Book Review: A Rhythm of Prayer


A Rhythm of Prayer is a collection of gut-level prayers by women of faith. The project, conceived by Sarah Bessey, was envisioned as a new set of prayers to re-imagine and re-claim the work of God in the world. In an era of Christian nationalism and empirical rule, many voices have been ignored or silenced. The co-creators of this project sought to express their realities and struggling faith.

As Bessey writes in the Introduction:
When I first began to envision this book about prayer, I knew right away what I didn’t want to give you: a nice and tidy new set of prayers to co-opt for your own. Nope, what I wanted was equal part example and invitation, permission and challenge, to acknowledge the heaviness of our grief and at the same time broaden our hope. (p. XV)

These prayers are written by women whose scholarship and public speaking careers are legendary. Many are women I have followed for years. But this is not a cutesy women’s prayer book, bound in a pink cover with a complementary bookmark! Some of the words are full of cutting honesty, not to be skimmed over or taken lightly. Other prayers or litanies may anger or frustrate you. Still others will likely find you nodding your head in agreement, or angrily shouting, “YES!!!” with a pumped fist!

Several entries were written by kindred spirits, and I could fully join in the yearning and questions in their words. Others were scathing and brutally honest. The bold words of rebuke and correction stung, as well they should. For any white woman who would call herself an ally of persons of color, there is much to prayerfully consider in Dr. Chanequa Walker-Barnes’ Prayer of a Weary Black Woman.

There are some blank pages at the end of book provided for the reader, if one is so willing and brave, to write one’s own prayer. I can think of no higher compliment that to fill those pages with my own words of proclamation, lamentation, confession, and hope.

A Rhythm of Prayer. Sarah Bessey, editor. (c) 2021 Convergent Books, an imprint of Random House, New York. Hardback 153 pages. ISBN: 978-0-5931372-1-5

Disclosure of Material Connection: I purchased this book on my own initiative and offer my review as my own perceptions and reflections on this book. I received no reimbursement nor compensation for this review.

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