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Essence of Prayer

4.30  ·  Rating details ·  124 ratings  ·  16 reviews
Prayer is a word we take for granted. Ought we to do so? What do we mean by prayer? What does the word mean in the Christian context? Almost always when we talk about prayer we refer to something we do. From that standpoint, questions problems, confusion, discouragement and illusions multiply. For Ruth Burrows it is essential to correct this view. Our Christian knowledge a ...more
Paperback, 210 pages
Published September 1st 2006 by HiddenSpring (first published 2006)
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May 30, 2019 rated it it was amazing
Recommends it for: all who would learn to pray
Wonderful! My Benedictine Spiritual Director recommended this Carmelite book on prayer to me, which he said he would read. What drew me to it was words like these:
'Our Christian knowledge assures us that prayer is essentially what God does, how God addresses us, looks at us. It is not primarily something we are doing to God, something we are giving to God but what God is doing for us. And what God is doing for us is giving us the divine Self in love.'


'Our troubles and distress arise from o
Jan 11, 2008 rated it really liked it
I'm taking this one slow and savoring it. It is opening up for me new ways of looking at prayer. I especially liked the chapters on Elizabeth of the Trinity and on Teresa of Avila, as well as some of the early chapters.


Now that I have finished, I am somewhat amazed at how relevant the last two chapters of this book are to my most recent crisis of faith. "A genuine life of faith of necessity destroys illusion. It needs none. It seeks the truth with passion." Ruth Burows, a Carmelite nun, prese
Mar 31, 2021 rated it it was amazing
This is a powerful and very helpful book. If you feel like you “pray wrong” or don’t have fruitful prayer, this book will help you—not because it’s a DIY prayer guide, but because it teaches you that prayer is so different from the way we tend to think of it. It’s a well written and very interesting book.
Craig Bergland
I read Ruth Burrows' books in the 1990s while I was an Oblate of a Religious Order and liked them a lot, so I decided to revisit her writing with Essence of Prayer. I would have to say, that although my spiritual position has moved quite a bit since the 1990s, that I enjoyed this book very much. I don't know that I agreed with everything she said, or maybe it's that I now question the benefits of some aspects of the cloistered life, but I can say that I enjoyed this book greatly and even agreed ...more
Dec 29, 2020 rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
Profoundly embarrassing.

I got this book because Sister Wendy recommended it in the foreword. I'm not a Christian, but I liked Sister Wendy's book on prayer, so I gave this book a chance. I thought that even if I didn't agree with every "jot and tittle" of Roman Catholicism, contemplative practice in that tradition might have something to show me.

I was wrong.

Here's Ruth Burrows convicted in her own words, IMO, of having a completely skill-less, outcome-less, fantasy-based, self deceptive spiritua
Oct 24, 2017 rated it it was amazing
A dense but rich text teaching a Carmelite perspective on prayer. Most striking teachings for me included that prayer is "not a technique but a relationship" and that to measure "how well we pray" is a fallacy (I hear her indicting Centering Prayer, here). All that is required is to sit and "let God love you." Easier said than done, of course, but point taken. Also, the Carmelite teaching that: "You. Are. Poor." (punctuation mine). She includes chapters on the lives and teachings of Teresa of Av ...more
May 26, 2021 marked it as abandoned  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: non-fiction
At the beginning of reading Chapter 5 I realized that like the previous chapters it said the same thing. In this book we are told the essence of prayer over and over again. In Chapter 1 it says "Our Christian knowledge assures us that prayer is essentially what God does, how God addresses us, looks at us. It is not primarily something we are doing to God... but what God is doing for us. And what God is doing for us is giving us the divine Self in love." Then in each chapter we get to know that t ...more
Nov 25, 2019 rated it it was amazing
This book is a series of reflections on prayer. It draws from the well of Carmelite spirituality, but it's broadly applicable to people in all walks of life who want to delve deeper into their relationship with God. ...more
Sep 15, 2020 rated it it was amazing
Excellent. A great collection of essays, down to earth, both practical and wise.
Cala Meyers
Sep 14, 2019 rated it it was amazing
A beautiful description of our life of prayer and intimate relationship with God.
Mar 15, 2020 rated it it was amazing
Excellent book on prayer. My takeaway from the book is that life is not for just staying alive, but for prayer. Which is firstly loving and being loved by God, and consequently and inevitably loving and being loved by neighbor.
Prayer - defined as being receptive to God’s love - is always successful because God is unconditional love. The best thing we can do is to commit to daily prayer in which we open our hearts to being loved by God!
Harry Allagree
Mar 31, 2012 rated it it was amazing
If you want a no-nonsense, no frills, very readable explanation of what prayer is all about & how it relates to the life of a follower of Jesus Christ, I highly recommend this book. Ruth Burrows has been a Carmelite in Quidenham, England, for over 50 years. The simple wisdom of her half a dozen or so earlier books is continued in this work: "...prayer", she says, "is essentially what God does, how God addresses us, looks at us...what God is doing for us. And what God is doing for us is giving us ...more
Ann Yeong
May 18, 2014 rated it it was amazing
An honest, unsentimental look at prayer and the spiritual life. This will be a treasure for one who is ready to be confronted with the unvarnished, startling yet frightening truth about what it means to pray and to be in personal relationship with God.
Lisa Hincapie
This is a wonderful book on surrendering ourselves to Our Lord in prayer. As a Camelite contemplative nun, Sr. Burrows shows what God is doing for us in prayer. She is very candid at times but always to help us understand how much God loves us and wants a relationship with us.
Dec 17, 2018 rated it it was amazing
One of the best books on prayer available.
Feb 17, 2015 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: religion
Very insightful-she speaks in a language I can understand! Great book to read in small doses.
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