The adventure of prayer
Interview with writer and spiritual director Amy Boucher Pye on her new book, 7 Ways to Pray - Time-tested Practices for Encountering God
Why did you write 7 Ways to Pray?
I’ve long appreciated prayer because of how God changes me through it, and I yearned to learn more about different ways of praying. I engaged in some academic work, pursuing an MA in Christian spirituality from the University of London. There I met some fascinating and sometimes odd characters from history who knew how to enter God’s presence. But some of their writing felt impenetrable at times! I set out to share nuggets of their wisdom and their prayer practices in an accessible format in 7 Ways to Pray.
I’ve also led retreats for many years, and one of the great joys in doing so is helping people to meet with God. My desire is that this book will help people to encounter God and be changed by him, just as I have been.
What can people expect from your book?
It’s a hands-on guide! I favour the prayer practices themselves over a lot of discussion of them, so that people can experiment with different ways to pray. And of course I’m not saying these are the only ways to pray – they are simply seven time-tested practices. I explore praying with the Bible and praying through the Bible (lectio divinia, which is Latin for sacred reading), practising the presence of God, hearing God, the prayer of lament, gospel imaginative prayer, and the prayer of examen. Each of these practices can help us to engage with God in new and fresh ways. I’ve included so much variety because not everyone will gravitate to all of the practices.
What have you learnt about prayer in the process?
We can get stuck in a rut in our prayer lives, continuing with the style that we’ve used for a long time. Embracing different practices can shake us out of the rut, but in a refreshing, not a painful way. Prayer can be such a joy; after all, God so often surprises us, meeting us in grace-filled ways that we might never have imagined.
In my own personal journey, prayer has helped me to stop being so rooted in my head – and too closed off from my heart. Praying with the slow process of lectio divinia, for instance, which is reading a passage of Scripture four times with various emphases, has helped me to have the honey of the message drip deeply into me. Exploring gospel imaginative prayer, when I place myself into the stories of Jesus imaginatively, has opened me up to some buried emotions that I didn’t realise were lurking underneath the surface.
What are your hopes for the book?
As I mentioned, that people would encounter God and receive his life-changing love and affirmation. And that they might feel the adventure and joy of prayer as they venture out in what may be new ways of encountering God.
Amy Boucher Pye is a writer, speaker, and spiritual director. She’s the author of several books, including the newly released 7 Ways to Pray (Form) and Celebrating Christmas (BRF). She loves leading retreats around the UK and in Spain.
Find her on social media and at amyboucherpye.com.
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