With his relentless faith in God and his genuine understanding of doubt, despair, and dry spells, Harper takes on all the hardest questions about prayer.
Nothing fazes Steve Harper in this wrangle with God. No doubt, experience, or unholy feeling is out of bounds as he explores the dark passages in life and in prayer. Yet he assures his readers that no matter how lost they may feel, they are not wanderers in life’s trackless desert, but pilgrims through prayer’s wilderness of mystery and grace.
Grounding his claims as much in theological problems as in answers, Harper takes on faith crises regarding God, humankind, and the church. His powerful stories move the reader to “dig deep wells” through prayer, trusting that Christ’s living water will flow forth to sustain them. And as for not knowing how to pray, he suggests that prayer is more like talking than breathing – natural, but in need of cultivation. And that cultivation is the church’s most neglected job.
Both challenging and invigorating, Talking in the Dark celebrates the primary virtues – and difficulties – of the prayerful life: thoroughgoing honesty in prayer and acquiescence to the radical mystery of God.
- Pastors, spiritual directors, and counselors who help those with personal and spiritual crises
- Laypersons who are restless in their prayer life or dubious about the efficacy of prayer
Read this book, and you’ll probably feel as I did, that you are sitting with a friend who is willing to talk honestly about the struggles we have with prayer when life makes no sense. When you rise from this “conversation,” you will likely feel that you have found more than an understanding friend—you have found a wise friend, one who provided the perspective you needed. Harper’s book does not attempt to placate with simplistic answers but resonates with profound wisdom. The book is real and rings with truth because the author is honest, vulnerable, a man of faith, and insight. I can attest to this because he has been my friend for decades. After reading Talking in the Dark, you’ll find him to be the kind of soul friend you have needed as well.
—C. Reginald Johnson, PhD
Dean, School of Theology and Formation ~ Asbury Theological Seminary
In Talking in the Dark Steve Harper forces us to rephrase the familiar Shakespearean refrain as “To pray or not to pray, that is the question.” Harper outlines from an experiential perspective the reasons we might invent to forfeit prayer and the doubly powerful reasons why “nevertheless” we should not. Each chapter convinces us that we can no more give up praying than we can stop breathing. For those of us who continue to pray in the dark, this book is like a beam of light leading us to new depths of trust and surrender to the Holy One who hears our cries.
—Susan Muto, PhD
Dean, Epiphany Academy of Formative Spirituality ~ Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania
Many people could write books on prayer, but not many could write a book like this. Steve Harper has lived the questions of life, experienced the mystery, and is honest enough to share his journey with us.
If you have been or are haunted by the question “Why pray?” this book is for you. If you are a bit beyond that question, you probably still need the book because someone you know is asking the question.
Though focused on prayer, Talking in the Dark will help readers with their questions and wonderings about how God relates to the whole of our lives. For me the book represents teaching and witness at their best—honest experience and practical guidance.
Chancellor, Asbury Theological Seminary
God gifted Steve Harper with the ability to cut through the theological jargon, clear a pathway to Jesus, and guide others into the embrace of the Comforter. Harper is absolutely right. Life does not always make sense, and he has the courage to speak with honesty about how that feels. Talking in the Dark invites us into painful spaces, agonizing questions, and hushed moments in order to be found by the great Companion of our lives.
—Paul W. Chilcote, PhD
Visiting Professor of the Practice of Evangelism ~ Duke Divinity School