May 27, 2009
Review: God, Help Me
When I saw God, Help Me- How to Grow in Prayer by Jim Beckman listed in the reviewer program, I really went back and forth on whether or not to choose it. As a convert and former atheist, prayer is something that has always perplexed me, something I've never felt I was doing "right," and sadly, something I'd largely given up on. I was still going through the motions of doing rosaries and trying to talk to God, but without much understand or direction, and very little satisfaction. In the end I decided to give it try, and I'm very glad I did!
I was hooked from the introduction. Beckman nailed all the internal longings I had been feeling and laid them all out. He writes, "Prayer...provides the experience of deep intimacy that our human hearts crave. Through prayer, and only through prayer, we come to a full understanding of who we are and why we are here." He goes on to say that "whether you realize it or acknowledge it, there is something deep inside you longing to be reconnected with the very source of life that gave rise to your existence in the first place. It's in you, you can't silence it." I hadn't articulated these things, but reading them, I knew instantly their veracity.
The book isn't just a "how-to." While Beckman does give thorough step by step instruction on various approaches to prayer, he first explains why prayer is important. Drawing on the wisdom of the Saints, the Catechism, and Scripture, Beckman guides us to an understanding of the influence of our culture and the enemy on our prayer life and the fundamental reality of our hearts and spirituality. He pointedly addresses many of the common excuses for neglecting prayer, in a manner that is both gentle and upfront; he isn't afraid to make us uncomfortable with the truth when necessary. Seeing so many of my own excuses and failings in front of me forced me to acknowledge and confront them.
Beckman goes on to introduce and explain some of the common approaches to prayer in a way that's easy to understand and implement without seeming "dumbed down." I found his explanations extraordinarily helpful, and with the help of this book have had the most moving and fruitful experiences with God in prayer that I've ever had. The book gave me a very well rounded foundational understanding of prayer, it's importance, purpose, and function, that I believe will serve me well as I read some of the more theologically complicated writings of the Saints. Although the book is categorized as "youth," I say it's a must read for anyone struggling with their prayer life.
This review was written as part of the Catholic book reviewer program from the Catholic Company.