Prayer has to begin where you are, but sometimes, especially in difficult times, it can be a challenge to understand where you are or how to get “there,” “there” being that place where conversation can begin and your relationship with God flourish. Helen Lambin offers personal experiences, wisdom from a variety of religious traditions, and prayers to help you take the leap of faith. Each of Lambin’s original prayers is followed by a passage from The Message: Catholic/Ecumenical Edition. And each chapter has room for you to write your own prayers and to note your favorite Scripture passages. Themes include: exhaustion, loneliness, frustration, impatience, regret, depression, loss, disappointment, and a good helping of hope.
PRAYERS FOR DIFFICULT TIMES:
Conversations With God About Things Often Left Unsaid
by Helen Reichert Lambin
REVIEWED by Fran Salone-Pelletier
As soon as I read the first sentence of the Introduction, I knew I was in the happy company of a compatriot. Clearly, this was a woman who understands the power and pain that accompanies the process of becoming a person of prayer. Here was someone who has experienced, and continues to experience, the need to begin where we are— wherever that might be. Beginning is crucial. Begin by saying prayers and learn to become a ‘pray-er’. I was comforted by Helen Reichert Lambin’s consoling advice to pray as you can. Trust in whatever ways, words, images, or traditions one embraces. Know they are also fodder for a connected presence with the God who is.
With that motivation and goal in mind, Lambin carefully outlines various and multiple situations in which we can find ourselves at one point or another in life. Starting from where we are, she addresses a potpourri of possibilities to address difficulty in praying. Fodder for her mill are everyday situations, special cirumstances, and unique ways to begin moving forward. Having identified them, she proceeds to offer models of choices with accompanying scripture references. The reader can almost hear words from the Holy Thursday liturgy expressed by the monks at Weston Priory: “I have given you example that so you also should do.”
To prevent casual perusal without commitment, Lambin presents an invitation [perhaps a somewhat foreboding one] to put pen to work on a blank page where one’s personal response could be recorded. The nature and content of Lambin’s effort to teach the reader how to pray always and in all ways allows a range of possibilities to choose what suits, challenges, refreshes, renews, and strengthens at any given time.
This is not a book to be read page by page. It induces an initial overview to be followed by critical choice—somewhat akin to perusing a map with insets. First, one gets the general picture, the overall view of the territory to be traveled. A specific selection follows: the state of today’s ‘being’, a concentration on a particular town, perhaps neighborhood to visit or site for one to take up residence for a while.
Lambin lists these preferences as “times within times”—‘now moments’ offered as gifts for growth. Interestingly, she includes an example of growth in prayer. Using an episode from her own life, Lambin demonstrates the process in print, a prayer diary of sorts from which her transformation can be readily seen and hope thus solidified.
To assist the reader in traversing the trail and trial of prayer life, two indexes are included at the end of the book. One references prayer; the other, Scripture. These aids, coupled with the heartfelt honesty and authenticity of a prayerful, prayer-filled woman, make this small book a treasured gem. It is not a tome from which knowledge is to be extracted, although the reader will discover facts. It is the unfolding of wisdom. It is an entry into the sounds and silence discovered when one converses with God “about things often left unsaid.” It comes with only one caveat: “Begin where you are and be surprised.” I did…and was.
Fran Salone-Pelletier has a Master's degree in Theology and is the author of Awakening to God: The Sunday Readings in Our Lives [a trilogy of Scriptural meditations], Lead Chaplain at Novant Health Brunswick Medical Center, Religious educator, retreat leader, lecturer and grandmother of four. She can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org