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Imagine that prayer is like a fine, savory French meal--a flow of courses, one as good as the next, creative recipes, infusing all your senses, enticing a return for more.
David Brazzeal stirs together a love of all things French in his innovative prayer practices, adding a dash of international adventure to concoct an inspiring, reinvigorating prayer experience. Fun and profound, from confession to meditation, observing to lamenting to praising, this book is full of practical ways to change your life with God forever.
Number of Pages: 192
Vendor: Paraclete Press
Publication Date: 2015
|Dimensions: 8.50 X 7.00 (inches)|
Series: Active Prayer
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I attended a local Catholic church on Ash Wednesday this past February. Admittedly, I was nervous because Im always afraid Ill 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. Ive tried to pinpoint what touched me so much in those initial moments. Was it nerves? Fear Id be found out? A memory?
After a few months of tossing it around in my mind, I think Ive 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 youre 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 Im 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. Traci, Traces Of Faith
From the moment you read the Menu, oops, my error! Lets start again. From the moment you read the Table of Contents, Pray Like A Gourmet becomes a banquet for the soul and for the spirit. Since when has prayer been such a mouth-watering, taste bud awakening experience? Like food and wine, artisan bread and spring-fed water, prayer in its multiple forms is to be savoured as it feeds our inner beings. Prayer is the place of communion and of life-giving union with God. No room for deprivation here. Come and most heartily feast! Pierre LeBel, Teacher and author of Imago Dei: devenir pleinement humain, YWAM Leader in Canada.
David takes the simplicity of gospel and makes it come alive in a most imaginative way. Using metaphors of food, he leads the reader through practices of prayer and time with God that enrich our relationship with the Father. Pray Like a Gourmet is written for the seasoned follower of Jesus but also for those who are new to the faith. Chris Julian, university campus minister in Rio Grande du Sul, Brazil
In Pray Like a Gourmet, influenced by his rich culinary experience in Paris, I learn about new tools and tantalizing ingredients to add to the shelves of my prayer closet, ones I have never sampled before. Brazzeal describes traditional prayer forms like Praise, Gratitude, and Confession but adds some newcomers for me like Blessing, Observing, and Joining. For each prayer form, he provides creative, embodied ways to practice them. He is both a playful host and a serious chef at this delicious prayer banquet. Pray Like a Gourmet whets my appetite to expand and to enrich my prayer life. It is a book to use over and over again. With highlights, notes and turned-down pages, I might just want to make a space for it in the kitchen, right next to my favorite cookbook. Sybil MacBeth, author of Praying in Color: Drawing a New Path to God
We all get stuck in our life of prayer… eating from the same old menu over and over. In Pray Like a Gourmet David reveals a whole new side of the menu that many do not know exists. If your prayer life has grown bland and tasteless, you definitely need to read this menu. It will take you to a new culinary level of praying, whetting your appetite to pray more deeply, enriching your life to live more freely and fully in Christ. Randy Rains, Associate Vice President for Spiritual Life & Formation, International Mission Board, SBC, Richmond, Virginia
Ive learned to devour books quickly but this one made me slow down. Reading about prayer is no substitute for taking the time to put into practice at least some of the numerous suggestions presented here. Prepare for a long sit-down meal because this is not fast food, its a feast. Paul H. de Neui, PhD, Professor of Intercultural Studies and Missiology, Director of the Center for World Christian Studies, North Park Theological Seminary, Chicago, Illinois
David Brazzeal is an artist and consummate aesthete who experiences the wonder and beauty of life to the full. In this book he brings fresh eyes to old ingredients and lets us in on the "secret" sauce recipes that can make prayer really, really tasty. In delightfully lyrical yet simple language he describes food and prayer in ways that make me hungry for both. Mark Scandrette, author of FREE, Soul Graffiti and Practicing the Way of Jesus. San Francisco, California
Increasingly, as a pastor in a local church, church members come to me and asksometimes plainly and sometimes cautiously cloaked in other words"How can I know God?" These good people are Christian and already know a great deal about God. They believe. But a hunger in their souls whispers that they know more about God than they know the very self of God. And so, increasingly, I have a calling to help others find their way toward a richer life of prayer. David Brazzeals Pray like a Gourmet is a wonderful new resource for all of us who long to feast with God and for those of us who lead in Christian congregations. Davids open heart and deep experience shine through all he writes and even the stodgiest of us longs for new adventures in prayer. I rejoice that I may share this book with my congregation. Rev. Lynn Smilie Nesbitt, United Methodist Pastor, Dothan, Alabama
Prayer, possibly the next frontier in faith, has been locked up and is often a prisoner of tradition. Not that the saints of old and biblical examples should be trivialized, but there is more to explore of our conversation with our creator and king. The most creative surely relishes our celebration and pursuit of His heart. Thank you, David Brazzeal, for painting a new canvas of conversation. Joan Tankersley, Creative Director, Producer, Writer: Retronuvo Media, Houston, Texas
As someone who creates prayer experiences for a living, its so nice to find a kindred spirit! Pray Like a Gourmet is filled with great stories that help us expand our definitions of prayer, but more importantly David gives us creative ways to pray! I stopped while reading and actually did them! Thanks to Pray like a Gourmet, I have lots of new ingredients to add to my prayer practice! And David has encouraged me to get out my sauté pan and allow God, the Master Chef, to sauté new flavors into my life with Him. Lilly Lewin, Founder of Thinplace and author of Sacred Space
David Brazzeal invites us into the "haute cuisine and the gourmet lifestyle" of Christian spirituality. I like to think of spirituality in the tradition as being alive and deeply rooted in the life of the Creator God in our rootedness in Jesus Christ by the power of the Holy Spirit in the world and for the world. Spiritual formation therefore takes many forms as we move deeper into the life of the Creator. This book is a fun and imaginative way to pursue those practices that allow us to receive the grace, so essential to that journey. Thanks David for a fine contribution to the literature! Glenn Smith, professor, author and executive director of Christian Direction, Montréal, Québec
We all get bored with the same old fare, eating the same meal everyday. How many days of leftovers can you handle? Brazzeals book is an invitation to a richer and more varied spiritual diet. He is a Creative, and sees the intimate link between creativity and spirituality. I absolutely love the recipes and am eager to make more and taste more. There is a nice balance between form and improvisation (he gives you a structure but doesnt expect you to follow it woodenly) Brazzeal also has a rare gift of cutting through the ethereal and offering a practical approach to prayer. For example, his exploration of confession exhorts us to acknowledge sin and screw-ups, but he sets this in the wider category of a reality check and taking an honest assessment of our life and circumstances (see chapter eight). He offers practical suggestions and clarifications on every aspect of prayer listed.
I give this book five stars and recommend it to anyone feeling stuck, hungry, or bored in their prayer life.--James Matichuk
Just as a good meal will offer a full range to the palate from light to heavy, from savory to sweet, Pray Like a Gourmet encourages the reader to experience a wide range of prayer practices. Brazzeal offers a number of "prayer recipes" from his own experiences. He describes many simple prayer activities designed to help one break out of his or her prayer-time rut. Throughout the process, the author encourages the reader to live with gratitude and to take note of the world in which we live....
Brazzeal advocates a number of different ways to practice prayer and meditation such as walking through the park and taking note of the people you see, doing a "museum meditation" at the local museum of art, or a "forest walk" to nurture a sense of wonder, praise, and gratitude.
A quick glance at the Table of Contents will show the reader something of the range of prayer practices that the author presents: praising, thanking, confessing, blessing, observing, meditating, asking, interceding, etc. He even includes an important section on lamenting. Here the author very skillfully guides the reader in how to bring our sorrows and losses before God. The lament is a form of prayer we can find in scripture, but it is often not covered in your typical religious instruction. It is certainly not addressed enough within the context of prayer and it is one more indication of the books authenticity that it is not just the "nice and lovely" that we include in our prayers to God. Moreover, as the author points out very early on in the book, prayer is not just a matter of asking for things.
Having been to one of David Brazzeals Prayer Tastings, and now having read his book, I can heartily recommend Pray Like a Gourmet for individual or group study. Charles Kinnaird
Author: David Brazzeal
Located in: France
Submitted: April 25, 2017
Tell us a little about yourself. I'm presently living in a small French town where I'm helping a new church get started - very creative work actually. But since 1986, my wife and I have worked cross-culturally with the arts in places like Seattle, Rio de Janeiro, Guadeloupe, Montréal, and Paris. I like to say that my passion is helping my creative friends deepen their spirituality and encouraging my spiritual friends to heighten their creativity.
What was your motivation behind this project? Well, I started praying much more creatively decades ago, which I kept very secret at the time, in fear that others would tell me that it was somehow wrong. Through the years, my innovative prayer practices have expanded and my willingness to share them has opened up. In fact, each time I do, I realize that people are starving for fresh ideas to use when they are praying. So, I suppose all of this has led up to sharing my prayer style in book form through PRAY LIKE A GOURMET: Creative Ways to Feed Your Soul.
What do you hope folks will gain from this project? I actually how the book will radically change the way people pray. Our practicing definition of prayer is actually small and practically limited to just supplication and intercession. If you ask someone if they pray, that's what they will think you are asking - Do they ask God for things and do they ask God to help others. The reality is that they world of prayer extends way beyond just supplication and intercession. Just as the culinary world extends way beyond a hamburger and fries, delicious as they are. I hope people can learn to routinely explore the other "courses" available on the prayer menu like PRAISE, THANKSGIVING, BLESSING, MEDITATION, LAMENT, CO-MISSION, etc. And within each of these courses, I hope people can learn to express their prayers in creative, yet profound, multi-censorial ways. If our God is so extravagantly creative, why do we limit our communication to him with boring bowed-head, eyes-closed praying?
How were you personally impacted by working on this project? By far, the most profound impact on me has been to see that this book has hit its mark, that is HAS actually changed the way people pray. This is perhaps best illustrated by this comment from a reader - I have been a Christ follower since I was a small child, in ministry since the age of 17, have seminary and adult education degrees, published 11 books, written Bible study curriculum for 35 years, and your book changed the way I pray!
Who are your influences, sources of inspiration or favorite authors / artists? Oh boy! This is a tough one. There have been so many great people influencing my life. As an artistically creative person, however, I've had a continuing desire to apply this creativity to my faith, and that means questioning it, examining it, deconstructing and reconstructing it. I'm most grateful to those friends and authors who have accompanied me and encouraged me in this journey, such as Anne Lamotte, Brian McLaren, Phyllis Tickle, Mark Scandrette, Michael Frost, Leonard Sweet, just to name a few.
Anything else you'd like readers / listeners to know: I would love to have feedback from readers, not only to hear that the book has encouraged them, but I'd love to hear the creative prayer practices that it has stimulated them to develop. So stay connected and let me hear your ideas! praylikeagourmet @ gmail.com @praylikegourmet