Helpful guidance for anyone hungry for a richer prayer life. This prayer book for every day of the year will help you move closer to God one day at a time by reading the Psalms and practicing prayer in ways you may not have imagined before. Features both ancient and modern sages from inside and outside the Christian tradition.
Rev. Larry J. Peacock
6 x 9, 448 pp | 978-1-59473-545-5
Move closer to God one day at a time by reading the Psalms and practicing prayer in ways you may not have imagined before.
This is a prayer book for every day of the year for people who don't usually think about using a prayer book. Drawing on a wide variety of resources—lives of saints and sages from every age, psalms, guides for personal reflection and suggestions for practice—Rev. Larry J. Peacock offers helpful guidance for anyone hungry for a richer prayer life. Each day's reading has four parts:
- Remember a notable person of faith or a significant event
- Read a psalm or another scripture passage
- Ponder that day's scripture or person of faith
- Practice a variety of ways to pray, including prayer through play, music and physical movement
This new edition features the addition of ancient and modern sages from inside and outside the Christian tradition as well as updated resources for deepening your spiritual life throughout the year.
“Lives up to its title.... Put the contents of this book into practice and it will hallow your daily life.”
—Parker J. Palmer, author, Healing the Heart of Democracy, Let Your Life Speak and A Hidden Wholeness
“Larry Peacock ... has poured his spiritual insight into the pages of this wise book.”
“Enriched by the guidelines for use on retreats, in prayer groups, and for special occasions, and is very user friendly.... Creates a rhythm in the reader’s soul, helping to establish a rule of life.”
—Rev. Jane E. Vennard, spiritual director, retreat leader; author, Fully Awake and Truly Alive: Spiritual Practices to Nurture Your Soul
“Wonderfully helpful [and] wise.... No matter where you may be in your exploration of prayer and meditation, [this] is an excellent guide.”
—Rev. Dr. Ted Loder, author, Guerrillas of Grace
“A freshly prepared feast for the hungry heart.... Accessible to anyone—inside and outside gathered communities of faith—willing to pause for a few moments to be fully present to this particular day.”
—Alice Mann, consultant, speaker; author, Holy Conversations and The In-Between Church
“Like a fresh spring, Openings invites those thirsty for God to ‘come to the waters’ (Isa. 55:1).... Simple yet wonderfully wise ponderings and prayer practices refresh the spiritual traveler and help to uncover the source of blessing hidden in each day.”
—Wendy M. Wright, PhD, professor of theology, John C. Kenefick Chair in the Humanities, Creighton University
“Sensibly down-to-earth ... will appeal to Christians of all denominations who want to stay alive to the Spirit one day at a time.”
—Wilkie Au, PhD, associate professor, Department of Theological Studies, Loyola Marymount University
Preface to the Second Edition ix
An Invitation xv
Using Openings for Holidays and Festivals 383
Suggested Resources 393
Sourcebooks on Saints, Sages,
Psalms, and Prayer Practices 405
Index of Prayer Themes and Practices 409
Index of Saints, Sages, and Events 413
Q&A WITH REV. LARRY J. PEACOCK
Openings, 2nd Edition: A Daybook of Saints, Sages,
Psalms and Prayer Practices
Tell us about why you wrote the book and why you chose the format of a daybook.
I love page-a-day books with selected writings from good authors for each day of the year. I also love to read the Psalms and practice various ways of prayer. One All Saints Day (November 1) during my morning prayer time, I thought, “Why not try to put all these pieces together in one book?”
After sharing my idea with some friends, they encouraged me to indeed choose a saint, a portion of the Psalms (thereby reading all 150 in one year), some reflections and a prayer practice for each day of the year. It was a great idea and I was very excited that my inspiration had blossomed into a useful book—until I realized that it would mean writing 365 pages. Oh my. I spent a year writing the book and, like a lot in life, you take it one step at a time or in my case, one page at a time.
Who might benefit from reading your book?
This is for anyone who wants (and maybe needs) a little structure in their day: the simple yet challenging task of reading one page a day and taking a few moments to reflect. It is also for persons who want daily guidance on ways to deepen their spiritual life. All the elements of each page point the reader toward examples and suggestions of ways to open to the Divine.
The reading of the Psalms gives readers a language for prayer, an overflowing basket of images, and introduces readers to a people who took all their joys and sorrows, praises and laments to the Holy One.
Meeting saints and sages exposes readers to people who lived, struggled and persevered in “doing justice, loving kindness and walking humbly with God” (Micah 6:8). To know about and be inspired by them is a little boost for each day.
The suggestions for prayer practice give a little nudge to try some different ways of praying and hopefully find some new practices that may grow into habits that keep you connected to God, the Holy One who loves to spend time with you.
I think most everyone will find something to make their life and their world better.
What new saints or sages did you meet who challenged you?
I was attracted to some of the less well-known saints who in simple ways expressed God’s love, which frequently had a ripple effect. Rutilio Grande (March 12) was an El Salvadoran priest who followed Jesus’s compassion for the last and the forgotten by caring for the poor. His death impacted _scar Romero, the new archbishop, who became a visible leader and prophetic voice for the poor and oppressed. So the faithful deeds of care of a parish priest inspired an archbishop, who told the world what was happening in El Salvador.
Saint Isidore the Farmer (May 15) founded no monastery nor did he write any theological documents, yet his kindness and charity in the eleventh century are amazingly remembered and celebrated. So too with Saint Frances of Rome (March 9), a woman of wealth who would dress in humble clothes and go into the streets to help the poor despite opposition from her husband and family.
These and many others who by their compassion and persistence sought to care for all God’s people both challenge me to do more and comfort me that it does not have to be some big or newsworthy gesture.
Which prayer practices are you using the most in your life?
The breath prayer is a constant companion and can quiet my anxiousness or worry. Slowing down the breath and changing the focus is a wonderful antidote to the busyness and stresses of life. I try to maintain a morning practice that includes some prayer stretches (as in April 18 and 20), yoga and listening to gospel or choral music as I eat breakfast and read the newspaper. I then walk to work, taking time to notice the changing environment around me before I go to my prayer spot and journal (including listing five gratitudes), and do spiritual reading and sit in silence. I attend worship weekly as well as a yoga class and once a month I meet with a spiritual director.
- Speak of your own “restless heart” and your search for the Divine.
- What drew you to this book?
- What are your current spiritual practices? How are they feeding your soul?
- Do you find breath prayers, a mantra or centering prayer to be a discipline that leads you into the presence of God? What helps bring you to stillness?
- Several African American persons were lifted up in this month known as Black History Month. Who was a surprise for you?
- Who would you wish to add and why?
- Speak of your successes or struggles with journaling as a spiritual practice. What word of encouragement would you offer to those who struggle (including yourself)?
- March 15 expresses the tension of asking for a gift to be granted and at the same time yielding our wills to God. How do you live with that tension in intercessory prayer?
- What are your joys or struggles with intercession?
- What woman would you add to the list of saints and sages for Women’s History Month and why?
- Psalm 46 commands us to “Be still and know that I am God.” Discuss your struggles and successes with stillness and silence.
- How do you understand the difference between stillness and silence?
- How has your use of posture, gesture and movement in prayer been enhanced or challenged in the readings?
- How do you express your gratitude?
- How was gratitude modeled as you grew up?
- Which meditative practice do you use? Which might you try?
- Psalm 63 is often used in the morning. What psalm or hymn, prayer or poem is your companion in the morning?
- Recall a significant retreat you have been on. What made it special?
- What are you planning (or would you like to plan) for your next retreat?
- Who is a spiritual companion for you, or who might be a soul friend?
- What is the difference between a coach, a counselor and a spiritual director? What is your experience with each?
- What memories or experiences do you recall from your childhood that have impacted your current spiritual practices?
- How do you practice taking a Sabbath day or Sabbath moments?
What are the ways you pray for peace, work for peace and live peaceably?
How have you offered hospitality to others?
How have you received hospitality that touched your soul?
- Who have been some of your teachers of spiritual practices?
- Who would people find most surprising on your list?
- What obstacles have you encountered in your spiritual practices?
- How have you moved through them?
- How do you deal with distractions and busyness in your prayer life?
- What discernment tools have you used in making decisions?
- Which are solitary and which are more communal?
- Who would you invite to ask you questions about a decision?
- What questions do you think might clear the path to greater understanding?
- Who would you add as one of your saints or sages? Who shows you the way to live more in harmony with the Holy and more engaged in bringing love and peace to the world?
- What are the elements of your rule of life?
- What are the daily, weekly, monthly and occasional practices that keep you centered and alive?
- December is often a month of darkness and waiting. How do you wait in the midst of all the expectations and traditions?
- What times of darkness have you gone through?
- What did you learn? How did those times shape you?
- What or who helped you make it through?