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I admit it: this past year, I went for months without having a disciplined time of prayer. I didn't stop praying altogether, of course. I sent up "arrow prayers" (God, help me get through this morning without collapsing!) and felt growing guilt over my missed devotions. I wasn't suffering from doubt: God was still real and powerful to me. But the act of prayer itself was empty. When I folded my hands to pray, my words yielded nothing. I'm doing something wrong, I thought.

Halfway through October, I picked up Susan Howatch's Absolute Truths at a booksale. And as I read, in quiet moments snatched before sleep, I discovered myself in the novel. I was the wife of the bishop, a woman spiritually drained, exhausted by the demands of parenthood

Absolute Truths
By Susan Howatch
Fawcett Crest, 1994
624 pp.; $6.50, paper

The Art of Prayer: A Simple Guide
By Timothy Jones
Ballantine Books, 1997
256 pp.; $11, paper

Prayer in the Unseen Warfare
By Jack N. Sparks
Conciliar Press, 1996
142 pp.; $9.95, paper

Dimensions of Prayer: Cultivating a Relationship with God
By Douglas V. Steere
Upper Room Books, 1997
128 pp.; $13.95, hardcover

Psalms for Praying: An Invitation to Wholeness
By Nan C. Merrill
Continuum Books, 1997
311 pp.; $16.95, paper
The Book of Daily Prayer, 1998
Edited by Kim Sadler
United Church Press, 1997
384 pp.; $12.95, paper

The Book of Uncommon Prayer
Edited by Daniel and Constance Pollock
Word, 1996
198 pp.; $16.99, hardcover

So Amazing, So Divine
By Isaac Watts
Paraclete Press, 1997
204 pp.; $10.95, paper

Children and Prayer: A Shared Pilgrimage
By Betty Shannon Cloyd
Upper Room Books, 1997
165 pp.; $11.95, paper

...

and a clerical marriage. Facing complicated relationships, difficult church duties, and a parish seething ...

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The Myth of a Better Prayer Life
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April 27, 1998

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