Walter Brueggemann, Prayers for a Privileged People (Nashville: Abingdon Press, 2008), 183pp.
For over thirty years now, Walter Brueggemann (b. 1933) has combined the best of critical scholarship with love for the local church in service to the kingdom of God. Now a professor emeritus of Old Testament studies at Columbia Theological Seminary in Decatur, Georgia, Brueggemann has authored over seventy books. Except for a three-page preface, this entire book consists of eighty-six prayers organized around six broad themes. There is no conclusion, no index, or any bibliography at the end of the book. I found myself wishing that Brueggemann had concluded with a theological-pastoral reflection on the theme of "privilege" as he sees it now in the eighth decade of his life.
Some of his prayers reflect on specific passages of Scripture. Others take their cue from the calendar, like those for Super Bowl Sunday, Income Tax Day, or Mother's Day. Still others follow lectionary days like Epiphany or Easter. The psalm-like poems or prayers embody the ancient maxim of lex orandi, lex credendi, that the way or law of prayer is the way of believing. They combine the prophetic-transgressive and the pastoral-compassionate, and demonstrate just how subversive is the act of prayer for those of us who are all too comfortable with privilege, safety, control, and competence. These prayers lead us toward a spirit of true candor about God, ourselves, and the world. I highly recommend this little gem of a book for both personal and liturgical use.