05 January 2012

Review: The Art of Prayer, Fr. Martial Lekeux, OFM

The one question that seems to plague serious Catholics more than any other is:  how do I pray well?  

This question comes after an admission that their prayer life is suffering from a dry spell or that they have more or less given up on prayer b/c the effort seems so fruitless.

Generally, I direct these earnest folks to the first few paragraphs of Part Four of the Catechism (nos. 2559-2565) and urge them to re-think their theology of prayer; that is, I urge them to reconfigure their notion of prayer as a way of jump starting a more fruitful conversation with God. 

The author/source of this part of the Catechism (a Dominican friar named Fr. Jean Corbon) writes:  "He who humbles himself will be exalted; humility is the foundation of prayer. Only when we humbly acknowledge that 'we do not know how to pray as we ought,' are we ready to receive freely the gift of prayer. 'Man is a beggar before God'"(2559).

This is all well and good. . .and exactly right.  But how do we do this?  Knowing the theology of prayer is vital.  Knowing the mechanics is also important.  But being able to put the two together often eludes even the best pray-ers among us. 

Enter Fr. Martial Lekeux, OFM and his 1958 book, The Art of Prayer (original in French, L'art de prier, 1957), reprinted by St Pius X Press.

The most impressive element of this book is its practicality; that is, its usefulness for daily prayer.  Completely given over to the utility of prayer, Fr. Lekeux leads his readers toward a truly mundane practice of talking to and thinking with God.  

With chapters on private vocal prayer, public prayer, meditation, affective prayer, and prayers of simplicity, Fr. Lekeux offers the earnest Catholic a simple yet profound way to stay in the conversation with God w/o an elaborate imaginative structure (a la Teresa of Avila, John of the Cross, etc.).  What you get are concrete suggestions for turning everyday tasks into moments of time with God.

If you are looking for an instructive, orthodox guide to a better relationship with the Lord, this book is for you!

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1 comment:

  1. Anonymous6:21 PM

    I love this book and have been a daily prayer for 34 years. I am plagued with roving thoughts as every other person on this earth is and this is a timeless treasure that I want to pass on to others. This is a good solid book and teaches you to look at where the problems arise and gives you some concrete ways to deal with them.