Lzst Sunday, I preached on John 20:19-31 about Thomas' encounter with the resurrected Christ and Paul's word on the Spirit hearing our souls' deepest groans and "sighs too deep for words" in Romans 8. My sermon was entitled "A Cynic's Prayer" and I was trying to talk about the value of prayer--even intercessory prayer--even for those who might be cynical towards it.
First, I mentioned a new book called How God Changes Your Brain which is about recent studies regarding the neurological effects prayer and meditation have on a person's brain. I admit not having read the book--my scientific knowledge extends to about second grade--but really beint interested in reviews and articles about the book and interviews with the authors. Speaking of--check out this interview with the authors who talk about their findings.
I also made use of a book by one of my seminary professors, Glenn Hinson, entitled A Serious Call to a Contemplative Lifestyle. His chapter on prayer is very insightful and his explanation of how God works and doesn't work through intercessory prayer has deeply influenced my own beliefs.
I also told the story of Dorotheus of Gaza's understanding of prayer. Dorotheus was a 6th Century Christian monk and his thoughts are a part of a collection called The Sayings of the Desert Fathers--a classic in western spirituality and deeply moving. I referred to this book in a sermon earlier this year and when I read though this book, I'm always reminded of collected sayings by the early rabbis and even by Zen masters.