The Rev. Dr. Theodore Loder, named as "One of America's Outstanding Creative Preachers" by the National Observer, has led the First United Methodist Church of Germantown in Philadelphia for over 37 years. He is the author of Guerillas of Grace, Wrestling the Light, and Tracks in the Straw. I've always gravitated to Loder's prayers because they are concrete manifestations of his lively belief in the imagination. How refreshing to hear a minister of the Gospel lift up and celebrate this spiritual faculty, which is so often downplayed or even shunned in Christian churches.

In the introduction to this paperback, Loder writes; "For me, the simplest definition of prayer is putting your heart in your mouth. From deep within, some plea or question or gladness geysers up to address a presence or power beyond our human limitations. There is an unadorned urgency, honesty, and immediacy about it." The book is divided into eleven sections of such heart-prayers of praise, thanksgiving, reflection, dedication, and much more.

Check out the prayer "Keep Us Faithful to Your Dream" for the next Martin Luther King, Jr., Sunday; it's a rousing call to justice and activism. Lovers of mystery will appreciate a prayer made up of "why" statements, including "Why all these whys, these ifs, hows, and whethers, all these half answers that multiply into more mind-wrinkling questions, all these nagging moral dilemmas instead of definite right and wrong solutions?" I feel the sweep and heft of the Holy Spirit when Loder asks for Christians to "become practitioners of mercy, sharers of joy, weavers of community, walkers in humility." What I like best about Loder's prayers is that they are filled with images to send the soul soaring.