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Everything Belongs: The Gift of Contemplative Prayer

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This popular and bestselling book of the renowned Franciscan challenges people to move beyond the comfort of a settled life toward an understanding of themselves that is rooted in their connection to God. Only when they rest in God can they find the certainty and the freedom to become all that they can be. Contemplation has its place at the heart of Christianity, a place that allows people to experience how “everything belongs.”

192 pages, Paperback

First published March 1, 2003

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About the author

Richard Rohr

217 books1,795 followers
Fr. Richard Rohr is a globally recognized ecumenical teacher bearing witness to the universal awakening within Christian mysticism and the Perennial Tradition. He is a Franciscan priest of the New Mexico Province and founder of the Center for Action and Contemplation (CAC) in Albuquerque, New Mexico. Fr. Richard's teaching is grounded in the Franciscan alternative orthodoxy—practices of contemplation and expressing itself in radical compassion, particularly for the socially marginalized.

Fr. Richard is author of numerous books, including Everything Belongs, Adam’s Return, The Naked Now, Breathing Under Water, Falling Upward, Immortal Diamond, Eager to Love, and The Divine Dance: The Trinity and Your Transformation (with Mike Morrell).

Fr. Richard is academic Dean of the Living School for Action and Contemplation. Drawing upon Christianity's place within the Perennial Tradition, the mission of the Living School is to produce compassionate and powerfully learned individuals who will work for positive change in the world based on awareness of our common union with God and all beings. Visit cac.org for more information.

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5 stars
2,450 (52%)
4 stars
1,382 (29%)
3 stars
543 (11%)
2 stars
171 (3%)
1 star
130 (2%)
Displaying 1 - 30 of 362 reviews
2 reviews2 followers
July 1, 2012
I am re-reading Everything Belongs.
This segment seemed especially significant:
Everything Belongs - Richard Rohr - Pg 132

We are much larger than the good or bad stories
we tell about ourselves.
Please don't get caught in just "my" story,
my hurts,
my agenda.

It's too small.
it's not the whole You,
not the Great You.

It's not the great river.
It's not where life is really going to happen.

The Spirit is described as
"flowing water"
"a spring inside you"
"a river of life.

your life is not about "you."
It is a part of a much larger stream called God.
...faith might be precisely that ability to trust the River,
to trust the Flow
and the Lover.

That takes immense confidence in God,
especially when we're hurting...
we can want to make things right quickly.
We lose our ability to be present
and go into our head and start obsessing....
become goal-oriented,
trying to push or even create the River--

the River that is already flowing through me.
FAITH does not need to push the river
precisely because it is able to trust that THERE IS A RIVER.
The River is flowing;
we are in it.
The River is God's providential love-
so do not be afraid.
We have been given the Spirit.
Profile Image for Adam.
89 reviews
October 1, 2007
I need to read and re-read this again and again.
Challenging, deep, beautifully written, and wise enough that you can return to it often and take away amazing kernels of goodness every time. This book was my introduction to Rohr's work, and I'd recommend it instantly.
In essence, peace, contemplation, simplicity, and the reality of the love and goodness and grace of God in the person of Christ. Wonderful.
Profile Image for Justin Pitt.
42 reviews11 followers
July 20, 2013
A beautiful book for spiritual seekers. Written from a Christian perspective, but with a healthy (and needed) dose of Eastern thought and approach (especially Buddhism). A desperately needed handbook for any postmodern, disaffected, materialistic Westerner trying to find the path to Enlightenment.
Profile Image for Bri McKoy.
Author 3 books231 followers
August 29, 2020
Required reading by anyone who is human.

I have read several of Rohr’s books and enjoy his writing very much. But two of his books have given words and form to my own journey and thoughts. The first is Falling Upward and now this one.

If there was ever a time in history for this book, it is now. Rohr looks at what divides us as Christians and as Americans. Why we are so easily offended. Why we choose to fall on our sword over one issue or another. The danger of leaning too far left or too far right. Several times while reading this book, I would read just a sentence or two to Jeremy and it would result in hour long conversations.

A few quotes that best get to the heart of this book:

“Overly zealous reforms tend to corrupt the reformers, while they remain incapable of seeing themselves as unreformed. We need less reformation and more transformation.”

“Such unenlightened leaders do not love true freedom for everybody but freedom for their system."

"It's easier to belong to a group than to belong to God."

What Surprised Me Most: how this book truly led me to look at my own convictions. Evaluate which ones are true and right and just. And which ones exist because they make me feel good and make me feel righteous.
Profile Image for Elizabeth.
52 reviews
October 7, 2020
This great a great book! This was the first book I have read by Richard Rohr but it will not be the last. Contemplative prayer can be a hard subject because of the difficulty in explaining what it is and how it works in words. Words can be very inadequate in regard to this subject but Richard has done a solid job of breaking it down into easily understood concepts and very quotable sayings that can be motivators and clarifiers during this prayer practice. Rohr explains contemplative prayer as a "stance" more so than an action and this is a beautiful and foundational way to conceptualize this subject matter. If you are interested in contemplative prayer as a practice, this is an excellent book to get started or even supplement your understanding.
Profile Image for Shannon.
1,546 reviews
March 17, 2012
Everything Belongs may be the best faith based book I've ever read. Rohr's left me feeling encouraged in who I am, with insight into who God is and with desire to know Him better. The writing is easy to read, which is great because there is so much here that can be challenging - about how the need to let go of who we think we are, about how the gospel is about subtraction, not addition, about how prayer is a stance, not an action.

Here's what this book isn't: 1) a how to guide on prayer. It won't give you step by step instructions on how to enter into contemplative prayer or who to pray for. 2) a book about the activity of prayer. This isn't a book that will tell you how to sit and where to sit and how often to pray. 3) the same book you've read on prayer by seven other Christian authors. Rohr isn't going to repeat what you've read elsewhere about the value of prayer.

Here's what it is instead: 1) a book about why we should desire contemplative prayer. Rohr explains early on in the book that we can't seek the presence of God - we're already in the presence of God. What we need is to be aware of that. 2) a book about the heart of prayer, not the activity of it. Rohr talks about prayer being a way to ask God to help us open our hands and hold everything loosely - and to keep them that way. 3) a book that will encourage you to see God in a new way. This passage was especially striking to me: "When we attach, when we fall in love, we risk pain and we will always suffer for it. The cross is not the price that Jesus had to pay to talk God into loving us. It is simply where love will lead us. Jesus names the agenda. If we love, if we give ourselves to feel the pain of the world, it will crucify us. (This understanding of the crucifixion is much better than thinking of Jesus as paying some debt to an alienated God, who needs to be talked into loving us.)"

If you are interested in a new way to see and think about prayer and your entire faith life, I highly recommend Everything Belongs. It may challenge you - you may not agree with everything Rohr says - but I doubt it will leave you unchanged.
Profile Image for Darby.
49 reviews4 followers
March 22, 2019
Sometimes in the midst of my contemplative practice I think, "wait. What am I supposed to be doing again? Am I still on track?" This happened recently, so I grabbed Everything Belongs with the intent of refocusing my contemplation and refreshing my awareness of the basic tenets of the practice. I like Richard Rohr and have learned a lot from his other books. This time I was just hungry for a few concrete ideas, and instead I got a book that's super deep, super abstract, super amorphous, LIKE CONTEMPLATION ITSELF, I get it. But it's indirectness didn't serve me at all. I feel like a high school sophomore who just wants a book on HOW TO WRITE POETRY when the very nature of poetry resists "how-to's." And yet, that's what I hoped for in this book. It's not there. If you want something deep to wash over you, read it. If you want to start or re-start contemplation and need to know what to do, maybe read something else.
Profile Image for Craig Werner.
Author 13 books158 followers
August 9, 2011
Difficult book for me to respond to. I'm absolutely convinced Rohr and his Institute for Contemplation and Action (he says the key word is "and") is a positive force in the world. And there's little here I'd argue with. But the book has a self-help feel that grates on me at times even (maybe especially) when I'm in deep sympathy with his sense of how the contemplative tradition and prayer provide useful ways of getting beyond the simplistic and inadequate phrasings of our society. My problem may be that I'm too familiar with Rohr's sources--a certain strain of Buddhism, Thomas Merton, the desert mothers and fathers. I'd suggest people start with those, closer to the core. But for someone who's not familiar with the approach, nothing wrong with the book.
Profile Image for Reid Belew.
155 reviews6 followers
August 31, 2020
This is really different for Rohr. This is an older book of his, and I can only assume he’s learned a lot about writing in the last 20 years. To me, this book seems very unstructured, and almost like stream of consciousness regarding contemplative Christianity, its merits, and its strengths over traditional religion. The subtitle mentions contemplative prayer, but it isn’t mentioned hardly at all. I think this is literally 6 chapters of Rohr just talking out loud. Granted, many of his books have that flavor to them, but this is the most pronounced I’ve seen.

Still, it’s Rohr. It’s good.
Profile Image for Carson Cooper.
28 reviews3 followers
May 10, 2020
Note to self you should read this again in 5-10 years I just don’t think ur smart enough rn to understand it ahahahahahaha
Profile Image for Elijha Spears.
3 reviews
June 17, 2022
Fantastic read! Challenging in many aspects and very well written. I hope to implement Rohr’s words into my life.
“We grow by subtraction more than by addition.”
So much to learn in this book!
Profile Image for Amy Morgan.
253 reviews22 followers
April 6, 2023
I appreciate much of what Richard Rohr brings to the table. He challenges so much that is inherent in our Christian culture, challenging us to be with Christ and to experience his love. It is a shame though that he has certainly lost the gospel in his attempts to widen the bounds of religion.
Profile Image for Ed Smith.
123 reviews3 followers
October 27, 2022
I read this one maybe ten years ago and again here just now. Still quality insights from my one of my favorite authors. Maybe one of the reasons I like him so much is because he spends just as much time and energy on Jung as he does the Gospel. And quite honestly, I find his treatment of the former a bit more plausible than the latter.
Profile Image for Mychael-Ann.
305 reviews1 follower
November 14, 2022
“We do not think ourselves into new ways of living. We live ourselves into new ways of thinking. In other words, our journeys around and through our realities, or "circumferences," lead us to the core reality, where we meet both our truest self and our truest God. We do not really know what it means to be human unless we know God. And, in turn, we do not really know God except through our own broken and rejoicing humanity.”

I marked dozens of passages in this book. I’m still very much a beginner in the realm of contemplation- my default state is a busy brain and body but I am convinced it could change me if I can find enough patience and persistence.
January 7, 2022
I’ll be reading this multiple times. It’s accessible but also so dense with information. It might be the slowest I’ve ever read a 155 page book, but it’s beautiful and challenging. I’ll be a better man if I live the way I’m challenged to in this book.
November 11, 2021
Richard can talk to me anytime he likes. Usually we meet in the early hours before my day picks up steam. When I say we meet, I mean I hold his book in one hand and a pencil in the other as I underline sentences or star particular paragraphs that he clearly wrote just for me.

The only sorrow of picking up a book by Rohr is knowing that it will end and I'll be left on my own until I find/order/borrow another. Of some comfort: his ideas are so fresh that I know I will be struck once more with the warmth of the Love of which he speaks. The perspective and understanding shared will make me blink and catch my breath as he invites me, yet again, into contemplation and the Unified Field where everything belongs.

Confession: I still have a spiritual crush on this writer and must admit that I hope I may be transformed into a mystic as his words and teachings soak into my soul.
Profile Image for Christine Hiester.
157 reviews35 followers
April 10, 2019
I would give this 3.5 stars if that were an option. I love Rohr's writing. I am drawn to his beautiful metaphors, and his deep way of processing the spiritual life. This book was not one of my favorites of his, simply because it did not seem to have as much cohesion in its concepts. I would suggest The Naked Now as a first Rohr book for those who are interested.

Revisited: My second read-through was so meaningful that I changed my rating to a 5. It just goes to show that there actually may be a perfect time to read a book.
Profile Image for Pamela.
19 reviews
February 2, 2011
An excellent "introductory" book by Rohr that I highly recommend. A perfect read for anybody who is disillusioned with the Catholic church and traditional teachings. He presents a unique, progressive interpretation of Christ's teachings that makes sense and is very hopeful and uplifting.
Profile Image for Jessica.
124 reviews18 followers
December 18, 2016
Wish it would have had some suggestions about how to approach contemplative prayer, rather than just lots of reasons why it's a good idea.
Profile Image for Adam Jarvis.
143 reviews4 followers
January 27, 2022
I really enjoyed parts of this book. It was obviously written with a lot of thought.

The main point of this book, as the title suggests, is that “everything belongs” that God uses everything in our lives, the good, the bad, the joy, the pain- for his glory and for our growth. If he had stopped there, this would have been a beautiful book.

However, Rohr, in somewhat typical Rohr fashion, seems to take an amazing truth of God, express it beautifully, and then stretch it past the breaking point.

Let me illustrate. Imagine you are sitting in the desert of Nevada, with your little car of Christianity, staring down a long dusty, dead end road. Is this all there is? you wonder. Is there more to the Christian life than this? Then along comes Rohr, explaining the incredible interstate system. You’re excited as he talks about the possibilities. Why, you can drive to Chicago, New York, Miami- wherever! This is great! Then Rohr looks you straight in the eye and says kindly, “Isn’t this wonderful?”
“Yes!” you say. “It’s amazing!”
“Do you love amazing things?” asks Rohr.
“I do, I do!” you exclaim.
“Well then,” (he puts his arm around your shoulders and lowers his voice) “I believe that if you point that car east and drive as fast as you can, you’ll end up in London! How amazing is that! Ha ha!” And with that, he gives you a big smile and walks away. Suddenly, you feel a little deflated.

Using the love and work of Christ, Rohr eloquently seems to dismantle works-based salvation (is that strange coming from a Catholic?) and then turns around and uses the same logic to hint at universalism! And then, in case you didn’t get the hint, he ends the book on strong notes of universalism, including people like Gandhi and Mandela. (Maybe he should have titled the book “Everyone Belongs.”)

Also, the way he sexualized the Eucharist, (aka, Lord’s Supper) was weird and super creepy.

It’s a shame, because there were so many great nuggets of truth in this book. Here are a few of my favorite quotes:

“God is always bigger than the boxes we build for God, so we should not waste too much time protecting the boxes.”

“We don’t think our way into new ways of living, we live our way into new ways of thinking.”

“Even though the admonition not to fear is the most common one-liner in the Bible, our system never called fear a sin. We rewarded it, as all organizational systems will. When religion becomes an organizational system, it will reward fear because it offers control to those in management.”

“Secular freedom is having to do what you want to do, religious freedom is wanting to do what you have to do.”
Profile Image for Joe Taylor.
101 reviews1 follower
April 7, 2022
Now this was a gem of a read!

After researching a lot about contemplative prayer in recent months, this has been my favourite discovery so far.

While not as practical in its approach as some other books that deal with the subject, Father Rohr's delightful, conversational style makes it easy to digest. I admit that I devoured this book in a few short sessions. I would definitely like to give it another slower read-through to chew on the vast wisdom that it has to offer.

"Everything Belongs" helps the reader understand the rich scope of contemplative practice and that contemplative prayer is not only the few moments of silence we experience, but rather transforms our entire way of being in the world.

I would highly recommend this book to anyone who wants to delve into the world of contemplative prayer and the mystics with an approachable, digestible read.
Profile Image for Mary.
786 reviews30 followers
August 28, 2019
Continuing my exploration of Richard Rohr. This book was my morning reading (5/10/25 pages a day) while I was visiting my daughter in England. I had time to really sink into Rohr's writing and work on my own contemplative practice.

His writing is continuing to give me works for how I understand God and my relationship with Him and everything He's created. The Everything part has been especially helpful in navigating today's world.

If you're new to Rohr, this would be a great place to start. The material is approachable, but meaningful. and maybe life changing.

Summer Bingo - Backlist by an author on your current year favorites list
Profile Image for Joseph.
677 reviews
February 25, 2022
Excellent set of reflections and considerations for the pursuit of contemplative prayer. The author takes a comprehensive look at today’s society and the state of religion in it, in order to provide a pathway towards finding God in the midst of the storms of daily life. Rooted in love and mercy, the book details the internal transformations that must take place in order to meaningfully follow and engage in a Christian life.
Profile Image for Jenny White.
26 reviews
May 25, 2023
My 5 star ratings are reserved only for books that I can’t help but tell people about, and I was reading chunks of this one out loud to anyone who would listen, even before I finished it.

I felt like I was sitting next to a grandfather while reading this book - soaking in his reflections and hungry for more wisdom and hard truths, birthed from experiences of Real Life in God. This book was surprisingly the most perfect book for my time spent on vacation and somehow also the perfect book for time spent in a hospital waiting room. Where I am is where Christ is.
224 reviews9 followers
November 24, 2017
im not entirely sure how to respond to this book, except to say that rather than putting his other books on hold at the library, i immediately ordered used copies because i already know i want to own them. read Richard Rohr if you are tired. what he has to say is Life-Giving. his experience of prayer/contemplation seems to transcend a lot of traditional religious language & positioning. i appreciate that.
Profile Image for Olivia Rose.
62 reviews
October 3, 2020
Waaaay too many comma splices for a published book, let alone an updated & revised edition. I'm not a huge fan of Rohr's writing style in this one, though I do love his approach to prayer that really hits at the individual side of justice and shalom (a nice balance to a lot of works today that hit at the collective, which is equally important). I don't love his tendency to throw in a random bible verse every few paragraphs: "That's what Paul meant when he talked about [...]," giving a pseudo-exegesis that is really just anecdotal and illustrative. Had my literary mind frustrated. Ultimately, I was wanting a how-to book on contemplation, which this is not. I don't really recommend this but, at the same time, we could all use a little more mysticism in our lives. 3/5
Profile Image for Carol Willis.
112 reviews3 followers
January 7, 2022
I'll be thinking about this and returning to it for quite a while. It's not a book to read fast. I read and journaled, read, and journaled, a bit at a time. The only way. So much matches where I am right now.
Profile Image for Cheri.
355 reviews
December 30, 2020
I have yet to read a book by Richard Rohr that does not resonate and hit me with a synchronistic lightning bolt of wisdom. Every word within this book is gold. Highly recommend to any lapsed christian and philosopher that is looking to find deeper meaning in our modern world.
Displaying 1 - 30 of 362 reviews

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