After seeing so many friends recommend it, I downloaded the book Liturgy of the Ordinary: Sacred Practices in Everyday Life by Tish Harrison Warren. This delightful book is a great reminder that we don’t have to retreat to the desert or live as monks to live lives that are entirely devoted to God.
The author writes about the liturgy in the ordinary moments of everyday life. These moments, like waking up or sitting in traffic, allow us to connect with God in new ways. The God who came and walked among us is well-acquainted with the grittiness of daily life. Instead of feeling like it’s standing in the way of our spiritual lives, we can learn to embrace daily life for all it’s worth.
If I were to write about everything I liked in this book, I’d fill an entire book myself. Because of that, I’m sticking to a few things that were of particular significance to me.
Brushing Our Teeth
In chapter 3, Warren explains that worshipping God with our bodies means taking care of them. She writes, “If the Church doesn’t teach us what our bodies are for, our culture certainly will.” Caring for our bodies is a holy act of worship that we often neglect, thinking there are more important things.
I went to the dentist for a tooth cleaning a couple weeks after we brought our little girl (who we’re in the process of adopting) home. The hygienist sternly scolded me, reminding me to ensure I’m still brushing my teeth, even with a little one. She said she sees far too many new moms come in who have neglected their physical well-being in the wake of motherhood.
We often do the same thing when we’re busy serving God and others. It’s easy to get lost in all the things we think we “should” be doing, thinking that those things are “better” worship than the simple task of caring for the temple (or bodies) that God gave us.
Sitting in Traffic
In chapter 8, the author writes about the experience of sitting in traffic. She colorfully describes the frustration and impatience we feel when we’re stuck on the road with hundreds of others, waiting for things to clear up.
These moments, according to Warren, are an opportunity for us to slow down. In our instant gratification culture, it’s easy to forget that it’s okay to wait for things. As we sit with the frustration of waiting in traffic, we’re reminded of the spiritual waiting found in the seasons of Lent and Advent.
I live in a small town. There’s rarely traffic (except when construction shuts down half the roads in town). But that doesn’t mean I don’t find myself frustrated by how long things take. I’m guilty of impatience while waiting for my coffee or standing in line at the grocery store. These moments now take on new significance, as I slow down and remember that waiting is an act of faith.
Chapter 10 explored the liturgy of the little pleasures in life. This chapter resonated with me so much, especially as a person who thoroughly enjoys things. Warren writes that we experience God’s goodness in those moments of sensory pleasure – whether that’s drinking tea, eating our favorite food, or even physical intimacy with our spouse.
God is meant to be worshipped in and through beauty. When we avoid those simple pleasures in life, we ignore a lot of the beautiful places where God reveals Godself. As Christians, we worship when we enjoy all that God has given us.
Overview: I highly recommend this book. Every chapter had something that resonated with me. While the author is female and writes with a distinctly feminine voice, her insight is rich with value for both men and women who want to experience worship in the everyday “stuff” of life.
Writing Style: Warren is a very emotive and poetic writer. She describes things in a way that makes you feel like you’re reading poetry. Her prose evokes a sense of worship, which aligns perfectly with this work’s purpose.
Intended Audience: All Christians (and those interested in Christ)
Theological Tradition: Warren is an Anglican minister, so she writes primarily from an Anglican perspective. However, there was nothing (aside from her acknowledgment that she finds peace in structured liturgical settings) that pointed to this denominational perspective in her writing. Most denominational traditions can find value in what she has to say.
Mature Content: There wasn’t much mature content, although she did mention sexual intimacy in non-graphic terms in one of her chapters. Even so, I’d recommend this book for older teens and adults only.
Audiobook Review: The audiobook was not narrated by Warren herself, but the reader did a great job of communicating Warren’s words.
Other Books by Author: Tish Harrison Warren is also the author of Prayer in the Night (2021), Little Prayers for Ordinary Days (2022), and Advent: The Season of Hope (2023).
Recommend? Absolutely! This is one of the best Christian books I’ve read this year. I highly recommend this book to individuals and groups wanting to go deeper in their relationship with God. The book also includes discussion questions at the end, perfect for small groups!