Beginning to Pray

Beginning to Pray by Anthony Bloom

Author:

Andrei Bloom was born in 1914 in Switzerland. He spent his early childhood in Russia and Iran. During the Russian Revolution, the family left for Iran, and settled in Paris by 1923. He came to know Christ as a teenager. In 1939, before leaving for the front as a surgeon in the French Army, he secretly professed monastic vows in the Russian Orthodox Church.

In 1943, he was tonsured and received the name of Anthony. During the occupation of France by Nazi Germany, he worked as a doctor and took part in the French Resistance. After the war, he continued practicing as a physician until 1948. When he was ordained to the priesthood, he was sent to Britain to serve as an Orthodox Christian chaplain for the Fellowship of Saint Alban and Saint Sergius, a society established to foster fraternity between the Russian Orthodox and the Anglican Church.

In 1950, he was appointed vicar of the Russian Patriarchal parish in London. In 1957, he was consecrated as bishop, and as archbishop in 1962 in charge of the Russian Orthodox Church in Great Britain and Ireland. In 1963 he was appointed exarch of the Moscow Patriarchate in Western Europe. In 1966, he was assigned the rank of metropolitan bishop. In mid 2003, Bloom resigned from the office of a diocesan bishop. He reposed in the Lord on August 4, 2003.

Context:

The first form of the book was called School of Prayer and was published in 1970. Later, it was republished as Beginning to Pray. The first eighteen pages of the book are dedicated to record an interview held by Timothy Wilson with Anthony Bloom. As such, the reader is given the biographical and spiritual context in which Anthony Bloom became who he is and how he was able to record his experience of prayer in this book.  

Content:
  • Interview with Anthony Bloom
  • The Absence of God
  • Knocking at the Door
  • Going Inward
  • Managing Time
  • Addressing God
  • Two Meditations: On the Mother of God and Staretz Silouan
Relevance:

Everything you have read so far whether on the blog, the books I previously recommended and your own personal readings is useless if not accompanied with a life of prayer. We cannot come to know God apart from prayer.

In this book, you will learn that feeling that God is absent is not always a negative feeling. You will learn practical answers to the most common excuse for not praying: “I have no time.” The last part of the book consists of two meditations. The first meditation is related to icons of the Mother of God and the relationship every believer should have with the Mother of God. It also teaches you how to read and pray with icons. The second meditation on Staretz Silouan emphasizes the positive impact our prayers can have on our social interactions and the lives of others.

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