Prayer: Finding the Heart’s True Home by Richard J. Foster

Prayer Category
how to pray

Published by Harper One. Richard J. Foster is the author of the bestselling book Celebration of Discipline and the founder of a renewal ministry called Renovare.

The book is divided into three major sections based on “movements” of prayer: moving inward:seeking the transformation we need, moving upward: seeking the intimacy we need and moving outward:seeking the ministry we need.

In each section are chapters telling about various types of prayers under each of these categories. For instance, in Moving upward, which is centered on meditative/adoration prayer, the chapters are The prayer of adoration, the prayer of rest, sacramental prayer, unceasing prayer, the prayer of the heart, meditative prayer and contemplative prayer. At the end of each chapter, Foster provides us with a brief written prayer to help us appropriate and use each type of prayer. For each type of prayer, he draws on Scripture, the lives of saints and Christians from history, as well as providing some of his own personal experiences.

Review: This book was recommended to me by two of our church ministers and I found it to be one of the best books I’ve read if you want to know about different ways to pray. Actually, it’s not written as a “how to pray” book, but rather as a book on using prayer as a way to become closer to God. In the process, as you learn about different prayer avenues, you realize that there are many new things you can use in your own prayer life.

Foster explains, “Throughout I will be seeking to name our experiences of pray…by naming our experiences, I hope to increase our understanding of what God is doing among us so we can be more intentional in our practice.”

He tells us that his intent is not to define prayer or its methods, but rather about forming a love relationship with God through prayer. Foster says, “Real prayer comes not from gritting our teeth but from falling in love.”

I like the way he has done broad research across the ages and across denominational lines to bring us prayer modes from all traditions. For instance, I am not from a tradition that emphasizes “The prayer of Examen” where you look at your daily life and make “an accurate assessment of the true situation” by looking into the experiences of the day to see where God was presenting himself to you and also into your conscience for those things that need “cleansing, purifying and healing.”

On prayers of relinquishment Foster tells us that we are “not locked int a preset determined future…We are co-laborers with God.” Hence the importance of prayer “efforts that are a genuine give and take, a true dialogue with God- and a true struggle.”

Throughout the book the author gives us refreshing glimpses of his own prayer experiences such as feeling guilty about spending “sabbath rest” time simply enjoying the splendor of God’s nature out by himself at the lake when his watch told him he should be back at the retreat center attending the next teaching session. Yet the Holy Spirit kept telling him, “Be still…Rest…Shalom.” So he lingered at the lakeside.

This is a book you’ll want to keep on your bookshelf and return to when you need to try a refreshing new way of prayer.

Added by Karen Barber on November 3, 2012