“If anything, these prayers are plain. They are so because I discovered I could not pray differently than I speak. In other words, I thought it would be a mistake to try to assume a different identity when I prayed. I figured . . . that God could take it, because God did not need to be protected. I think I learned this over the years by praying the Psalms in church. God does not want us to come to the altar different from how we live the rest of our lives. Therefore, I do not try to be pious or use pious language in these prayers. I try to speak plainly, yet I hope with some eloquence, since nothing is more eloquent than simplicity.”
So writes Stanley Hauerwas in the introduction to this collection of prayers that are as inimitable as the widely respected theologian himself. Originally prayed in Hauerwas’ divinity school classroom—on a variety of occasions including war, births, Yom Kippur, and the death of a beloved cat—they not only display an invigorating faith but demonstrate how late-modern Christians can pray with all the passion, turbulence, and life of the ancient psalmists.
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Stanley Hauerwas is the Gilbert T. Rowe Professor of Theological Ethics at Duke University. Prior to that, he was a professor at the University of Notre Dame. In 2001, he was named “America’s Best Theologian” by TIME Magazine. Hauerwas is the author of numerous books, including A Better Hope: Resources for a Church Confronting Capitalism, Democracy, and Postmodernity, With the Grain of the Universe: The Church’s Witness and Natural Theology, and A Cross-Shattered Church: Reclaiming the Theological Heart of Preaching.