But whether you buy the book, subscribe to the podcast (effectively a free, chapter-wise audiobook), or download the full chapters in PDF, Miller will help expand your spiritual imagination and introduce you to a prayer practice or two that you probably haven’t encountered.
The great strength of this collection is its breadth. Familiar disciplines like centering prayer, rosaries, meditation, and the daily office appear alongside the likes of “nature practice,” “handwork practice,” and even “movie practice.” Miller understands the potential pitfalls of this expansive view and devotes appropriate attention to how to engage these disciplines mindfully and thus as prayer.
Like Chester Michael and Marie Norrisey in Prayer and Temperament, Miller has a knack for helping connect particular readers/listeners with practices well-suited to their personalities and spiritual journeys. I admire the way her guidance in this matter always engages both strength and shadow. Consider this example from “Hospitality Practice“:
Those who are naturally extroverted, or who enjoy conversing and learning from others, will find hospitality practice attractive. The struggle will not be so much the opening of the heart, but the closing of the mouth in order to hear the soft longings trying to be spoken from another’s soul. Those who are more interior and introverted may bristle at even the thought of engaging in this practice. The struggle for them will not be opening the heart or closing the mouth. It will be offering hospitality to those they don’t know or those with whom they have no comfortable relationship.
Because she anticipates what would draw someone to a practice and what might repel another, she is able to both commend “good fit” practices and defend “growing edge” ones. This serves the additional function of keeping the reader/listener engaged throughout the book.
What most excites me about Strength for the Journey is its flexbility and formats. I have already recommended this resource to someone looking to incorporate a faith practices component into parish foyer groups (aka “eat-and-meet“). I don’t think it would be a tough sell to get a group to listen to a chapter or two before settling down to discussion; almost all of them take less than ten minutes to read or listen to.
Leaders of small-group studies will surely appreciate the brevity (144 pages), the price tag (free if you use the podcast or PDFs), and the modularity (“this month, pick a practice to read about and try”). I chose to listen to Miller’s podcast episodes while commuting, and her reading is pleasant and clear.
If you’re looking to help yourself, another individual, or a group explore new ways to pray, Strength for the Journey is a thoughtful and accessible resource.
Kyle Matthew Oliver (@kmoliver) is the digital missioner and learning lab coordinator in the Center for the Ministry of Teaching. Has he mentioned he likes podcasts?