• By Fr. Thomas Dubay, S.M.

  • Paperback 188 pages ($9 – $11)
  • Publisher:  Servant Books (April 2002)
  • ISBN: 978-1569553398

While the title of this book (Prayer Primer ) seams to indicate that is it a book for beginners of prayer, it contains much more. It was the “other” contents that I found the most valuable. The other content is also valuable for people that have been praying for quite some time and may not consider themselves beginners anymore. The book is filled with references to the Bible, typically the Psalms and the Gospel. References are also made to The Catechism of the Catholic Church, documents from the Second Vatican Counsel, and three of the author’s other books. These references provide the reader with significant help to pursue selected topics in greater depth.

The chapters of the book are arranged in four sections: Preliminaries, Interpersonal Union, Church and Family, Questions and Problems. The five chapters of the Preliminaries section serve as inspiration to the reader to ignite a fire in their prayer life. The author does a great job of doing just that. The four chapters of the second section cover Fr. Dubay’s three stages of prayer: Vocal, Meditative, and Contemplative. These three chapters are preceded by a chapter that provides some general spiritual direction for the reader. This spiritual direction is prevalent throughout the book, and includes a few references to the author’s own book titled: “Seeking Spiritual Direction”.

In section three on Church and Family, the four chapters provide the reader an overview of the main prayers of the Church: The Mass, The Bible (specifically the Psalms) and the Liturgy of the Hours. Also included in this section is a chapter on family Prayer, and a chapter on how we can make time for prayer in our busy lives. The fourth section contains five chapters that again take up the theme of providing spiritual direction for the reader.

The author’s main point is that in order to advance in depth of prayer, we must advance in our living out the message of the Gospel to our family and neighbors. This rising out of spiritual mediocrity is accomplished by the conscious decision to avoid venial sins by frequent partaking in the Sacrament of Reconciliation.

Fr. Dubay has a somewhat obvious bias against what he calls “Vocal Prayer”. He repeats more than once his dislike for repetitious prayers and formulas, while backing up this view point with the words of Jesus not to “babble like the pagans do”. His reasoning is that meditative and contemplative prayer are much more spiritually rewarding and our time should be spent in the highest form of prayer possible.

I found this book so enlightening that I finished it in 4 days, including the writing of this review. I recommend this book for someone that is looking for something different than the typical book listing 200-400 prayers. The spiritual direction that Fr. Dubay provides is well worth the price of the book.  Fr. Dubay is a master of prayer and spiritual direction and it shows in this book.