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Opening To God Paperback – Jan 9 2010


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Product Details

  • Paperback: 180 pages
  • Publisher: Intervarsity Press (Jan. 9 2010)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0830835504
  • ISBN-13: 978-0830835508
  • Product Dimensions: 14 x 1.5 x 21 cm
  • Shipping Weight: 240 g
  • Average Customer Review: 4.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (1 customer review)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: #135,452 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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By Dave on April 14 2013
Format: Kindle Edition
The author has produced a book replete with warm, sincere, and practical mentoring toward nurturing a deeper relationship with God through Christ. The counsel is sound and based upon a deep personal walk with the Lord and much experience coming alongside those who desire to go deeper. I found the explanations of the various processes to be helpful and have begun to put into daily life some of the recommeded practices.
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews on Amazon.com (beta)

Amazon.com: 19 reviews
33 of 33 people found the following review helpful
Read This Book And Your Prayer Life Will Change Oct. 20 2010
By A. Morgan - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Hardcover
David Benner writes "Prayer is living with openness to God. Our life becomes a prayer, and our prayer becomes our life as we begin to live with this openness as the core posture of our hearts" (pg 156).

I wonder how many of us can say that our prayer life is about openness to God. It is so easy to categorize prayer as an 'act' that we start and finish at some point in the day. Some of us have longer times of prayer than others but it is almost always seen as a period of time with a beginning and end. For Benner, this is not enough. Prayer is far more than that. In a winsome way Benner encourages us to look afresh at prayer. The heart of the book (chps 3-8) take us through the 'movements' of Lectio Divina, an ancient form of prayer using scripture, allowing the words of God to penetrate deep into our spirits. But the first two chapters and the introduction are as good an introduction to what is prayer and how we should prepare for prayer than I have ever read. I challenge you to read this book and not come away from it longing not just to pray more but to live a life of prayer. This book is a great addition to the books available on prayer. The only worry is that there are so many books on prayer that this 'gem' might be overlooked. Don't overlook it.

Highly recommended.
8 of 8 people found the following review helpful
Spiritual Refreshment for the Soul April 27 2011
By Rev. Dr. Bruce A. Overstreet -pastor - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
The image Benner creates in this book is the desire God has to bring us into
constant awareness of His presence and deep communion to Him. Our lack of awareness of His nearness is due to our being fearful or otherwise unwilling to open ourselves to Him. he has already revealed His deep desire to be come near to us through His atoning sacrifice. Benner describes the practice of Lectio Divina as a discipline that will help one open to God's presence. Overall, I found this book to be quite uplifting and refreshing. It is a wonderful book for personal spiritual encouragement. It would be well suited for a small group discussion guide, or a message series on personal spiritual growth and learning to walk with the Lord. I would highly recommend it.
5 of 5 people found the following review helpful
Prayer As A Way of Life Aug. 2 2011
By Paul M. Dubuc - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Hardcover
This book takes the ancient practice of lectio divina and expands it into a way of prayerful living. A very good book to read if you think your idea of prayer needs to be stretched: "Prayer is not simply words that we offer when we speak to God but an opening of our self to God." Benner helps his readers move from an idea of prayer as something you do--or ought to do--to prayer as a way of living your whole life: "Something is seriously wrong when prayer feels like something we should do. Prayer, more accurately, is something God does in us." Benner says that "transformation is foundational to spirituality." The primary focus of this book is not on how prayer changes things, but on how prayer changes those who pray. This is a very well written and thoughtful book with very practical application sections at the end of each chapter. I highly recommend it.
1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
Psychology, Praxis, Prayer Nov. 2 2012
By Dawn Duncan Harrell - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Hardcover
David G. Benner's ability to turn a phrase sometimes reminds me of C. S. Lewis. Seems like a stretch doesn't it, but that's who came to mind. Benner does more than turn some pretty phrases. His words on what he calls "wholistic" prayer are descriptive and encouraging, but they are also practical. His thoughts on prayer are served greatly by his degree in psychology, making this one of the better spirituality books that I've read.

Advice on spirituality is often limitted, either because it suggests only one practical step in a multi-step effort or because it suggests a full pattern in theory but doesn't really flesh out a way to practice the theory. Benner, on the other hand, is able to offer both the theology/anthropology AND a step-by-step method of turning to God.

Take for example "The Welcoming Prayer" (154-56), which Benner suggests involves three elements: (1) recognition of a negative emotion, (2) welcome of the negative emotion, (3) surrender of the circumstance and emotion to God. One is often encouraged toward one of these pieces, but not all three. Sometimes a spiritual director will suggest noticing the body's sensations as a way of identifying the presence of negative emotions (step 1). Or one will read about Jung's "befriending the shadow," without a clear idea of how to do that (step 2). "Surrender" is a favorite concept for evangelicals and out of favor with liberation theologians (step 3). But Benner puts them all together, both in theory and in practice.

Benner uses lectio divina as a scaffolding for the book, develping each "rung" as a way of explaining his perspective on whole-person prayer. If you want a practical how-to on the traditional form of lectio divina, I'd suggest Daniel Harrington (Awake My Soul: Contemporary Catholics on Traditional Devotions). But if you want a well-rounded life of prayer and simple suggestions for turning to God ("attending, pondering, responding, and being"), see what Benner has to say.

Step 2, welcome the negative emotion? Turns out that can be done simply by speaking the words, "Welcome, emotions of _____." But don't take my word for it. Benner's words are better. Definitely read Opening to God: Lectio Divina and Life as Prayer.
1 of 2 people found the following review helpful
Much to commend, with a few cautions. July 4 2014
By Jason Kanz - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
If you're idea of prayer is that you bring a list of petitions to God during your morning devotions, Opening to God: Lectio Divina and Life as Prayer (2010) by David Benner may challenge your understanding of prayer. Benner, a psychologist and spiritual guide, certainly acknowledges the necessity of petitionary prayer, but in this book, he presents an extended reflection on why prayer is not just that.

Building upon the ancient practice of lectio divina (sacred reading), Benner suggests several different ways in which the Christian's prayer life may be transformed. For those unfamiliar with lectio divina, it traditionally consists of 4 movements--lectio (reading), meditatio (meditation), oratio (prayer), and contemplatio (contemplation). It was developed as a way to engage holy scripture. Benner has expanded this idea into the world of prayer. The pray-er may engage in several different practices including: prayer as attending, prayer as pondering, prayer as responding, and prayer as being. As he describes how each of these approaches may be practiced, he shatters the notion of prayer simply as supplication.

There is much to commend about this book. I think many Christians, like me, have a stunted concept of prayer. Opening to God will assuredly push your boundaries of understanding what a life of prayer can look like. On the other hand, Benner's apparent full acceptance of the contemplative tradition including "emptying ourselves" seems at times to have more connection with Eastern spirituality than with orthodox Christianity.

On the whole, I would happily commend this book for those who feel stagnant in their prayer lives and hope to grow in relationship with God.

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