I am so late getting this review out! But somehow I couldn’t rush through this book.
Praying Upside Down, by Kelly O’Dell Stanley is one of the best books on prayer I have ever read.
Right from the start this book had my attention, probably because Kelly spoke in words very familiar to me. She writes about prayer as an art form and personal practice, and as the daughter of an intercessor who paints, every word made a lot of sense to me.
I grew up watching my mother pray, and watching my mother sketch and draw, and watching my mother sketch and draw her prayers and her thoughts and her sermon notes. It’s not something I ever knew how to really do, sketch a prayer, but my mother did it all the time.
The strength of this book is the understanding that prayer is personal, that every person’s prayer life is as unique as each individual who prays. Instead of dwelling on the power and principles of prayer, she dwells on the personal practice of prayer, sharing ideas along the way so you can form your own prayer life. Instead of so much effort she shares honestly that your prayer life will have ups and downs, that sometimes one method or tool will work for you, and sometimes another. Sharing her own ups and downs in her own prayer life paints for you an understanding of prayer that is at once deep, and also very attainable.
As I read this book my mind was constantly thinking of people I thought could benefit from reading it. Praying Upside Down is VERY relevant, especially to those who are desiring to build a deeper prayer life in their daily walk and don’t know what that looks like. She provides simple ideas and tools at the end of many chapters, called a “prayer pallet,” some of these ideas are ones I’ve used myself over the years, and some are new.
As I said earlier, my mother is an artist, so as Kelly talked about many different principles in art and how they related to prayer I found the comparison very familiar. Perspective, the concept of everything converging at the horizon, seeing objects in their basic shapes, these were all principles I’d had my mother teach me about years ago, and heard even more about as my brother journeyed through art school. I couldn’t help but feel like I’d found my mothers prayer soul sister! And some illustrations, specifically one you find about a cup of trial poured out bringing you face to face with God, are so poignant as to impress deeply on the heart.
This book is one I highly recommend to anyone who wants a new, fresh, upside down perspective on prayer, as well as those who are just beginning to discover what prayer is. It’s one I think I’ll be going back to again and again as I mull over the lessons and principles over a lifetime of prayer.
Joy Aletheia Stevens