There’s no shortage of devotionals available. Search for them on Amazon and you’ll find ones for women, men, girls, boys, teens, and even animal lovers. Some of these encourage us to “claim” the promises in the Bible and realize the power of prayer to get us what we’re entitled to. Julie K. Aageson’s book, Holy Ground: An Alphabet of Prayer, is nothing like those devotionals.
Holy Ground is for those of us who are still trying to figure out prayer but are pray-ers none the less. Aageson is someone who has spent her life in ministry but says this about how she felt when invited to write a monthly column for a denominational magazine:
I was at once both honored and terrified. The column’s title, Let Us Pray, conveyed certain assumptions I was not at all sure about – did they think I had prayer all figured out? Did they assume I was a disciplined prayer-er, perhaps one of those “prayer warriors” I’d heard about? Did they have any idea how much I struggle with praying, with knowing how to talk to God, listen to God? Did they know of my doubts and skepticism about much of Christian life?
Reading those words in the introduction to the book, I felt as though I’d found a kindred spirit. That realization was reinforced when the author mentioned Richard Rohr and his admonition that “prayer is not primarily words but a place, an attitude, a stance – and that for Jesus, prayer seems to be a matter of waiting in love, returning to love, and trusting that love is the unceasing stream of reality.” Yes.
The reflections in Holy Ground are based on words from A to Z and include topics such as beauty, enthusiasm, imagination, mindfulness, stillness, and wonder. As Aageson notes, the reflections are “not meant to be a theological or biblical description of prayer” but rather her “wrestling with a God who makes the ordinary holy.”
In writing about mindfulness, the author contrasts her Muslim friends’ practice of set times of daily prayer with her own multi-tasking lifestyle. Yet, she is aware that “to be present simply with silence is a sacred act of prayer.”
There are questions after each reflection; these could be used by individuals during their devotional time, by a group studying the book, as a program opening activity, or for a retreat. If Holy Ground speaks to you, be sure to check out Aageson’s earlier book titled Benedictions: 26 Reflections.