Book Review: Pray, Write, Grow by Ed Cyzewski
In this post, I review the book “Pray, Write, Grow: Cultivating Prayer and Writing Together” by contemplative author and blogger Ed Cyzewski.
(Note: This post appeared first on Sharon’s old website, SharonOutlawHillam.com.)
While out on my walk this morning, doing what Ed Cyzewski talks about in his book, Pray, Write, Grow: Cultivating Prayer and Writing Together, I remembered a fun word exercise I learned about in another book I read a few years ago.
The book is Word Hero by Jay Heinrichs, and the exercise was to write a six-word review of your favorite movie. One of the examples used was Ocean’s Eleven: Clooney robs Vegas. Ten guys help.
Shortly before reading that book, David and I watched Schindler’s List. So I decided to see if I could describe that movie in only six words. It took a while, but eventually, I came up with this:
German businessman saves Jews from Holocaust.
If you have ever been in conversation with me, you know that pithiness is NOT my thing; details, and lots of them, ARE. So formulating a six-word movie review was not easy. And neither has it been easy to come up with a short overview of Pray, Write, Grow for this post, which is why I was talking to God about it and asking for His help this morning.
Once I recalled the little word exercise, I wondered, can I possibly summarize the book in only six words? Maybe I should have tried walking and praying while thinking of how to describe Schindler’s List years ago because, to my surprise and delight, I quickly came up with:
Contemplative shares prayer and writing journey.
Thankfully, I’m not limited to just six words in THIS review. And by adding only eight words, I can paint a much clearer picture:
Contemplative Episcopalian shares prayer and writing journey that led to growth, freedom, and healing.
That’s it. I just gave you a synopsis of this little book in only 14 words.
How’s that for pithy? 🙂
How did I come up with contemplative to describe Ed Cyzewski? It’s what he calls himself on the header of his website: edcyzewski.com.
Before reading Pray, Write, Grow, I had never heard of him. After some research, I found he’s written 15 books and has been blogging regularly since 2006. He’s also written for The Theology of Work Project, Christian Today, Leadership Journal, Patheos, and Christianity Today.
But there’s so much more to Ed Cyzewski than the plethora of books, blogs, and articles he’s written. Quantity is one thing; quality is another. And because of the latter, he has become the newest member of my list of favorite Christian writers.
Admittedly, when I first began reading Pray, Write, Grow, I wasn’t sure about him. His writing style differed from what I was used to in Christian books. I also wasn’t sure about his suggestion of using the Examen — a simple way of reflecting on your day that guides you in prayer and drawing close to God. (Click here to read an excellent post about it in The Well by InterVarsity.)
But I kept reading, mostly because I was curious. And I am so glad I did. Not only was I inspired and challenged as a writer, but my Christian worldview also broadened a little as I recognized and discerned that, although he was in a different evangelical camp, Ed was speaking out of his deep love for the Lord and people.
Oh, what I would have missed had I dismissed him outright based on my preconceived notions of who I initially thought he was.
For a short example of the quality I’m talking about, read the first post he published on his blog in January 2006: Someone Bigger Than Ourselves. In it, he tells of how the miracle-working God of the Bible suddenly rocked his religious thinking as well as his world forever. But please read it slowly. There is MUCH in that post that is worth pondering.
The Amazon Preview and My GoodReads Review
You can get a good idea of the book by reading the preview (the first 16 pages) on Amazon. There are also several good reviews on GoodReads.
This is mine:
Are you a Christian writer or a wannabe writer looking for ways to improve your writing? Then I highly recommend this book. Why? Because it’s written primarily to YOU.
Are you looking for help and direction with your prayer life but you’re NOT a writer and don’t have the desire to become one? Then there’s still much in this book for you, too.
Remember, the book’s title isn’t Pray and Write. It’s Pray, Write, Grow (emphasis mine). For me, this third element — GROW — turned out to be the best part of the book.
That’s because Ed doesn’t just share his insights on writing and prayer — as valuable as that is. He candidly shares his journey of praying and writing that, over time, led not only to growth, clarity, and direction in both disciplines but freedom and healing from anger, fear, and paralyzing anxiety that had plagued him from his youth.
He says, “There isn’t a flow chart or a how-to system to [this.] I can’t tell you if you’re ‘doing it right.’ It’s a gradual process of growth.” That is what cultivation is all about and why his subtitle, Cultivating Prayer and Writing Together, speaks volumes.
As a Christian blogger, my most important takeaway came from this:
[If] an issue has been eating at me for a while, there’s a good chance it’s eating at someone else who would be relieved to read about my process should I write about it.
[We] grow as writers when we see our work as an act of service to others. If you want to define yourself as a successful writer, aim to help others. Share your low points and how you’ve battled through them. Share your biggest doubts, challenges, and failures so that readers can join you in your journey.
What he explained above is what he did in the book, and as a result, it has become my passion and goal to do the same. If you are a writer and read the book, there’s a good chance it’ll become yours, too.
I pray it does.
Note: I shared 41 of my Kindle Notes and Highlights on GoodReads. Click here to view them. (Must be a member.)
I hope I’ve not only informed you by sharing what the book is about and my take on it, but inspired you to read it.
The paperback edition, published on February 28, 2015, is available on Amazon for $7.99. The Kindle version, published on March 11, 2015, is $1.99 (or free to read if you have Amazon’s Kindle Unlimited).
If you have any questions about the book, leave a comment. I’m only too happy to help.
Thanks — and happy reading!
Special Notice: I am not affiliated with Amazon or any person or website I have linked to in this post. I provide the links for copyright reasons, for reference (so you can do further reading if you choose), and for your convenience only.
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