Recently, a Christian author tweeted that she wanted to get into the women’s devotional market, only she needed a husband and four children for Instagram first. I snorted into my morning coffee as I read this, immediately able to to picture the hypothetical Instagram family all color coordinated for Easter service. Dad with a beard and a bowtie, photogenic children, and mom with blond waves worthy of a Hallmark movie. He is risen. Get 25% off my favorite curling wand with the special offer code JESUS.
This is 100% what the Christian publishing industry markets to women, and it’s exhausting.
This collection is authored by women, but it’s anything but girly. And my favorite thing about it is there isn’t even the slightest whiff of American prosperity gospel in it. A Rhythm of Prayer is a collection of prayers and essays on prayer by female theologians and writers.
This collection is real. It’s about being grounded in faith when times are difficult, when injustice is all around, when physical and mental health issues are all consuming. It doesn’t shy away from addressing the sins of the church, such as racism and ableism. It’s poetic and practical and very approachable, a guide to finding God in the everyday. There were authors I knew like Barbara Brown Taylor and Nadia Bolz-Weber and many I didn’t but now follow on Twitter. One of the authors (Marlena Graves) is someone I went to college with, while another (Emily Swan) pastors a semi-local church.
Sarah Bessey and Winnie Varghese write about growing up in communities that prayed faithfully. Alia Joy writes about faith and prayer in the midst of the highs and lows of bipolar disorder. Chanequa Walker-Barnes addresses praying while struggling under the weight of injustice. Nish Weiseth uses Saint Ignatius of Loyola’s Prayer of Examen to guide us in developing our politics around our faith and not the other way around. Sarah Bessey details how to use breath prayer to meditate on scripture. In my favorite piece, Osheta Moore writes about praying for justice as she makes chicken noodle soup, finding meaning in each ingredient: carrots for wisdom, celery for anger that mellows when directed towards action, noodles for connection.
I would recommend this to anyone—male or female—of the Christian faith. Whether you are a pillar of your church, or questioning your childhood faith, or not questioning your faith but definitely questioning the church given current Christian cultural clashes. As Sarah Bessey writes in the introduction, “Prayer is still for you. You still get to cry out to God, you still get to yell, weep, praise, and sit in the silence until you sink down into the Love of God that has always been holding you whether you knew it or not.”
A Rhythm of Prayer is a reminder that while life may be difficult, prayer is a gift. A beautiful privilege rather than a duty.