Spiritual snobs may sneer at the use of prayer books, but those of us who turn to the Psalms or recite the Lord’s Prayer when we run out of words for God understand the power of reading other people’s prayers. The best prayer books offer not only the language but the camaraderie we need.
And that is exactly what Arianne Braithwaite Lehn’s Ash & Starlight: Prayers for the Chaos and Grace of Daily Lifeoffers.
In Ash & Starlight, Lehn—a Presbyterian pastor—offers beautifully crafted and theologically astute prayers for various states of mind and seasons of the year. The greatest gift of these prayers, however, may be that Lehn’s prayers ring as personal as they do universal.
In baring her soul, she invites us to take inventory of our own. Though at first glance, not all topics fit all circumstances, as we read prayers like, “When I’m bound up in jealousy” or “When I don’t feel ready for this,” the lyrics lull us. We find ourselves exploring and asking for help in areas we didn’t even know we needed.
As we read verses like
You gather me in when
the wind of anxiety and fear whips,
when I feel my face, my heart,
tighten against the cold’s force.
we step with Lehn into God’s mighty presence and feel God’s arms wrap around anxieties we may or may not have previously recognized.
And as we pray bold words like
Change my mantras from
clarity to exciting ambiguity,
definition to open-endedness,
certainty to awe-filled surprises,
timeline to trust.
we hold our breath as we step into the depth of this request—and exhale when we realize its wisdom.
In prayer after prayer, readers will find words and find themselves—recognizing deep fears, failings, and joys. And receive that best gift of knowing we are not alone—that we are not the only ones who’ve wrestled, wondered, and worried. We’re not the only ones who need to bring these prayers before God.
Because of this, Ash & Starlight makes a worthy addition to a personal prayer book collection, but also for devotional and congregational use. It would be a mistake to see the skirt, tights, and pumps on the cover and note the female author and assume this is a book for women. Of course, it is. But it’s also for men. It’s for boys and for girls. For anyone—at any stage of faith, from curious to committed to falling away. That is, it’s for anyone brave enough to bring bold and beautiful language before the God of the Universe, who lends an ear to hear the everyday and special day trials and troubles of life. (Chalis Press)