Return to Our Senses: Reimagining How We Pray, by Christine Sine
Reviewed by Karen Sellers
In Return to Our Senses: Reimagining How We Pray, author Christine Sine appeals to modern Christians who want to deepen and rejuvenate their prayer lives. Prayer is an essential part of Christian life. It is a means of drawing closer to God's love and of learning to extend that love towards both others and ourselves. Instead of viewing it as a ritual, Sine encourages Christians to consider prayer an opportunity to develop a deeper relationship with God.
Sine both examines the discipline of prayer and provides some unexpected examples by which we can incorporate it into our daily lives. The first chapter describes Breathing Prayer, a practice that involves concentrating on a word or short passage of scripture, divided into two segments. Each segment provides focus for thinking and meditation, the first during inhaling, and the second during exhaling. This method can also be used on larger passages with different themes or images. Water, symbolic of cleansing and birth, can be a means for understanding more deeply the significance of baptism. Other aspects of nature, for example, a tree preparing itself for winter, can help us reflect on how we are to be stewards of the earth.
In order to have a deeper prayer life, we must position ourselves to be in God's presence. In particular, Sine uses Brother Lawrence as an example of what it looks like to dwell in God's presence in the midst of everyday, mundane, activities. We must also learn to listen to and for God's voice, which we can only hear if we have first quieted ourselves. The book also explores the practices of lectio divino and examen as ways to slow down, study Scripture, and hear what God wants to tell us.
Sine also suggests other, less familiar practices that can also be used as tools for drawing closer to God. These include labyrinths, prayer beads, works of art, coloring, and blogging. Rewriting a psalm or section of Scripture to reflect personal experience may also create greater awareness of God's presence. As examples, Sine include several versions of the Lord's Prayer written from different perspectives.
Different methods work for different people. One of the benefits of Sine's book is her encouragement for readers to pursue diverse means of drawing close to God, instead of following a one-size-fits-all approach. While some of the methods presented in her book are commonly known, others are more creative. All of them, regardless of style, have the potential to help the reader's faith journey.
As intimidating as Returning to Our Senses may sound, it is not geared towards hyper-spiritual followers of Jesus. Instead, it is for those who, like Brother Lawrence, are searching for God in the everyday events of life. God shows up in surprising places if we only take the time to look. Returning to Our Senses is not for those who need a quick devotional but those looking for guidance towards a more contemplative way of life.
Karen Sellers is dual degree MDiv/International Development student at Palmer Theological Seminary/Eastern University. She enjoys reading and researching a variety of topics.