cover image The Tree of Life: Models of Christian Prayer

The Tree of Life: Models of Christian Prayer

Steven Chase, . . Baker Academic, $19.99 (299pp) ISBN 978-0-8010-2762-8

Karl Barth once observed that to pray and to be a Christian are one and the same. Chase, professor of Christian spirituality at Western Theological Seminary, points out that the tree of life in Christian spiritual tradition is the deeply rooted habit of practicing various models of prayer. Using the metaphor of a growing tree, he traces different types of prayer through Christian history and in the lives of contemporary believers. Thus, prayer as conversation provides the deep roots of the tree of life; prayer as relationship is the sturdy trunk that provides constant support; prayer as journey is the branching of the tree of life; prayer as transformation provides the new buds that grow on that tree; and prayer as presence is the flowering and bearing of fruit. Chase digs up the writings of mystics such as Teresa of Avila, Julian of Norwich, and Richard of St. Victor as he cultivates the images of the tree of life that give root to these prayer practices. Much like a gardener carefully tending to his plot, Chase sows the seeds of prayerful practice that, with constant nurture, will spread deep roots and produce fragrant blossoms. (Nov.)