Book Review: Opening to God
Author: Thomas H. Green, S.J.
Publisher: Ave Maria Press
I make no secret about the fact that I am a prayer “junky.” I love practicing prayer, learning about prayer, collecting prayer books…praying with prayer books, and almost anything having to do with prayer, I am eager to jump in and learn. I have had several friends recommend to me, the writing of Thomas H. Green, S.J. on the subject of prayer. As I was searching his body of work—he has written over a dozen books—I found the title Opening to God: A Guide to Prayer. I noticed the book was in its second printing and had experienced a printing and circulation life of over thirty-six years! I figured this would be a good title to become introduced to Thomas Green.
Opening to God is a short book; not counting preface, introduction, and epilogue, the actual meat of the book clocks in at around seventy-five pages. Don’t let its diminutive size fool you though, this tiny tome is chock-full of wisdom and practical instructions for becoming a better pray-er.
“Prayer is not to be used, but is to be lived.” -Thomas Green, Opening to God (p. 44)
The book is written in two parts; Part One is “The What and Why of Prayer” and features three chapters that help to flesh out the nuance of what prayer is and how it is relevant to the believer. I especially enjoyed chapter three (The Relevance of Prayer: Discernment). Part Two of the book, “The How of Prayer,” was my favorite. There was a lot of highlighting and writing in the margins by me in this last half of the book…really, really good stuff here. The chapter titles for part two follow: Are There Techniques of Prayer, The Active Purification of the Soul, The Ways of Prayer of Beginners, and the epilogue, Prayer Beyond the Beginnings.
“The same need is present in our prayer life, our love relationship with God. Genuine love of God also demands a time of courtship. Here, too, we can only love one whom we know… Before we can fully respond to his love freely poured out in us, we must come to know him… Meditation means precisely this—taking time to learn who this God is whom we are drawn to love… what he stands for, what he values, and what it would mean to be his friend.” -Thomas Green, Opening to God (p. 96)
This is a great little book on the subject and practice of prayer. It is good for “seasoned” pray-ers and novices alike. I think the book might be especially helpful for small group studies. Fr Green includes a small section at the end of each chapter, which includes questions for reflection and discussion.