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15 Great Books That Have Shaped My Thinking On Prayer & Meditation

Prayer and meditation have played a major role in my personal growth for several years.

C.S. Lewis famously said “Prayer doesn’t change God. It changes me.” Many people look at prayer as an attempt to twist God’s arm or a desperate technique for making oneself feel better about the plights of life. Prayer, however, is also a psychonautic tool that allows the practitioner to plumb the depths of his or her own being.

Does prayer improve our ability to alter the course of physical events? If so, then to what extent? These are interesting questions for theology and the philosophy of religion. Whether prayer gives us the power to change *things* or not, however, I have definitely experienced prayer as a form of inner technology that helps me organize my thoughts, calm my mind, strengthen my resolve, make sense of my life, and deepen my awareness of self.

Below is a list of books that have helped influence the way I practice and think about prayer. This isn’t a list of the “best” books on the topic nor is it an exhaustive list of everything one should read if they wish to know more about the inner life. When I look back on the past decade, however, these are some of the works that have challenged my assumptions and helped me experience prayer and meditation as a fun and character building activity. 

  1. Meditation: The First and Last Freedom by Osho

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2. Sadhana, A Way to God: Christian Exercises in Eastern Form by Anthony de Mello

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3. Journey to Awakening by Ram Dass

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4. New Seeds of Contemplation by Thomas Merton

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5. The Philokalia: The Complete Text

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6. The Possible Human by Jean Houston

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7. Jewish Meditation: A Practical Guide by Aryeh Kaplan

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8. Meditation from the Heart of Judaism (Anthology)

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9. Fire Within: Teresa of Avila, John of the Cross and the Gospel – On Prayer by Thomas Dubay

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10. Centering Prayer: Renewing an Ancient Christian Prayer Form by Basil Pennington

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11. Celebration of Discipline by Richard Foster

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12. Open Mind, Open Heart: The Contemplative Dimension of the Gospel by Thomas Keating

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13. The Practice of the Presence of God by Brother Lawrence

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14. Mysticism: A Study in Nature and Development of Spiritual Consciousness by Evelyn Underhill

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15. No Man Is an Island by Thomas Merton

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