Michel Quoist (1921-1997) was a Catholic priest who spent most of his life trying to demonstrate that faith has to come alive in the midst of everyday life. Perhaps his working-class origins had something to do with his unorthodox devotional style. A second interest was the Church in Latin America; he was a vociferous supporter of "base communities and their mission for social justice." In both of these emphases, Quoist was years ahead of both the Catholic Church and its priests.
This book was called Prayers of Life when it was released in France in 1954 and renamed just Prayers when it was translated into English in 1963. Quoist was 33 when he wrote this extraordinary collection of prayers which, over the years, has become a spiritual classic. In the introduction, he states: "We record these experiences to help others bring to God every aspect of their lives and to transfigure their lives through prayer."
Quoist challenges Christians to listen for God is present in our lives today; sometimes whispering and other times shouting. For the author, looking at life is another important facet of praying. Another is discovering signs of the Holy One in the ordinary. He opens a section of prayers on "The Telephone," "Green Blackboards," "The Wire Fence," "The Brick," "Posters," and "The Subway," with this statement:
"If we knew how to look at light through God's eyes, we would see it as innumerable tokens of the love of the Creator seeking the love of his creatures. . . . Everything must reveal God to us."
His mature faith opens to things and objects, which strikes us as a mature form of city spirituality.
Some of our favorite prayers by Quoist are in the excerpts linked off the right column. He finds God in everything and everywhere! The last chapter in the book covers prayers on the Way of the Cross. These selections should be read on street corners as an alternative to born-again preachers damming us all to Hell.