I received a copy of Pray Like a Gourmet written by David Brazzeal, from NetGalley for the purpose of generating a review. Italicized quotes are either Bible verses or quotes from the book. The opinions expressed here are my own. This book releases this week!
I attended a local Catholic church on Ash Wednesday this past February. Admittedly, I was nervous because I’m always afraid I’ll do something wrong in a Catholic church. What if I put my hand in the holy water and a siren goes off because it recognizes me as Protestant?
But I need the holy water.
Before the service started, I took a seat in the back. In the silence, as I looked around the beautiful sanctuary, tears came to my eyes. The whole moment was beautiful.
I’ve tried to pinpoint what touched me so much in those initial moments. Was it nerves? Fear I’d be found out? A memory?
After a few months of tossing it around in my mind, I think I’ve figured out why I was so moved. My whole body participated in the worship. My hands touched holy water. My eyes took in the beauty of the sanctuary before closing in prayer. I smelled the ashes, remains of the palm branches, long before I saw them. I would have nothing to taste as I cannot participate in Catholic Communion. I could hear nothing, then quietly, music infiltrated the room.
It felt so good to worship Jesus with my whole self. Is it possible to incorporate that into my everyday worship? Would that make worship more meaningful?
About a month later, while still processing these thoughts, I had an opportunity to read an advanced copy of Pray Like A Gourmet, written by David Brazzeal.
First, the author lives in France. If anyone knows gourmet....
This beautifully illustrated book explores this very concept. Can we enhance our worship, indeed our entire relationship, with God by engaging more of our senses?
Is there something in your spirit that keeps telling you it should be different: more interesting, more engaging, more creative, more profound? Does your prayer life feel like you’re eating the same food over and over every day - mixing the same ingredients but hoping for a new, more enticing dish?
In culinary circles around the world, many people are now pushing back and taking the time to peel, chop, and cook locally grown food with their own unique flair. We, too, can push back and engage in seeking authentic, calm, and refreshing nourishment for our soul - each one of us, of course, with our own flair.
For David, he started developing this desire for more back in the 80s. In Rio de Janeiro. He started learning how to sit in the silence of God. Listening to all that was going on inside him. Blocking out all the outside noise.
Here is a starting-point prayer exercise; start by simply telling God how great and wonderful he is. Use lots of adjectives as ingredients. Explore the well-stocked spice rack of his intriguing and sometimes exotic names.
Of course, his journey introduced him to some great writers and saints from the past. He generously introduces his readers to these individuals too. Madame Guyon, St. Francis of Assisi. Richard Foster. To name a few.
The prayer of Adoration must be learned. It does not come automatically... Thanksgiving, praise, adoration - those are seldom the first words in our minds... or on our lips. We need all the help we can get in order to move into a deeper, fuller adoring. - Richard Foster
Part one of the book gives us all the tools to “set up a basic kitchen with God.” Then, in part two, he gives you activities to feast with God one on one.
He answers such questions as:
What types of prayers exist?
What means of expression can I use to aid me when I pray?
Moving into part two, readers will find an invaluable resource. He shares his “recipes,” if you will. In my own words, here are a few of his suggestions:
Create art - praise. Put your art down on paper. Make a design. Hum your praises as you do so.
Recite the Psalms - out loud. Joyful noise. Laments. Converse with God.
Count the ways you are thankful. Live life in gratitude.
No matter what I go through, even the worst tragedy of my life, I can find some things for which I’m thankful - maybe only one little thing....
Offer (and receive) blessings.
Although I had nothing to offer in return, I came to understand that there was something beneficially reciprocal happening to the people who were blessing me... In so doing, they inevitably lived life on a higher plane, if only for a few moments. It always smelled like the kingdom of God to me.
This book works best as a workbook. Full of good truths to read. But better if you take the activities he suggests and do them yourself. In Psalm 34:8a, we are encouraged to:
Taste and see that the LORD is good.
It would appear David was on to something.
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