Learning to pray from those who talked to Jesus
Daily readings suitable for Lent or any time of year
This book of daily readings offers a wonderfully fresh way of deepening the way that we talk to God. Alongside author Henry Martin, we ‘eavesdrop’, or ‘listen in’, on 49 instances of people who actually spoke to Jesus in the Bible, and ask what we can learn from what they said and how he responded. Sometimes his answers brought delight to those who asked him, and sometimes his response was not what they expected or hoped for. In the final section of the book, the conversations listened to took place during Jesus’ final days and bring us closer to him during Holy Week. Eavesdropping can be read in daily sittings at any time of year, and is particularly suitable for Lent.
David Wilbourne (in the Church Times, 1st February 2019)VERY rarely, rather than be reviewed, the book reviews me. In 2012, I was so blown away by Janet Morley’s The Heart’s Time that Archbishop Barry and I hand-delivered a copy to every cleric in Llandaff. Henry Martin’s Eavesdroppingis another such classic, simply journeying through Lent to Easter, exploring the motives, asides, nuances, and unsaid words behind the conversations in 49 Gospel scenes.
Each imaginative reflection, worthy of a Gerd Theissen or Jonathan Magonet, concludes with “How does this help with prayer?” Faced by Martin’s insightful, earthed, non-judgemental answers, I repeatedly found myself praying.
He is blisteringly honest, very perceptive, and has a genuine and original humour: Naaman’s servant cries “Get over yourself, Boss!” when his master baulks at bathing in the Jordan. There are gems galore: in answering prayer, Jesus does not torment us, but always displays the unexpected demonstration of costly grace; we need to dethrone any gods who delight in painful revenge; God will not sponsor any of our attempts to turn ourselves into superheroes; we shouldn’t feel guilty about unanswered prayer, as if we had fluffed up a Hogwarts incantation.
An artist as well as a writer, Martin invites us to sketch Jesus as he overturns temple tables; and the faces of our loved ones, surprised as the Risen Christ calls their name. Railing against an unhealthy obsession with confession, he suggests two modest alterations to the liturgy. That the response to “The Lord is here!” should be “But where am I?” And any Easter-morning liturgy should be led solely by women, limiting male voices to the response: “It’s an idle tale, we’re having none of it!”
Never mind buying it for every cleric; every intercessor needs either to read this book or stop.
Paul Kerensa, comedian, writer, and broadcaster
‘Henry has written a thought-provoking, intelligent and heartfelt book from a novel perspective. By listening on in on centuries-old conversations, he breathes new life into familiar quotes. Eavesdropping feels like a key that unlocks old wisdom in a new way, planting us in first century Palestine, but helping us navigate the weight of the modern world. If you’re a pray-er, this book will revolutionise how you pray. If you find it hard to pray, this book may be the answer to your, well, prayers. Congratulations Henry - an endlessly helpful and dynamic read, that’s also a call to action. Highly recommended.’
Maggi Dawn, Professor of Theology and Literature, and Dean of Marquand Chapel, Yale Divinity School
‘The author of Eavesdropping brings his gift of observation as a visual artist, and his long experience as a prison chaplain and parish priest, to the question of how and why to pray. Drawing the reader into stories from the bible and from everyday life, he gives the reader a fresh take on prayer, as well as a kind and expansive vision of God. Highly recommended.’