Prayers for Today:
A Yearlong Journey of Contemplative Prayer
by Kurt Bjorklund
Reviewed by Douglas Connelly
Kurt Bjorklund, the pastor of Orchard Hill Church, outside of Pittsburgh, has done a masterful job of putting together a book of daily prayers. If you use one page a day, five days a week, it will carry you through a calendar year (260 days). I used it for a couple months, but chose to read two or three pages a day on a particular theme. The beauty of the book is that the reader can use it in several different ways and any way brings spiritual direction and depth to the time we spend in quiet meditation and prayer.
Ten themes of prayer are rotated systematically through the pages: Prayers of Thanksgiving, Prayers of Confession, Prayers of Affirmation, Prayers of Petition, and so on. I spent several days reading just the Prayers of Renewal because I sensed the need in my own life for a renewal of passion and love for God. I found each page and even each prayer speaking to me in the area of my need.
The pages begin with a passage or two from Scripture – always a good place to start in prayer. Then the author chooses two or three prayers from a wide variety of sources. The church fathers, modern authors and pastors, the Book of Common Prayer, revivalists and hymn writers, all find their voices in these pages. Bjorklund draws from a broad range of traditions as well – Thomas Aquinas and Thomas Merton appear with John Wesley and Dietrich Bonhoeffer and Martin Luther. Each page ends with “A Prayer for Today” written by Bjorklund himself.
I thought it would be too repetitive to read so many prayers from the editor, but he writes with a passion and freshness that keeps the reader from growing weary of his voice. A few times he gives suggestions to the reader about the posture or approach to prayer, like this one from Day 145: “Find a chair you don’t normally sit in and sit in it quietly contemplating God’s love for you.” I didn’t always follow his suggestions, but they added a fresh dimension to my time of prayer when I did.
This is not a book to be read in a hurry on the way out the door for work. It’s better to be read in a few minutes of quietness carved out of our busy schedules when we have time to read, time to pray, and time to listen for the Spirit’s response to our prayers. The book can be tucked in a briefcase or purse to use when you are traveling or waiting. Even a few bite-sized pieces will add a few minutes of rest and renewal to your day. Most of all, the book will draw you personally into prayer, the great mystery of communicating with the God who rules over all, but who also delights to hear his children talking to him.
Douglas Connelly is the senior pastor of Parkside Community Church in Sterling Heights, MI.