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Beginner's Grace: Bringing Prayer to Life

3.88  ·  Rating details ·  407 ratings  ·  80 reviews
Prayer is an ancient and simple way to prepare yourself for grace, or love, and to learn to recognize it when it comes. Even the briefest "grace" spoken before dinner offers its time-honored wisdom. Yet in spite of hundreds of traditions and teachings and books about prayer, millions of Americans have become ambivalent about it. They are unsure how, when, where, and even w ...more
Hardcover, 272 pages
Published November 2nd 2010 by Atria Books (first published November 2nd 2009)
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3.88  · 
Rating details
 ·  407 ratings  ·  80 reviews

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Mar 12, 2011 rated it really liked it
I started this book on the plane. It wasn't my first choice, but my Kindle had died and I needed something to occupy my time.

It's cliche to say I couldn't put the book down, so I'll say I finished it on my connecting flight. But the book is easy-to-read, down-to-earth, and funny. Makes me regret not reading Marriage and Other Acts of Charity before returning it to the library.

Being raised Catholic, spontaneous prayer doesn't come naturally. I expect some formality to it -- some prescribed ritua
Dec 17, 2011 rated it really liked it
I love Kate Braestrup. She's so funny, compassionate, open minded and humble. I read this because I loved her two memoirs. I loved reading this book although I don't know what to say about what it means for me as a non-believer and therefore non-prayerful person. She even has a chapter of prayer for athiests substituting "love" for "God". I found Beginner's Grace such a restful and hopeful book. It really spoke to me in a way that I don't quite understand or know what to do with.
Jun 06, 2011 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: nonfiction
Kate Braestrup’s third non-fiction book, Beginner’s Grace follows up her earlier works that detail her experiences as a chaplain to the Maine Warden Service. If you liked her earlier books, then I would bet you will enjoy this one also.

What sets Beginner’s Grace apart from her previous books is its focus on prayer. Organized into broad sections (like “Ask” and Celebrate”) which are broken into chapters (such as “Prayers for the Fearful,” “Prayers in for Help,” and “Speechless Prayers”) the book
Nov 13, 2010 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: 2010, spirit
There are large parts of this book that are up-and-up Christian, and that sat uncomfortably with my own spiritual beliefs. By the end of the book I had absorbed some wonderful ideas about contemplation - whether prayer or meditation or some other form of expressing gratitude toward our existence and changing our perspective on life - but I kept tripping over the intensely Christian examples and scripture. I much preferred Braestrup's earlier two books, which focused on love as the place where di ...more
Melissa Bowen
May 15, 2013 rated it really liked it
This was lovely. This is a TRUE entry level guide to prayer for anyone at any stage of spiritual practice, even those who are not altogether sure there is anyone there to pray to. For the theologically committed, this is a wonderful conversation partner to understanding how your own tradition might intersect with other world religions, or different stages of belief. There were a few chapters or passages that made me say, "That's not the way I see it." But nothing that would have disrupted my fel ...more
Nov 29, 2013 rated it really liked it
Braestrup's offerings are always accessible, warm, loving, and practical. Recommended especially for those seeking to see how prayer might be part of every day life, and for Unitarian Universalist small group study.
Jul 07, 2013 rated it liked it
Although the author presents the book as a general approach to prayer, independent of any particular religious belief or faith, the guidance, and many of the specific prayers, she offers is (perhaps, understandably), heavily influenced by her own Protestant faith. Throughout the book, she does, however, incorporate discussion of mindfulness and prayer from many other traditions. She has some very insightful personal reflections to offer regarding a life of prayer. I found this to be a good intro ...more
May 24, 2017 rated it liked it
In Beginner's Grace: Bringing Prayer to Life, author Kate Braestrup shares stories about parenting, her faith and her experiences, all in terms of prayer. Braestrup is a Unitarian Universalist minister, serving the Maine Wardens and her community. She is a warm woman who practices her care for others. Her stories are humorous and often insouciant, thus creating a light book, rather than a serious tome on praying constantly. She wants us to feel comfortable about praying at meal time, bed time an ...more
Leslie Latham
Dec 17, 2018 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I really loved listening to this book, and hearing the prayers read aloud, with just the right inflection. I need a paper copy of this book. Thank you, Kate Braestrup, for tour ministry and willingness to take your readers on your journey.
Nov 26, 2017 rated it really liked it
Wonderful stories of prayer and faith from a Christian UU chaplain, rooted in reality, science, and a very liberal view of the bible. Humorous and human, and very honest. Recommended for liberal Christians, UUs, spiritual atheists and agnostics.
Amy Berkley
Feb 10, 2019 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
This is a beautiful book
Lara Hulzen
Jul 03, 2018 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I do so love this author. This book encouraged me to think different about prayer, to be open to change, and to live with a humble spirit that is fully reliant on God who hears my prayers. Loved it.
May 06, 2018 rated it really liked it
Not as easy a read as some of her other books but still thought provoking, funny and tender. I love Kate.
Frank Ogden
Nov 05, 2016 rated it it was amazing
An excellent book on how to pray. I have read several books by Braestrup and enjoyed each one.
Mar 06, 2017 rated it really liked it
Refreshing look at prayer and the different varieties of its use, especially for the times when praying with or for another.
This book on bringing prayer into everyday life is written in an engaging, sincere, and entertaining style. I very much enjoyed it. Braestrup is a Unitarian, which explains why I found her approach so accessible. There is no evangelical push here toward a Christian viewpoint though that tradition certainly is the basis of the theology presented by the author. If you are someone who grew up in a Christian context, but have become distanced from it, this book could serve as a beginning of reconnec ...more
Aug 03, 2013 rated it it was ok
Shelves: non-fiction
Library copy 248.32 B73b
Well! I enjoyed her first book more because this one is more about theology than anything, and I cringe to hear her unbelieving view of God. She makes God fit her ideas.

But she is an excellent writer and I like the way she thinks and she brings up some valid points/issues about prayer -- just that she doesn't believe in prayer as Jesus taught and/or the Bible. She doesn't believe God will answer because she doesn't know Him personally.

I learned a lot from reading this boo
Just A. Bean
May 01, 2013 rated it really liked it
Shelves: christain
I generally like and admire Kate Braestrup's approach to spirituality, especially her common sense and practicality. I continue to find her Ra! Ra! USA! tone and slight anti-Islam bias mildly irritating and at odds with her otherwise compassionate approach.

If you're looking for something prescriptive, this might not be the book. If you're looking for a general philosophy and discussion as to what it actually does, along with a number of rather good example prayers, this could be your book. I esp
Nov 07, 2010 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
I loved this book. I will probably buy this book to add to my collection. Braestrup is funny, down-to-earth, and not pious at all in this book on prayer. She easily and articulately talks about many subjects ranging from sex to her own failures. I'd love to have her as my minister. After reading this book, the thought entered my mind that I would like to plan a trip just to hear her speak.

Beginner's Grace is Braestrup's view of prayer including many set prayers for the reader to read and use. A
Jan 05, 2011 rated it it was amazing
I really enjoyed Braestrups's "Here if you need me" and find her writing style very warm and inclusive. In this book she draws on her background as a mother, a young widow, chaplain in the Maine Warden Service and UU minister and offers up a book about prayer. Prayer in all it's forms and for all possible needs. While focused on her Christian tradition, she includes references to many different faiths. She intersperses them with background information and humorous and touching anecdotes from her ...more
Jan 18, 2014 rated it really liked it
Shelves: for-the-spirit
Kate Braestrup is a chaplain, specifically a Maine game warden chaplain. She is also the mother of four children; they lost her policeman husband in the line of duty. With her second husband, Kate became a stepmother of two additional children. Her life has been varied and busy, and she has had a lot of reasons to simply pray.

Here is a general primer on prayer for both experienced Christians and those seeking somewhere to start. It is not aligned with any denomination. Kate writes with humor, gr
Cherie In the Dooryard
It wasn't clear to me when I picked this up that it was less a memoir about faith and prayer and more an actual how-to for prayer. As an atheist, I therefore found it less useful and interesting than I'd imagined. That said, it still is an enlightening look into the purpose of prayer, which was useful for someone who doesn't ponder such things often. I particularly found the chapters on prayer and the physical body and prayer in mixed company interesting. However, it did drag in other sections a ...more
Jun 07, 2012 rated it liked it
Kate Braestrup is the chaplain to the Maine Warden Service. Her experience as a Unitarian Universalist minister in that area is unusual in that she is bringing her liberal faith to people of all beliefs--in some cases, people with no beliefs. But there are times when prayer is required. For many people prayer is an everyday part of their lives, for many it is brought out for special occasions. In this book, Kate Braestrup shows how prayer can improve anyone's life. No matter what your beliefs, b ...more
Nov 17, 2010 rated it liked it
Shelves: faith, non-fiction
Considering Kate Braestrup's book Here If You Need Me was one of the best books I've read in recent memory, I should admit upfront this latest book by the author probably had a tough act to follow. In Beginner's Grace, I still very much enjoyed Braestrup's writing and insights on faith (which read much like those from another personal fave, Anne Lamott). But overall, this book didn't sing like her memoir did. Beginner's Grace is more of a good reference to keep on hand, whereas I can't seem to k ...more
Oct 04, 2011 rated it really liked it
I became familiar with this author last year when I read the stories in "Here if You Need Me." In this book, "Beginner's Grace," I loved reading her prayers. One of my favorites, a good reminder for the upcoming holiday season: "May the hungry be well-fed. May the well-fed hunger for justice."

I held back to four stars because some of the religious/Bible teachings in the book were not my cup of tea. I must mention that she does put a fresh spin on many of the stories, and she certainly has an op
Mar 31, 2011 rated it it was amazing
I really love this author. I think her take on religion is down to earth and inviting.She describes prayer in all its forms as an activity to give thanks and speak from the heart without worry about choosing the right religious word or sounding holy enough for God's ear. Kate Braestrup is funny and flawed and someone I would absolutely be friends with.I am trying really hard to restrict my reading this year to books I can get at the library, but I think I will have to add this one to my shelves ...more
Margaret King
May 01, 2012 rated it it was amazing
Beautiful and deep from start to finish, and drily humorous as well. Prayer is something we all--at one time or other, if not all the time--feel like we're not doing "correctly." At least in my experience, churches rarely delve deep into teaching about prayer, yet people have told me over and over again that they're not sure how to pray, or even that they feel they can't pray. Braestrup's 3rd book on spirituality is less memoir this time, and more gentle guidebook on starting or expanding one's ...more
May 25, 2012 rated it it was amazing
Once again Kate's voice is a breath of fresh air. Great stories from her family and work life and musings on religion and prayer. I may be biased though as I do know her personally with makes her writing voice all the more real for me. I admit to dragging my feet because I was worried it might be stoggy and stilted, hey this is how you should pray, but found it wasn't the case at all. It's more of a book with suggestions that asks as many questions as might be answered for the reader. Very open ...more
Cara Achterberg
Sep 03, 2012 rated it it was amazing
Kate Braestrup has the most inviting style. I want her to be my pastor. I find myself pondering phrases and underlining revelations as I read. I savored this book. As a lapsed youth minister, I found her words refreshingly honest and healing. I want to have her easy, open, balanaced faith. She speaks simple powerful truths in this book that help those of us hung up on the complicated, guilt-ladden, fantastical aspects of prayer. She shares her life with amazing grace and ever-present humor, but ...more
May 24, 2011 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: spiritual
I have fallen in love with everything Kate Braestrup does. I admire her so much a writer and a person. Here if You Need Me is still one of my favorite books ever. I love to read multiple books at once and I try to have at least one of them be spiritual. This has been that book for me over the last few weeks and I feel like it helped to center my days. I found it really inspiring, but not in a cheesy way. She's so down to earth and non dogmatic about incorporating spirituality into daily living.
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“May the hungry be well fed. May the well fed hunger for justice. Amen.” 3 likes
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