Soul Care in African American Practice
Christianity Today Award of Merit
In the midst of our hectic, overscheduled lives, caring for the soul is imperative.
Now, more than ever, we need to pause—intentionally—and encounter the Divine.
Soul care director Barbara Peacock illustrates a journey of prayer, spiritual direction, and soul care from an African American perspective. She reflects on how these disciplines are woven into the African American culture and lived out in the rich heritage of its faith community. Using examples of ten significant men and women—Frederick Douglass, Martin Luther King Jr., Rosa Parks, Darrell Griffin, Renita Weems, Harold Carter, Jessica Ingram, Coretta Scott King, James Washington, and Howard Thurman—Barbara offers us the opportunity to engage in practices of soul care as we learn from these spiritual leaders.
If you've yearned for a more culturally authentic experience of spiritual transformation in your life and community, this book will help you grow in new yet timeless ways. Come to the river to draw deeply for your soul's refreshment.
"Dr. Barbara Peacock has crafted a book that reflects her own passions, principles, and practices as a preeminent person of prayer. Drawing upon the spiritual lives of ten African Americans—historical and contemporary—she unpacks the distinctive soul-shaping dynamics of their shared experience of the triune God in the midst of oppression. However, she doesn't simply write about their experience, she invites her readers to share in it through reflective and contemplative exercises at the end of each chapter. I encourage you to accompany this wise guide in exploring the African American soul . . . and your own."
"As Barbara Peacock writes, through spiritual disciplines we can hear from God as he responds to the humble cry from the intentionally consecrated heart. This is a book about the nourishment of the soul—drinking from his fountain, soaking in his presence—that results in his rest. Barbara has shared her accumulated depth of spiritual maturity that comes from a lifelong and generational journey, even through the dark night of the soul. As she describes the legacy of slavery's Middle Passage for all of us, her words resonate to the national spiritual foundation of prayer, the impact of bended knees on the very breath we breathe, who we are, and who we are becoming. Never have we needed this more."
"Having been blessed by the teaching and intercessory prayer ministry of Dr. Barbara Peacock, I am so excited about Soul Care in African American Practice. As a spiritual director and a scholar, she gives voice and vision to the rich Christian spiritual tradition that has undergirded the sustenance, liberation, and transcendence of African Americans. In so doing, she calls us once again to the fountain of living water that never runs dry."
"Barbara Peacock has lovingly offered a much-needed contribution to the modern spiritual formation movement. Her gentle teaching on soul care topics and suggestions for practicing them, enveloped by the feel and flavor of the African American experience while introducing the reader to some incredible heroes of the faith, combine to create a truly transformational text."
"The story of African American faith forged in the bellies of slave ships, midnight stints in the forest, prayer closets, and prison cells needs to be spread to every corner of creation where greed seeks to crush the image of God in humanity. The power of Jesus subverts the power of imperialism, pushes against the false gospel of racial hierarchy, and gives physical and spiritual freedom to all who desire communion with the Holy One. This book is a gift to every nation from the people whose faith comes from a sustained refusal to be slaves to a god invented in the United States."
"Reverend Peacock provides an opportunity for an in-depth relationship with Christ by sharing insights on how historical and present-day African Americans engage in soul care. This is a must-read for anyone interested in developing a more holistic daily spiritual practice, which is the foundation for a vibrant prayer life. Soul Care is ideal for small groups as well as individual study. Reverend Peacock expertly demonstrates how spiritual direction and soul care are at the root of African American theological practices and their application for everyday life."
"The temptation of Western theological thought and spiritual formation is to ignore or deny the historical contributions of African Americans. Dr. Peacock does a wonderful job of introducing to some and reminding others of the role African American spiritual mothers and fathers have played in shaping the hearts of God's people and a nation."
"For the souls who look back and wonder how we made it over, the answer lies in this book. With rich historical context and practical application for the future, Dr. Peacock does a marvelous job of contextualizing spiritual practices to transform lives."
"As a white person and advocate of the Christian contemplative tradition, I was deeply moved to learn how the essence of contemplative practice is inextricably woven into the fabric of African American spirituality. Barbara Peacock tells of how prayer, spiritual companioning, meditation, and lament were vital spiritual disciplines of some of the most prominent black leaders in history and were forged in the fires of racism, brutality, and slavery. This book signals a new day dawning when African American spirituality's unique features will include the distinctives of the contemplative way. I'm honored to commend it to you. Read it and be inspired!"
"I have known Dr. Barbara Peacock for three decades. From the moment we met, she has displayed a passionate interest in and commitment to spiritual wellness for people of all backgrounds. She has demonstrated a unique sensitivity for holistic wellness among African Americans whose experiences and exposures create urgent needs for care. The transitions in black America through the various stages and types of social and political struggles often function separately and apart from both clinical and pastoral analysis and practice. Dr. Peacock offers a synthesis that creates opportunities for individual and group care that can be transformative and agency for healing. Black churches especially will benefit from this practical and insightful resource, but all believers and churches can be informed by the responses recommended by Dr. Peacock for the African American context."
Introduction: African American Spirituality
Part 1: Spiritual Direction and Spiritual Disciplines
1. Dr. Fredrick Douglas: Spiritual Direction and Lectio Divina
2. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr: Spiritual Direction and Prayer
3. Mrs. Rosa Parks: Meditation and Contemplation
4. Dr. Darrell Griffin: Spiritual Direction and Soul Care
5. Dr. Renita Weems: Detachment and Attachment in Spiritual Direction
Part 2: Prayer Disciplines
6. Dr. Harold Carter: Prayer and Generational Spiritual Foundation
7. Dr. Jessica Ingram: Prayer and Spiritual Direction
8. Mrs. Coretta Scott King: Prayer and Civil Rights
9. Dr. James Washington: Prayer and Rest
10. Dr. Howard Thurman: Prayer and Suffering
Conclusion: Connecting Prayer, Spiritual Direction, and Soul Care
Recommended Reading List
About the Author