The Beginnings of a Life of Prayer, by Archimandrite Irenei, (Steenberg)
Published by St Herman of Alaska, Brotherhood 2012
This book is highly recommended, and is considered one of the best books in English on prayer. In our times, Christians face many distractions and challenges of modern life. As a result, prayer is often seen as either too difficult to sustain, or too abstract to properly experience. The Beginnings of a Life of Prayer is a profound guide to understanding and cultivating prayer for the contemporary Christian.
Fr Irenei divides the book into two parts. The first is on self-examination, or “taking stock of our struggle”. In this section, prayer is explained as a response to a call from Christ. This concept is studied in depth before any practical matters are discussed, as the correct mindset towards prayer is essential. Fr Irenei expresses that we must desire to abandon our sinful nature before we can begin to pray, as only a correct orientation of our soul towards God and a movement away from sin, can lead to progress in our struggle for holiness.
The second part of the book instructs on various spiritual subjects relating to prayer. These include the virtues, the passions, the Mysteries, and the benefits of prayer. The ideas are discussed in brief writings, allowing for greater contemplation by the reader, and each subject is practical and insightful. The Beginnings of a Life of Prayer is not intended to be a resource on how to pray specifically, but an in-depth study on the principles of prayer, as well as the place of prayer in the life of a struggling Christian.
It aims to open our eyes to our spiritual state and our need to be in constant prayer with the Lord. In this way we are called to attain the goal of the Christian life, the Kingdom of God.
Source: Lychnos August / September 2016