A Book that Delights
Whispers that Delight stands squarely in the tradition of the great spiritual masters of the Christian Faith. The author quotes often from writers such as St. John of the Cross, Catherine of Genoa, Brother Lawrence, Julian of Norwich, Mother Teresa and many others. At the same time, he writes as a contemporary, struggling with the practical issues that each of us living in today’s world must face. He is a modern-day mystic, working out what spirituality means for himself in the here and now and helping us to do the same.
The main theme of the book is prayer, and the author uses the acronym PARE to provide an easy-to-follow pattern for our approach to God. When I first started reading the book, I worried that this “pattern” might be presented as a wooden formula. This did not turn out to be the case, at all. The discussion quickly gave way to full-orbed exploration of our relationship with God for which PARE was merely a stepping stone.
As one reads the book, one can easily believe that God is vibrantly alive and available to each of us. Andrew Hawkins’ picture of God is thoroughly attractive and winsome. The book is not so much a study of God as it is an invitation to know Him through Jesus Christ, interact with Him, and enjoy Him.
I found Whispers providing fresh insight and new encouragement for my own walk with God. Along the way, inevitably, I encountered points that I questioned or did not fully understand, yet, when this happened, I found myself wishing I could sit down with the author to explore the topic further. This is because he not only writes as an expert but as a fellow learner, and I found myself believing he would invite that kind of dialogue.
All in all, I found Whispers that Delight insightful, and helpful. Perhaps, “nourishing” is the word that describes it best for me.
(Posted on Amazon.com by Tom Baird, pastor – http://www.amazon.ca/Whispers-That-Delight-Andrew-Hawkins/product-reviews/1897373163/ref=sr_1_1_cm_cr_acr_txt?ie=UTF8&showViewpoints=1)
June 2009 Whispers that Delight won the Word Guild Canadian Christian Writing Award 2009 for the category of Biblical Studies. (http://www.thewordguild.com/contestsawards/2009winners.html)
Sept. 2009 God With Us: Finding Joy (Blog by Joanna Mallory)
“Does your prayer life seem like a one-way conversation? Do you have difficulty quieting yourself to listen to God?”
These questions from the back cover of Whispers That Delight may evoke quiet “yes” responses from many Christians. Andrew Hawkins knows better than to offer an instant fix. Instead, his PARE approach is a framework within which we can deepen our prayer like. And it can be used whether you have ten minutes or an hour.
It seems paradoxical to suggest the way to more intimate communion with God could come through a structured format, although the Old Testament Israelites wouldn’t have found it so. In Whispers That Delight the format is simply the means to a desirable end, and the author makes it clear that the Holy Spirit’s prompting must take precedence over externally-imposed structure.
The acronym PARE describes Rev. Hawkins’ pattern for prayer, and he reminds us that to pare is to cut or shave away thin layers. As we pare off “the superficial things which occupy our minds,” (p. viii) he promises we’ll discover more of God.
P is for preparation, when we refocus from ourselves to the goodness of God in praise and thanksgiving. This is also where we confess anything that’s inhibiting our communion with God and receive His forgiveness and restoration.
A is attentiveness, with our spirits fixed on God’s presence to hear what He may have to say. One person may “hear” words, another impressions or images, another through reading and meditating on Scripture.
R is our response: to love, to intercede or repent, to act. Rev. Hawkins says, “Although God gives specific guidance and even surprises us with supernatural directives, when we meet him in prayer he primarily empowers us to do what we already know to do.” (p. 95)
E is a fitting end: enjoyment. Instead of rushing off into the day with a “Thanks, God!” we need to take time to linger a few minutes in His presence, just for the experience of being with Him.
Not that we should stop praying then—the concept of prayer without ceasing, practicing His presence, is worth pursuit. But our intimate, one-on-One prayer session has ended for another day.
Whispers That Delight comes with three appendices, one of which I think would serve better at the beginning: “Tips on Reading Whispers That Delight”. Essentially, the tips are “Read with the heart, read small portions at a time, and to go deeper, study the quoted Scriptures.”
Reading in bite-sized chunks is definitely wise. This isn’t at all a hard read, but the subject itself requires careful consideration and prayerful pondering. To breeze through Whispers That Delight would be to “read” the words and miss their effect on our hearts. I’m glad I took it slowly.
Rev. Andrew T. Hawkins is a Canadian author, and pastor to St. Paul’s Congregational Church in Ontario. Whispers That Delight is a book for all denominations and levels of faith, and it received The Word Guild 2009 Writing Award in the Book—Biblical Studies category.
More than a few Christians will confess to a less than satisfying prayer life. Andrew Hawkins may have just the remedy to breathe fresh life into our communication with God.
Drawing from two time-tested practices of the Church – the traditional four-fold order for corporate worship (gathering, word, response, dismissal) and the lectio divina (reading, meditation, prayer, contemplation) – Hawkins has created an amazingly simple yet profoundly rich pattern for cultivating a “listening-centred prayer life.”
His pattern is easily remembered by the acronym PARE: Preparation, Attentiveness, Response and Enjoyment. To “pare” is to cut –off or pare away something, and Hawkins believes this is an excellent concept when applied to prayer: “The need to pare away the superficial things which occupy our minds screams at us when we make an attempt to quiet ourselves to listen to God.”
Following his outline, readers will discover the value of preparing through praise and confession. In fleshing out the section on attentiveness, Hawkins reminds us that our god is a God who speaks, who desires to communicate with His children and, though God can and has communicated in various ways, His common avenue of communication is through Scripture. The chapter on Scripture meditation is, in my view, the heart and soul of hearing the voice of God in prayer.
As we hear from God, we respond to Him in both prayer and daily activities. How we live is a critically important part of a listening-centred prayer life. And (as those who experience this kind of prayer learn) genuine listening-centred prayer results in the sheer enjoyment of being in the presence of God.
Eminently practical, biblically rooted and historically sensitive, Whispers That Delight will reward careful readers with an achievable path to experiencing God in daily prayer. I highly recommend this book. Excerpts available at www.listeningprayer.net.
BlogCritics Magazine May. 20, 2008
Book Review – Andrew T. Hawkins
As I dug into the one hundred and fifty six pages of Whispers that Delight by Andrew T. Hawkins I very quickly discovered the reason for it being shortlisted in the Word Alive Press non-fiction annual best book contest. This practical guide to prayer has plunged deep into the theological truths of communication with God.
Reverend Hawkins begins his teachings by pointing out the need for structure. Using his own life’s experiences he shows us how structure can build the foundation for a true and pure connection with our Lord. He strips away the fallacy that we must always feel good feelings and that joy and happiness are always the end result of prayer. And in this stripping away, he replaces old notions with new ones that force us to recognize that prayer is often an act of will. Yet Reverend Hawkins doesn’t stop there. He points out that by activating our wills, we take the focus off of ourselves and put it onto Christ and his attributes. It is then that we experience the joy that scripture promises when coming before God.
Whispers that Delight teaches us how to praise without the feeling of dreary repetition. We are shown the value of confession—what it is and how it can benefit our walk with God. Reverend Hawkins opens our eyes to the difference between shame and guilt and the power of Christ’s atonement. He clarifies the oft misused phrase of ‘coming before the throne of God with boldness’. Through stories drawn from history, we learn how to become attentive to God’s voice and we discover that God truly is a speaking God though his voice can be heard in so many different ways.
This book reveals much in the way of practical application as it offers suggestions on scriptural meditation and response. We are made aware of the tug of will and desire and taught how to combat our temptations with our petitions and praise. Reverend Hawkins closes down the book with two wonderful chapters. Chapter Seven calls us to respond to our Lord more and more as true and pure lovers and Chapter Eight brings us to the end result of an effective prayer life—joy. He teaches us in this final group of sentences that true joy is the longing for God’s presence and the thrill of basking in that presence.
Whispers that Delight is a book that should be used in any theological seminary but it isn’t limited to the intense study group. By reading this book, I find myself seeking God’s voice in areas I never thought to look and that makes this book a must for anyone seeking God.