My rating: 5 of 5 stars
Each year I choose a word or phrase as a focus for the twelve months ahead. My word for 2015 is “pray.” So when I saw the title of Ed Cyzewski’s latest book, I knew I wanted it.
Cyzewski’s premise is that prayer and writing are similar in many ways. In the first six chapters he shows how they both:
– Require space in our lives. We may need to jettison something else to fit them in.
“I’ve found it immensely helpful to set timers for both prayer and writing” – Ed Cyzewski, Pray, Write, Grow, Kindle Location 283.
– Benefit from our undivided attention.
“Our prayer and writing will be most effective when we tune in to both ourselves and other people” – K.L. 370.
– Help us find healing from painful experiences and aid us in helping others.
“We don’t just heal by articulating past pain when we pray. We can also heal by writing about our pain, our fears, and our struggles. As my prayer and writing work together, I have often transitioned from prayer to writing as I’ve faced the anxiety of my past” – K.L.
– Have a physical component and grow stronger through exercise and a regimen.
“… this whole book is all about simple steps we can take to improve our spiritual, physical, and mental states as we seek to pray and write” – K.L. 740.
– Guide us toward our life’s purpose.
“If we want to share something meaningful and healing with others, we have to spend time up on the mountain” – K.L. 894.
– Need a great deal of faith.
“Living by faith shouldn’t feel safe. It should feel a bit wild and reckless” – K.L.922.
The seventh chapter is lists of prompts, resources, and links under the headings “Writing Quick Start” and “Prayer Quick Start.”
Cyzewski’s voice is encouraging. When he gives advice and suggestions he does it with a subtle, not commanding tone. He shares transparently about how prayer gave him insight into the childhood roots of his fear and anger. He tells about his struggles with worry when he quit his job to freelance full time. The awareness he gains through prayer and journaling opens his eyes to his passions, which then become his writing topics.
My two top takeaways from this book are:
1. An introduction to the Examen prayer practice (developed by Ignatius Loyola) that Cyzewski uses, explains, and recommends. His experience of how this daily discipline fosters spiritual intimacy with Christ in him whets the reader’s appetite to try it for him/herself.
2. The picture Cyzewski paints of an integrated writing life. In it prayer and writing intertwine to braid a trellis that aids growth in both areas.
I think this would be a great book for Christians writing in any genre to read.