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Book Review: The Path of Celtic Prayer

In Calvin Miller’s, The Celtic Prayer it is a spiritual book unlike any other. What the title of this book might be misinterpreted by the  reader is that is that it is not an in-depth study on Celtic tradition, lore, or history, instead Miller shares the Celtic way on how to utilize prayers on an everyday basis. The way that Miller tries to introduce the Celtic tradition on prayer is by showing the reader six forms of prayers that show how to develop a deeper relationship to God and better help people pray to guide you through the uncertainties that people face.  Miller shares that, “I hope to offer you some aspects of Celtic spiritual practices as a springboard that might enable your prayer life to reach new heights.” The following are the six forms of prayer ideas, the Trinity Prayer, Scripture Prayer, Long and Wandering Prayer, Nature Prayer, Lorica Prayer, and the Confessional Prayer.

The way that Miller writes is not stuffy or the feeling of reading a How-To guide, however Miller tries to heavily romantized the way in which the Celtics worship. Their spiritually is just the same as modern day Christians, Catholics, and other religions that is built around the Trinity and the pathway to God. He endures that the Celtic of yore were more discipline in their adoration and worship, as Miller put it, “a faith of great vitality.” Millers main focus is to set out to teach people different ways of prayer by practicing the Celtic way, in proposing “a kind of prayer that can end our amputated feelings of separateness from God,” Miller balances between trying to offer more technique or explanations as opposed to sound advice about a lifelong spiritual discipline. Yet Miller has written a nice book that guides readers with historical references to and examples of Celtic prayer. He even provides the reader with exercises at the end of each chapter to help the reader take the theory into an everyday practice.

The Trinity Prayer, the Art of loving God, as Miller emphatically writes, “When they sang or prayed or hunted or played, they did so in the presence of the Father, Son and Holy Spirit.” (pg, 35) This prayer was made to worship all three entities, Jesus, God, and the Holy Spirit. Instead of “putting the load” on just one part of the Trinity, this prayer was meant to honor them all. When Catholics or Christian worship they only pray to one source, however the Celts would say a prayer for all in order,” the primary reason the Celts focused on the Trinity was their own sense that the one God is manifested in plural majesty.” (Miller, pg 36). The way that Celts symbolize all three of the Trinity was by showcasing it in their Crosses and other artwork.  Their prayers were simple and to the point as Miller shows, the prayer is simple yet shows the dedication and admiration of the oneness with God and entire Trinity.

The Scripture Prayer, Praying the Bible Back to Its Author, was a prayer that helps get the person back to the word. A way to build a closer relationship with God, by trying to fully understand the words the way it is written down. Miller writes that, “we ought to use the Bible in our private prayers to remind us of the fullness of Godhead….reading the author’s word back to us bind us into union with him.” (Miller, pg 57) The purpose of this prayer is a trying to get the reader to develop a closer bond by manifesting on the word.

The Long, Wandering Prayer, Seeing Life as a Single, Unending Prayer, is a prayer that helps those that are seeking for answers, not knowing where to turn in moments where life seems uncertain or cloudy. This prayer is probably more relatable out of all the prayers he has illustrated. The Celtics were able to use this prayer when they needed to remain in their faith and look towards the future. Nature Prayer, Poetry and Praise in Ordinary Life, is also a prayer that reminds the Celtics and others to rejoice and give thanks for the small blessings in their lives. This prayer showed how the Celtics would give thanks in poetry or songs like they did in the book of Psalms. A way to show God that they were grateful in all of God’s natural beauty. “Their love for nature and God who stood beneath, behind, above it issued in their sculptures, craft, poetry, and songs.” (Miller, pg 107)
Lorica Prayer, Asking God for Protection, usually meant as a breastplate for protection. One of the easily transferable prayers that many Christians can relate to. The Celtics said this prayer to give them protection in order to prosper in their kingdom, and give them protection from their enemies. They did not ask for long life but instead for them to prosper. The breastplate is way to protect the heart and not rely on magic or other sources that weren’t godly. The last prayer, the Confessional Prayer, is prayer for a living in agreement with God. This prayer was established by the Celtics, “is a privilege that grows out of a love affair with God.” (Miller, pg 135) This prayer is a way to get your “story” out and confess your sins, while asking for forgiveness in order to remain or get in God’s good graces. This prayer is one of the most serious as this daily ritual is applied by any religion and practiced diligently by believers.

From my own personal perspective of the book, Miller tries to introduce his knowledge of the Celtic Way of spiritual worship. It is clear that Miller has done his research on Celtic traditions and history. From his writings it is clear that he is enamored by the way that they worship God throughout all their trials and circumstances. However, Miller states that his main focuses for writing this book,

“ I have written this book for two reasons. First, I want to address the way the Celtic people related to God to keep their devotion centered on the Savior. But I also want to demonstrate how these ancient lovers of God were able to strip away institutional business and empty religiosity that can separate Christians from Christ.”

What he tries to criticize that the Celtics were better worshippers of Christians today. The level of dedication and admiration that Miller shows in his book is at an all-time high. Celtics would generally get up in the morning and say their prayers, they would pray throughout the day, when working, cooking, and other tasks. The Celtics were devoted into honoring God, Jesus, and the Holy Spirit in everything that they did. When Miller share his six different forms of prayer by explaining and giving his own interpretation of how the six types of prayer were made by the Celtics. What Miller does do is toe the line between syncretism and paganism.

However that being said, this book was very enriching and went well with trying to develop a deeper relationship with God. There are several information and circumstances that the Celtics went through that resonate with situations going on in today’s world. Miller fulfilled his purpose in trying to get readers to focus on different ways to build a better relationship and learning new ways to pray. Each of these prayers could be used in my daily life as I try to navigate through the many uncertainness that I face each day. Knowing the right prayer to turn to in order to get the results that I would want is a proactive way to utilize my faith.

The Nature prayer is significant because it helps me praise things in my ordinary life. I can set time aside and give thanks for just the little blessings and feel that I am closer to God. Lorica Prayer is a prayer that I incorporate in to my morning and night rituals asking for protection on where I go, my family, and my friends. The confessional prayer is also essential in helping me to confess my sins to God, learning from my mistakes, and finding new ways to achieve my goals. With each of the prayers that Miller mention, each have a special place in the way I go about my day  from the time I rise to the time I lay my head. With my own ritual of prayer through the teachings of my faith, I can take bits of what was written by Miller and incorporate them into the style that is comfortable to me.

References

Miller, Calvin. The Path of Celtic Prayer – An Ancient Way to Everyday Joy. (2007). InterVarsity Press