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A Heart Exposed


reviewed by Kristine Morris

A Heart Exposed: Talking to God with Nothing to Hide (A Book of Prayers)

by Steven James

One of the most beautiful gifts of Steven James’s book, A Heart Exposed, is that the prayer-poems it contains can jumpstart similar words to form in one’s own heart, igniting a conversation with the divine that is nourishing and even ecstatic. James speaks with the God he knows as friend and beloved in words both simple and passionate, as did Rumi, Hafiz, and the writer of the Psalms so many generations ago.

The best poetry and the best prayer can touch the heart without causing one to trip over the words, catching it up sometimes even before one is aware that words are involved. James is familiar with the “dark undertows of regret and shame” that run through his life, and also with the One to whom he says: “You are a mad God / lavishing your crazy love / on someone as promiscuous as me. / I run to your arms again.” Real prayer, he knows, does not have to be formulaic. “Real prayer is more concerned with honesty, pain, and amazement than with getting all the words right,” he says. “I think we need to be willing to reveal our vulnerabilities and our passions, our sorrow and our joy, our shameful secrets and pet temptations, and our most intimate desire and dreams. I’m hoping this book will help you do that.”

James, considered to be one of the nation’s most innovative storytellers, is the author of 20 books including the bestselling thriller series The Bowers Files. His prayers will spark wonder in the hearts and minds of readers — they are filled with images of grace that “glistens on the edge of an arrowhead,” of a heaven that is “more like a sleepover / than an elders’ meeting,” and of a God who “never asked us / to build a building, / only to build a kingdom.”


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