I have on my desk a copy of Julie Davis‘ new devotional book, Seeking Jesus in Everyday Life; and let me begin my review by saying that as soon as it was available I immediately ordered copies for the six people in our RCIA class who will be baptized or confirmed at Easter this year.
I wasn’t exactly buying it sight unseen, mind you; I had the opportunity to read and comment on it before it was published, so I knew what I was getting.
Seeking Jesus in Everyday Life is a series of daily devotions on the subject of prayer. Each page begins with a quote (or two, or three) about prayer, from a variety of sources. Many of the quotes come from Scripture; others are saints like Saint Augustine, or from well-known authors like C.S. Lewis; others are from people you’ve likely never even heard of. The quote is followed by Julie’s own reflections on what the quote has to say, and then the page ends with a short, relevant prayer for the reader.
Now the thing is, Julie didn’t originally set out to write a book on prayer. Rather, as part of a concerted effort to get to know Jesus she began keeping a prayer journal. As she read and prayed she copied down quotes she’d found helpful, and also her own reflections. Now me, when I’ve tried having a prayer journal it’s been a write-once/read-never kind of thing; but Julie used her journal as a kind of devotional, revisiting each insight multiple times and using it as a springboard for prayer. Eventually she realized that it could be that for others, too, and the project grew from there.
In short, this is all material that has helped her in her spiritual life; and I’m here to tell you that there isn’t any deadwood. If you’re interested in learning to pray, or to pray “better”, which is to say if you want to draw closer to Jesus Christ, this is an ideal book to spend time with.
I use the word “spend time” advisedly. It isn’t a book for rushing through, or reading cover to cover over a few days. Rather, it’s meant to be an exercise in lectio divina in its broadest sense: fodder for your own prayer and meditation, taken in small doses.
The book has a unusual feature: you can read it either one page or two pages at a time. Each page stands alone, but facing pages are related in some complementary way, and can fruitfully be read together.
I wanted to end with a quote, and every quote I picked, I found that I wanted to include the whole page. So here’s something from one of Julie’s reflections that resonated with me, taken completely out of context:
God, who created us, doesn’t insist on only one style of prayer from his variable, changeable creatures. I can trust him to meet me where I am, in the way I’ll be best able to know him.
Updated 4/12/2017, as I’d mis-characterized the origin of the book.