I am a minister, photographer, retreat leader, author and Quaker -- albeit one who's not always good at being a good Quaker. I am the author of "Awaken Your Senses," "Holy Silence: The Gift of Quaker Spirituality," "Mind the Light: Learning to See with Spiritual Eyes" and "Sacred Compass: The Path of Spiritual Discernment" (foreword by Richard Foster).
This blog is a compendium of writing, photography, seriousness and silliness -- depending on my mood.
"In this practical yet profound guide to prayer, two lovers of language suggest rethinking habitual ways of communicating with God. Highly recommended for all who long to articulate the silent yearnings, hidden fears, private sorrows and burning joys of the soul—and particularly for those pastors, spiritual directors and soul friends who accompany them along the path."
"Finding God in the Verbs came along just in time. I am sick unto death of my own prayers, and suspect God too is tired of rolling his eyes at my words. Why am I so careful in my writing and so careless in my prayers? Bill and Isbell are renewing not only my prayers but my heart."
—Leslie Leyland Fields, author of Forgiving Our Fathers and Mothers
For Brent Bill, director of the New Meetings Project at Friends General Conference in Philadelphia and author of Holy Silence, the first step into deep listening is to carefully set the stage before he begins to write.
“I think of writing as a form of worship,” says Brent, who is also a Quaker pastor. “So before I start, I begin to declutter my brain and soul by getting certain things out of the way. An email here, a calendar update there. That helps me banish all the busy monkeys in my mind...
To read the whole article, click here.
"Many of us live with a severely disordered view of God. Finding God in the Verbs is a genuinely practical and fun help. With an inviting conversational tone, Jennie and Brent reveal how language shapes and guides our prayers and ultimately unlocks our hearts into a deeper, more intimate relationship of joy and ease with God."
—Nathan Foster, Spring Arbor University, author of Wisdom Chaser and The Making of an Ordinary Saint
"Early in my reading of Finding God in the Verbs, I came to the line that said, 'Both of us find that when we pray we enter into mystery.' That's when I knew the book was true—that it was written by those who understand the power of prayer and the divine portal that it presents to our human hearts. One that, if we dare, offers entry into the Holy of Holies and conversation with the Creator. In that, there be deep magic."
God in the Verbs: Crafting a Fresh Language of Prayer
A Workshop and a Book
you long for deeper communion with God? Spiritual director Jennie Isbell and
Quaker minister Brent Bill know how easy it is to lapse into repetitious
refrains of prayer:
hearts told us that we had lapsed into easy God speak. We weren't reaching deep
into our spirits and drawing out living words of praise, confession, concern,
intercession and longing. We were tired of speaking in clipped shorthand to
God. We wanted to pray in such a way that we showed up with our whole
you have experienced a similar longing, come join the authors on this prayer
journey into the deep waters of the Spirit. This book and workshop offer
companionship and guidance as you begin to notice, consider and deepen your
prayer experiences, with refreshing exercises sprinkled through every chapter
to offer you a fresh language for prayer. Find God here—in the nouns and the
verbs of your conversation.
God in the Verbs can be presented as a two or four hour introductory workshop
or a full weekend retreat. Either way, it's a lively opportunity to explore and
unpack the language of prayer, including inherited and ancestral prayers,
spontaneous prayers, and the unuttered prayers of your heart. In this highly experiential
workshop, participants play with scriptural and personal images for God and the
verbs (and other words) and implications that go with them. We dive into
language and the silence that yields to listening, all while leaving
theological baggage at the bag check.
Jennie Isbell, M.A., M.Div. is a Quaker spiritual director, writer, and retreat leader who joyfully serves people at the edge of church, inviting them to notice how close God actually is, unadorned by a particular creed or requirement. She lives and works in Greenfield, MA with her adoring husband Newell and their way-above-average child, Jasper.
J. Brent Bill is a Quaker
minister, photographer, retreat leader, and author. Among his books are Sacred Compass: The Way of Spiritual
Discernment, Awaken Your Senses (with Beth Booram), and Holy Silence. Brent lives on
Ploughshares Farm, which is fifty acres of Indiana farmland that is being
reclaimed for native hardwood forests and warm season prairie grasses.