Edited by Michael Resman. What Canst Thou Say?, 2017. 172 pages. $9.95/paperback.
Immersed in Prayer: Stories from Lives of Prayer is intended to provide support and companionship for those seeking to enrich their relationship with God. Contributors tell of struggles and blessings encountered on the journey toward a prayer-based life. With a swimmer’s innate sense of rhythm, 26 Friends express varied experiences with the Holy One. Prayerful words splash by, literally just about out of nowhere. The “just about” is where the beauty lies. Brief responses convey myriad depth experiences, like a prayer-focused print version of Friends Publishing Corporation’s QuakerSpeak video series.
Reading these pages was like seeing swimmers flash past in lanes marked with queries. What prompted you to decide to undertake a life of prayer? What happens when you pray? Whom do you encounter when you pray? How have your prayers changed over time? What impediments to prayer have you experienced? What ways did you find to work-around your impediments to prayer? What are some of the signs of growth you notice in your prayer life?
Chapter six took me deeper: Do you have nicknames for yourself or the Other? Michael Resman’s introduction speaks to this: Nicknames “indicate an intimacy and level of familiarity . . . offer a glimpse into the speaker’s relationship with the one being named.” Friends’ names for God include Divine Companion, Protector, Holy Spirit, Mother, Sweet Comforter, the Light, Goddum, Teacher, the Source, the Name, Holy Sophia. Resman quotes Japanese author Shomei Yoh: “The life of each of you is a shining wavelet flowing forth from the source of the great being,” a saturating image of oneness in which contemplative Quakers may want to soak. “We are all ‘God-Drops’ in the ocean of God.”
What does prayer mean to the Religious Society of Friends? Immersed in Prayer includes respondents who plunge into engulfing depths. Some writers use a straightforward journal form; others turn to poetic language to convey intimacy with the Sacred. What does prayerfulness mean to you? Friends from Alaska to Bolivia offer a buoyant environment for readers who yearn for greater intimacy with Sacred Presence.