A few weeks ago I received a copy of Everybody’s Little Book of Everyday Prayers by Cynthia MacGregor. I won the book on Library Thing as part of their Early Reviewers program. The caveat of receiving the book for free is to review it.
The book is made up of several sections: an introduction, general prayers, prayers for specific occasions, and prayers of supplication and thanks. In the introduction, MacGregor shares her ambitious goal of the book …
“This book is for you – whatever your religious affiliation- even if you have no religious affiliation at all. This book is for you, whether you’re a Protestant, Jew or Catholic, a member of one of the many religions of the world or an unaffiliated believer … This book is for you.
Like I said, very ambitious. The problem is the book was not for me. Nor would I feel good about anyone using it as a guide to praying to God. I feel bad writing this and wish I felt the book had any utility. MacGregor is very clear in her introduction that any and all of her prayers could be fashioned to fit someone’s specific belief. This unfortunately is not true for me.
A prayer from the general prayers section offers a good example of what I mean…
O God you know what is best for me. You know what is in my heart and what are the things I want in this life for me, for those I love and for this very world itself. If it is your will, I pray that my wishes and prayers will be granted, but if it is not Your will, then help me to accept my lot in life and Your plan for me, those I hold dear and for all the others whom I pray.
So what’s wrong with that, you might ask? Nothing, that part is fine. It continues for a few more lines that I mostly agree with and then …
and may I never rely too heavily on You, but that remember that it is up to me to do whatever I can toward gaining my goals.
Didn’t you just say the God knows what is best and knows what is in my heart? To me that means that God is all good and all knowing. How can we EVER rely too heavily on an all good and all knowing God?
In another prayer in the same section she says …
“It is said that God created man in His image, yet how dare we assume that we are in any way God-Like?”
The thing is the person who said God was created in His image is actually God, the person this prayer is intended for.
This brings up one of the main issues I have against this book. In order to appeal to everyone it loses sight of the main reason we pray. We need God’s help. The main reason we need God’s help is because we are sinners. There is no mention of sin in this book, sure it talks about temptation and faults but not sin. There is no mention of Jesus or a Messiah in this book the Catholics and Christians this book was intended for believe in Jesus and the Jews this book was intended for are still waiting for a Messiah. When Holidays are mentioned Easter and Passover are not mentioned, Christmas is only mentioned in prayers for taking down and putting up the Christmas Tree. I understand the author’s desire to be inclusive and not exclusive. But there is a prayer in the book for paying off your mortgage wasn’t she afraid of offending apartment dwellers?
I hate that I hate this book. I hoped this book would be written to bring everyone closer to God, but after a careful reading of it, it seems like the author thinks that everyone is okay where they were. If that was true we would not need to pray.