Kneeling with Giants: Learning to Pray with History's Best Teachers, By Gary Neal Hansen
Kneeling with Giants
  • Length: 238 pages
  • Dimensions: 5.5 × 8.25 in
  • Published: March 22, 2012
  • Imprint: IVP
  • Item Code: 3562
  • ISBN: 9780830835621

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Christian Resources Together Devotional Book of the Year

Do you sometimes find yourself searching for a way to approach God or wondering how to get out of a devotional slump? Do you long for spiritual guides you can trust?

This guide to prayer is rooted in centuries of Christian tradition. In each chapter you'll meet a figure from church history, such as St. Benedict, Martin Luther, John Calvin, St. Ignatius, Teresa of Ávila and Andrew Murray. You'll learn how each of these spiritual giants uniquely connected to God through prayer.

Each chapter provides an opportunity to practice a different method for prayer, including the divine office, the Lord's Prayer, the Jesus Prayer, healing prayer and meditation on the Psalms. In the process your own prayer practice will be refreshed and renewed.

Journey into church history and enliven each day of your prayer life.

"Here is a book that invites each of us to learn how to pray. Not only is Gary Hansen a superb scholar and historical theologian, he also writes with a personal warmth and earnestness that makes his readers feel safe and encouraged as they trace with him the journeys of a company of remarkable men and women from Christian history. The mark of each was that they cared deeply about prayer, and because of that we are enriched as we learn from them. Hansen also invites us to experience our own life of prayer as we learn from this rare community of brothers and sisters--people like St. Benedict, Martin Luther, Ignatius of Loyola, St. Teresa of Ávila and Andrew Murray. I was personally challenged and encouraged in each chapter, and I recommend this book enthusiastically."

Rev. Earl F. Palmer, Earl Palmer Ministries

"Prayer is one of those areas where one model or one mentor just isn't enough. I've never been good at prayer, and mostly blamed my lack of discipline. But Kneeling with Giants is changing all that as I am now experimenting with many more ways to pray--and doing so under the tutelage of some of God's great heroes of faith. Gary Hansen has provided us with a very practical guide drawn from these saints' actual prayer practices. He also supplies wonderful materials at every turn to make the journey rich and expansive. This is a unique and wonderful resource!"

Stephen Hayner, president, Columbia Theological Seminary

"By seeing prayer through some of church history's most valuable mentors, this book leads us into practices that are both deep and accessible. It is a book that informs, invites and nourishes our hunger for God. Feast in it!"

Mark Labberton, author of The Dangerous Act of Worship

"Hansen goes a long way toward bridging the gap between doctrine and faith. And he does it with simplicity and an invitational spirit."

Richard Ray, The Presbyterian Outlook, December 10, 2012

"In this remarkable book Mr. Hansen offers a key insight about a particular way to pray, drawn from spiritual giants of the past. As a good guide he reminds us that the point is not just to learn about these famous ascetics and their books but to actually pray and experience God as they did. Mr. Hansen, a Presbyterian seminary professor, helps us by explaining, for instance, St. Benedict's insight on using the Divine Office, Luther's teachings on the Lord's Prayer, Calvin's studious meditations on the Psalms, St. Teresa of Avila's experiences of recollecting the presence of God or even learning how and why the Puritans wrote out their prayers."

Byron and Beth Borger, The Washington Times, November 29, 2015

"I would encourage those desiring help in their prayer life to pick this book up and use it as a resource. It is not a book you should read cover to cover, but slowly and thoughtfully while attempting each method. Prayer is hard and it would be wise to use the teachers of the past. Dr. Hansen helps us with that."

The Presbyterian Post, 3, 2014


Part One: What Language Shall I Borrow?
1. Praying with St. Benedict: The Divine Office
2. Praying with Martin Luther: The Lord's Prayer
3. Praying with the Pilgrim: The Jesus Prayer
Part Two: Praying with Scripture
4. Praying with John Calvin: Studious Meditation on the Psalms
5. Praying with Ignatius of Loyola: The Prayer of the Senses
Part Three: Conversations, Light and Dark
6. Praying with St. Teresa of Ávila: Recollection of the Presence of God
7. Praying with the Puritans: Meditation in Writing
8. Praying with The Cloud of Unknowing: Contemplation in the Dark
Part Four: Asking God for Help
9. Praying with Agnes Sanford: The Healing Light
10. Praying with Andrew Murray: The Ministry of Intercession
Appendix 1: Using This Book in Small Groups and Church Classes
Appendix 2: Putting Prayer into Practice


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Gary Neal Hansen

Gary Neal Hansen (PhD, Princeton Theological Seminary) is a writer, retreat speaker, and church historian. He is the author of several books, including Kneeling with Giants: Learning to Pray with History's Best Teachers and Love Your Bible: Finding Your Way to the Presence of God with a 12th Century Monk.

A visiting scholar at the University of Pittsburgh's Department of Religious Studies, he also previously was professor of church history and the chair of the history and theology division at University of Dubuque Theological Seminary.