hebrew, a musical language — well I say that now!

Or as one rabbi says: “The pure emotion comes through the vowels. The meaning is created by the consonants, which are stops.”

Comins discusses the specific problems he feels need attention: too many words, neglecting the body, prayer book trumps prayer. These could be summed up in one word: change.

He writes: “The first thing that must change if we are to transform our personal prayer lives and synagogue services is our general attitude toward prayer and our expectations of clergy.”

This is a valuable collection of thought and practice (29 pages of exercises) that many Christians will find useful and helpful.

Rex A. E. Hunt

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