The day after one of my earliest publications, author Margaret Feinberg left a compliment on my blog. I was moved by her generous spirit. I sent her a return email and found her to be a charming and gentle soul. I had already read parts of a book she had helped pull together and now went right out to buy The Organic God. I finished it the same day on a road trip.
In her new release, The Sacred Echo, Feinberg’s topic is prayer, and the conversation is framed by a prayer list in the back of her Bible. It is a prayer list that doesn’t neatly dissolve into a pile of yes’s or no’s. It is a list of names, and Feinberg shares the stories behind them as she offers her insights about her own prayer life.
I say offers because what I love about Feinberg’s approach is her humility. As a reader you never feel that Feinberg is repeating a line from a theology book or rattling off the advice of a noted speaker. Instead, you walk the journey of discovery as Feinberg allows you to look over her shoulder and be introduced to some of the people she prays for everyday. She is as likely to admit to not understanding God as she is to pull out fresh interpretations of well-read scriptures. So, while the trek through the book is guided by the familiar essayist’s style, the inspiration will sometimes be unexpected.
I appreciate that. For me, prayer has never been easy. I’m a rules person and I like the idea that if you follow the rules you will win the game. That doesn’t always happen with prayer. Almost six years ago I delivered premature twins knowing their lives were in danger. A large network of friends and family went to prayer immediately. (And I’m not talking about dinnertime blessings – I’m talking about intercessory gatherings.) Those baby girls were brought before heaven; God was petitioned on their behalf. And, still, one of them lived and the other one went home to Jesus.
Feinberg’s gentle voice comforts me. I know from experience that just praying harder or longer or louder is not the secret. Prayer is about learning to listen to the Sacred Echo – to know the voice behind the sounds. This book will wash over your condemnation and burn-out and help you move back in the direction of relationship. Feinberg’s language and style are simple, just what they should be to complement a sacred but practical pursuit of prayer.