InterVarsity Press, 168 pages
I have long believed that bird-watching is training in the practice of prayer. Both bird-watching and prayer have so much in common. In each it is necessary to slow down, listen carefully and pay attention. There are long stretches of time when nothing happens; you simply stand still remaining alert and listening. The bird appears and a few seconds of delight occurs. The moment passes, until it comes again. This is akin to prayer.
When I discovered this book, I knew I had found a kindred spirit and a fellow practitioner of prayer. Hansen focuses on prayer that is seamlessly bound with ordinary life, and in particular with long wandering prayer that allows for the necessary attention akin to bird-watching. He is honest about the distractions to prayer. In fact, long wandering prayer allows for those distractions to come and go. There is a deep practical wisdom in Hansen’s guidance. Prayer is a relationship and all relationships take time to mature. “Long wandering prayer is not like meeting with your boss or your ruling board. It is like lovers wandering with one another, without a plan, without hiding thoughts, not knowing where the trip will lead – and not caring.”
The book is little known; that is unfortunate. It belongs with the classic guides to a deeper communion with God. As he invokes Jesus’ call to “consider the ravens” along with the lilies of the field, Hansen will send you into the world alive and free to consider the glory of God.