A writer calls for a more engaged personal Christianity.
This brief work from Bryant (God’s Servant, 2016, etc.) returns frequently to a dilemma that will be familiar to many modern-day Christians: the many demands of daily life and how those tasks can sometimes obscure the importance of their faith. “We might try to fit in a five-minute prayer before we retire for the night,” Bryant writes. “But we have to make the decision that being alone with God is something we cannot afford to neglect.” The author stresses again and again that the benefits of communing with God immensely outweigh the minor irritation of finding the time in a busy schedule. God, for Bryant, is the source of all strength and support in life. As subsequent chapters make clear, this remains true even in times of trouble, when the faithful might even feel that God has let them down. “But can we rise from the ashes of a wounded faith and once again believe in the power of God?” the author asks, citing both Scripture and the trials in her own life. The most pointed Scriptural analogy is of course the pairing of Lazarus’ sisters, Martha and Mary. Busy Martha is irritated that all the housework is left to her when Jesus visits their home and talks to the other guests. Mary has wisely decided to listen to Jesus’ teachings rather than helping her sister. The key to a more meaningful Christian fellowship, Bryant maintains, is to strike a successful balance between the spiritual and the material. In the book’s clear and concise prose and quick chapters, the author underscores the vital significance of “sustaining a consistent prayer life,” and although most of the author’s personal anecdotes are rather general, the intimate tone throughout is ultimately winning. The faith observations made in every chapter are often on the anodyne side, the kinds of easy sentiments that the author’s Christian readers will have heard many times in church. But the practical understanding in the backgrounds of all these reflections—Bryant’s clear noting of the distractions of daily life—should have many readers nodding in recognition.
A short, concentrated reminder for Christians that prayer remains one of the central missions of their faith.
A guide explores some of the trials facing modern-day Christians.
In this slim book, Bryant (God’s Servant, 2016, etc.) intertwines general observations about the problems facing fundamentalist Christians with more specific autobiographical segments. She tells the story of her spiritual overcompensations, at one point becoming a “prude” with no visible humanity. She recalls having a mental breakdown and being hospitalized in 2000, emerging in a fragile, unformed state and embarking on a “roller coaster” ride in her personal and spiritual life. The theme running through most of her personal tales is one of self-help, of having the strength and perspective to concentrate on herself. “I learned that the best way to demonstrate that I loved the ones who cared for me,” she writes, “was to take care of myself.” And the author keeps her eye on the bigger picture, reminding her readers that when it comes to invidious self-doubt and the envy of others, they should remember always that the only relationship they need to prioritize is the one with the Lord. The author recounts her struggles with self-image in moving terms; she finally reminded herself that she was as God made her. The book’s standout flaw stems directly from Bryant’s unwillingness to extend such understanding, implying at one point that both promiscuity and gay sexuality are the direct results of the “shame, confusion, and guilt” of sexual abuse. When the author herself was the victim of inappropriate fondling, she remembers that she briefly found herself attracted to women until intense prayer created a breakthrough and allowed her to throw off her “oppression.” The rest of the book is more welcoming, reminding Christian readers that they are called to service rather than status. The whole text is rendered in a clear, approachable tone that should appeal to readers who have been encountering obstacles of their own in their faith journeys.
An intensely personal manual outlining both the challenges and the hopes of key aspects of the Christian experience.