Monday, July 14, 2014

Book Review: The Way of a Pilgrim and The Pilgrim Continues His Way


Talk about oldies but goodies. This book, written by a 19th century Russian peasant, focuses on how a Christian might pray constantly. Whether fact or fiction, no one knows. In fact, the author is anonymous. But he tells the story of a man who lost his home, his wife and all his material goods in a fire and then sets out on a journey to find the secret of effective prayer. He carries with him an inspirational book written by the early church fathers, the Philokalia, and discusses its content and the content of scripture related to prayer with all he meets.

Someone suggests the pilgrim pray the Jesus prayer (Lord Jesus Christ, Son of God, have mercy on me), thousands of times a day. The book not only teaches principles of prayer, which are as valid today as they were then, but does so in an entertaining way with intriguing stories. The pilgrim hears of a military officer who overcame alcoholism when a monk suggested he read a chapter of the New Testament every time he had the urge to take a drink. If he still had the urge, read a second chapter, and a third. By the time the man read through the New Testament, he was cured.

The Way of the Pilgrim includes an Appendix containing writings of the church fathers on prayer. Back matter also includes definitions, excerpts for reflection and guided discussion questions, great for book discussion groups.

This book is an excellent, easy read. It has certainly increased my awareness of how I can stay more connected to the Lord as I go about my daily tasks. The version I chose was translated by Helen Bacovcin.


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