Being with God

The Absurdity, Necessity, and Neurology of Contemplative Prayer

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All fruitful doing must begin with being. For many Christians, it's easy to be swept up into the fast pace of modern life, desiring to do much for God. But we struggle to slow down and be with God.

According to pastor, Enneagram teacher, and author AJ Sherrill, being with God is what empowers doing for God. Sherrill shares his own journey from "busy" Christianity to the ancient paths of contemplative practices. He equips readers to integrate rhythms of stillness, silence, and solitude, offering step-by-step guidance and examples of finding solitude both personally and on retreats.

Sherrill warns that making these changes appears absurd in a society where time is money, productivity is central, and hurry is a way of life. He guides readers gently through the beginning and often confusing stages of contemplative practice. Citing timely insights from the world of neurology and mental health, he shows that solitude is crucial not only for Christian growth but also for holistic flourishing.

Readers will emerge, centered in Christ, well on their way to this goal: slow down, pay attention, be still, and be loved.


Foreword by Rich Villodas
Introduction: Read Me
Part 1: Absurdity
1. Weird
2. Tech
3. Hear
Part 2: Necessity
4. Noise
5. Room
6. Still
7. Groans
8. Dive
9. Gaze
Part 3: Neurology
10. Breath
11. Stress
12. Sleep
Conclusion: Benefits of Contemplative Prayer
Appendix A: Designing a Contemplative Retreat
Appendix B: Additional Resources


"In this book, you'll discover that contemplative prayer is for everyone, no matter where you are in your spiritual journey. . . . So sit down, take a deep breath, and open yourself to God's presence through these pages. I'm so glad I did."

Rich Villodas (from the foreword)

"Years ago AJ first told me of his desire to apply prayer and brain science to this cultural moment. If you're in search of a deeper life with God, I highly recommend Being with God."

John Mark Comer, founding pastor of Bridgetown Church; author of The Ruthless Elimination of Hurry

"In a frantic, busy-obsessed world, too many Christians have settled for an anemic Christian life. AJ Sherrill pastorally calls for Christians to disentangle themselves from the loud clamoring of the world by embracing the formational rhythms of Jesus and entering into the depths of a gracious, loving, and kind God. AJ not only casts the vision, he also pastorally tells us how to experience the fullness of God."

Tara Beth Leach, author of Emboldened and Radiant Church

"I'm addicted. Addicted to activity. Addicted to noise. Addicted to accomplishment. All this addiction means I'm never still. My mind never quiets. I often lack the space to be with God. And, crazy as it sounds, that's what God wants most. AJ gifts the church with needed, helpful insights into the crazed culture we live in and the way our minds work, and he presses it against God's dream for human flourishing. If you, like me, struggle to get quiet, read this book."

Sean Palmer, author of Forty Days on Being a Three (Enneagram Daily Reflections); teaching pastor, Ecclesia Houston

"Feeling like a robot programmed by demanding outside forces? Tired of constant reactivity, of having little capacity to respond functionally to life? Read Being with God. AJ Sherrill's insights will reshape your soul, which will in turn reshape your life in the world."

Bishop Todd Hunter, author of Deep Peace: Finding Calm in a World of Conflict and Anxiety

"There is a dizzying litany of books about God in the contemporary marketplace. Many of them are good and helpful. Some not so much. But far too few have been penned to help us know how we relate to God. In the rugged history of Christianity, some of our heroes and saints have offered beautiful descriptions of how they found the God of Scripture. Their tales are so needed today. This book mines our history and theology for these tested and true gifts. I commend Sherrill's miraculous book. And I believe God will show you a whole new way to know him."

A. J. Swoboda, assistant professor of Bible and theology, Bushnell University; author of After Doubt

"I first met AJ Sherrill somewhere on the streets of a noisy, busy city. Now, some years later, I find myself rejoicing in AJ as an emerging voice on how to quiet the noise and find rest in the busy places. If you are looking for a field guide to help you enter into the rest of Christ, look no further. This is that field guide."

Scott Sauls, senior pastor of Christ Presbyterian Church; author of Jesus Outside the Lines and A Gentle Answer

"In a world filled with distractions, Christians are often people of action but not too often people of contemplation and prayer. This approach ultimately results in stress, depression, and burnout. More than ever, we need to rediscover contemplative prayer that will help sustain us for living in today's complex and changing world. Being with God is a timely book filled with timeless wisdom for today's church. Read it, contemplate it, but most of all, practice it!"

Winfield Bevins, director of church planting, Asbury Seminary; author of Ever Ancient, Ever New

"This is a fantastic book for those pursuing the way of Jesus. Instead of adding another religious task to do, AJ seeks to instill the necessity of being with God. Truly abiding is a forgotten discipline in our time from which all spiritual fruit is born. I highly recommend this book."

Jon Tyson, lead pastor, Trinity Grace Church

The Author

  1. AJ Sherrill
    © Adam Bird

    AJ Sherrill

    AJ Sherrill (DMin, Fuller Theological Seminary) has more than twenty years of experience as a pastor, including as lead pastor at Mars Hill Bible Church in Grand Rapids, Michigan. He is now lead pastor at St. Peter's Church in Mount Pleasant, South Carolina....

    Continue reading about AJ Sherrill


Outreach 2022 Recommended Resource (Spiritual Growth)