The Jesus Prayer: A Cry for Mercy, A Path of Renewal by John Michael Talbot

The Jesus Prayer: A Cry for Mercy, a Path of Renewal  by John Michael TalbotSummary: “Lord Jesus Christ, Son of God, have mercy on me, a sinner.”

It is easy to read about prayer instead of praying. But good books on prayer, when partnered with actually praying can be helpful.  I have read about the Jesus Prayer with Frederica Mathews-Green several years ago. And the Jesus Prayer has been a regular part of my prayer life since.

John Michael Talbot has a very different introduction to the Jesus Prayer. Talbot is known for being a musician that came to Christ through the Jesus movement and then later became Catholic and now heads a lay monastic community that is made up of both Catholic and Protestant people (both married and single) in Arkansas.

Over the past few years Talbot has been writing, speaking and singing more often, in part because he needed to raise money to pay for repairs that were needed after a large fire at the community.  I read a more memoir oriented book about how Talbot found the patristics authors last year that detailed some of his renewed focus on speaking and writing.

The Jesus Prayer is a theologically oriented introduction to the Jesus Prayer. He has a chapter on each of the words or phrases in the prayer. Talbot is a Catholic, but the books I have read by him have been published by the Evangelical publisher InterVarsity and are very ecumenical in tone. He is not writing to Catholics as much as he is a Catholic that is writing to Christians from his own theological perspective.

Talbot is trying to connect readers to the older mystical (but still theologically grounded) tradition of Christianity. The renewal phrase in the subtitle is both about renewing Christianity through returning it to its historic roots, but also renewing our personal faith by being transformed by Christ.

The body is the senses, emotions and thoughts of the brain. The soul is the spiritual mind or reason. The spirit is the place of passive contemplation. The problem is that through sin we often get stuck in a self-identity that is limited to our senses, emotions and thoughts. The spirit remains asleep. We are forgiven and empowered to holiness in Christ through the cross and resurrection. When the old self dies with Christ, then the spirit is reborn in his Spirit through the cross and resurrection of Christ, and we become an entirely new person. This is a breakthrough, liberation and rebirth in the fullest sense in Jesus!

As with the recent book I read by James Martin, the Catholic background of Talbot puts a slight slant to the book which is helpful for me to see things differently. The book is helpful, although probably not what I would consider essential. The Jesus Prayer is so very short, and there are a lot of books on it. If you have not read about it broadly, I think this is a good addition.

The Jesus Prayer: A Cry for Mercy, A Path of Renewal by John Michael Talbot Purchase Links: Hardcover, Kindle Edition

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