This week, an interview with Jana Riess, one of the authors of The Prayer Wheel: A Daily Guide to Renewing Your Faith with a Rediscovered Spiritual Practice. Jana wrote the book with two fellow veteran religion journalists, Patton Dodd and David Van Biema. And together, they tell the remarkable story of the ancient practice of prayer wheels, walking us through the Wheel’s teachings that will feel inclusive no matter what Christian tradition you come from. The explicit promise of the Wheel is this—that it will draw you closer to God, revealing fresh insights and help you find expression for the deep yearnings of heart and spirit. The backstory behind the project is truly fascinating.
In 2015, a group of rare manuscripts from medieval monasteries went on exhibit at the New York Gallery of the international dealer Le Enluminures. The crown jewel of that collection was a book of the four gospels originally from an abbey in Germany. Viewers marveled at the ornate beauty of the 10th century volume—a crucified Christ carved in stunning relief on its oak cover, gorgeously illuminated chapter openings, and its text pages unfolding in elegant script.
But it was what was inside the cover that drew the attention of the authors of this book, an intriguing circular diagram, a prayer wheel.
Jana Riess holds degrees in religion from Wellesley College, Princeton Theological Seminary, and Columbia University. A senior columnist for Religion News Service, she is the author of Flunking Sainthood: A Year of Breaking the Sabbath, Forgetting to Pray, and Still Loving My Neighbor.