Amy Boucher Pye tells the story of sitting in a waiting room, with her hand over her heart, saying over and over in her mind, “Lord Jesus, you live within me. Come Holy Spirit and calm me. Give me your peace. Thank you Jesus that you are with me.”
It wasn’t even that kind of waiting room (a hospital). Pye was sitting nervously in the British version of the DMV, waiting to take her English driving test after years living in London. She feared driving on the “wrong side of the road,” and maneuvering their bulky vehicle through narrow country lanes.
But she was calmed and comforted as she practiced the presence of God, just one of seven prayer practices in her book to help readers encounter God, wherever they might find themselves in situations both mundane and dramatic. Pye is a wonderful, genuine storyteller, and though the book delves into a deep well of Christian history and ancient believers, her anecdotes and stories anchor the material in the real world.
For example, when she felt exiled living far from her Minnesota family, who were missing big milestones in her and her children’s lives, she wrote out Jeremiah 46:27 and turned it into a personal prayer: “Lord, you will certainly save us out of a distant place. Today after nearly eight years, England feels like a distant place ..”
Her tips are often practical—praying through the news—and physical, such as prayer walks and praying using the five senses.
In the chapter “Hearing God,” Pye gives readers ways to test whether or not the voice we are hearing is God’s. “We might hear God but fail to understand him correctly.” Teresa of Avila, one of a rich collection of praying saints who weigh in here, had golden advice for us in this regard: “Teresa said that words from God come unexpectedly and quickly—too fast for us to make up on our own.”
Pye teaches the language of lament, which helps us “process (our) feelings in a more meaningful way.”
She invokes Ignatius of Loyola as a guide in imaginative prayer using the gospel stories, and the prayer of examen, where we look back at our day with the Holy Spirit and see where we moved closer to God and further away from him. Through this practice, “We’ll grow in wholeheartedness, an inner stillness and peace, and a newfound reservoir of courage.”
This book is a wise and comforting spiritual companion for anyone who wants to elevate their prayer life, grow closer to God, and transform. It’s ideal for individuals and small groups. Prayer changes people, and through 7 Ways to Pray, we as readers are changed. “He takes those of us who are scared, anxious, bitter, disappointed and vindictive,” Pye writes, “and morphs us into brave, loving, hopeful, generous people.” (NavPress)