Best-selling author Richard J. Foster offers a warm, compelling, and sensitive primer on prayer, helping us to understand, experience, and practice it in its many forms-from the simple prayer of beginning again to unceasing prayer. He clarifies the prayer process, answers common misconceptions, and shows the way into prayers of contemplation, healing, blessing, forgiveness, and rest.
Coming to prayer is like coming home, Foster says. "Nothing feels more right, more like what we are created to be and to do. Yet at the same time we are confronted with great mysteries. Who hasn't struggled with the puzzle of unanswered prayer? Who hasn't wondered how a finite person can commune with the infinite Creator of the universe? Who hasn't questioned whether prayer isn't merely psychological manipulation after all? We do our best, of course, to answer these knotty questions but when all is said and done, there is a sense in which these mysteries remain unanswered and unanswerable . . . At such times we must learn to become comfortable with the mystery."
Foster shows how prayer can move us inward into personal transformation, upward toward intimacy with God, and outward to minister to others. He leads us beyond questions to a deeper understanding and practice of prayer, bringing us closer to God, to ourselves, and to our community.
Richard J. Foster is the author of several bestselling books, including Celebration of Discipline, Streams of Living Water, and Prayer, which was Christianity Today's Book of the Year and the winner of the Gold Medallion Award from the Evangelical Christian Publishers Association. He is the founder of Renovaré, an intrachurch movement committed to the renewal of the Church in all her multifaceted expressions, and the editor of The Renovaré Spiritual Formation Bible.
Because of my training in the history of Christianity, I have been privileged to be introduced to many of the mystical or devotional classics, from Julian to Tozer, from Bonaventure to Hilton, from the Jesus Prayer monk to Brother Lawrence. My knowledge is hardly encyclopedic, but I say this in order to offer a context for what will strike some as a startling judgment: The single most helpful book for me to actually pray is this one, and it's one of the very few books I have worked through more than once.
Foster is a reliable guide, not least because he has the knack of saying, just when he's drawing me out of my comfort zone, "Now, you might be feeling uncomfortable about this, so...." He speaks as a contemporary North American to a contemporary North American and draws me into prayer, including modes of prayer that are neither natural nor even initially attractive to me. I can trust him to take me to places I want to go--in a way that I frankly don't trust some of the odder guides to prayer I have encountered (yes, I mean you, Catherine of Siena, bless your extravagant heart).
Prayer is much more than what any single book can offer, of course, and I can appreciate why some will bounce off this book as too technique-oriented, too plain-spoken, too much the contemporary North American handbook.
But if, like me from time to time, you need a good contemporary North American handbook, this one gets my top vote.
Edit: The review below gave this book 2 stars, and on this reading, I revised it to make it 4 stars. I did a church small group on each of the 3 parts of the book with some folks at my church and we found it good fodder for discussion.
I read Richard Foster's Prayer: Finding the Heart's True Home. I didn't much like it. Well there are parts I want to come back to, and I feel guilty criticizing a book on prayer by someone who has far-and-away-better-prayer-life than me, but it really didn't resonate with me. Here is why:
It is divided into three sections which (upward, inward, outward) and Foster relates each section to one of the Trinity. Each section has seven type of prayers which help you achieve one of these dimensions of prayer. It is encyclopedic, and I honestly think I will look back on particular chapters and try the different prayer methods, or suggest particular ways of praying to others I mentor. But despite its usefulness, I found Foster's whole project wrongheaded. I am not sure if what I need is a taxonomy of prayer, as helpful as it is.
I acknowledge that some of my aversion may come from my own experience in regard to prayer. Once upon a time I was at a Charismatic church because I sensed that God wanted me to be open to the Holy Spirit. That church was a great practitioner of healing prayer and taught about it a great deal. I learned some of that there, and was generally open minded. However, one of the pastor's would always suggest that if one 'type of prayer' didn't work, simply try another type of prayer. He would say that each type of prayer 'are tools in our tool box.' At first, I ate up what he was saying because God was obviously doing something through the prayers of the people there, but something about the toolbox comment made me bristle. Finally I figured out what it was.
Treating each type of prayer as a different tool in your prayer tool box, suggested that if you just prayed the right way, God was obligated to answer you the way you wanted him to. Now, nobody said this, and they would nuance this by saying that sometimes God doesn't heal, or answer our prayers. But the use of the tools in the toolbox image was technological and it promoted a sort of formulaic idea of prayer. I found it difficult to jump from the idea of prayer as a tool to prayer as a conversation or communion with God.
Now I know this is a lot of baggage to dump on Foster. But I remain skeptical of lists of ways to pray, in order to achieve this or that objective. I understand that some understanding of the multiple dynamics of true prayer means that you end up talking about it in different ways, but I struggle with this approach.
Foster has a knack for avoiding Scripture and expounding on unbiblical prayer practices. The lack of exegetical work and his claims of direct revelation were enough to keep me from recommending this book to anyone.
There is no condemnation in Christ Jesus--That is what I learned after reading this wonderful exposition on prayer. The book is basically a compilation of years of research on the subject of prayer. Richard Foster reviews every type of prayer imaginable, supports each style with historical facts, personal stories, and testimonies of every day people. Often times I hear people say, "I don't pray enough," or "I don't pray well." In most cases, this is simple not true. Richard does a great job of helping the reader have a great attitude towards prayer.
Really superb — wise, gentle, and challenging all in one. Much to revisit here in the future; much that is uncomfortable, even, but only because receiving it with comfort and joy would require me to be more mature and peaceable (and prayerful!) in spirit than I am at present! Foster warns at the beginning that not all of the book presupposes the same degree of Christian maturity, and that to adopt some of the prayer practices he describes later presupposes living out those he describes earlier (though, to be clear, it’s organized topically rather than sequentially).
A really wonderful overview of the vast array of types and models of prayer. He has created a helpful "manual", if you will, of much to consider or try when it comes to prayer.
I also appreciated how he drew from theologians and people across time, denominations, and traditions making this a really well-rounded resource. It's not from any one "camp".
While it did read a little dry to me (compared to the other books I've read on prayer: Paul Miller's "A Praying Life" and Tyler Staton's "Praying Like Monks, Living Like Fools") where it did excel is covering so much ground.
This book is an excellent introduction to, and survey of, the practice and experience of prayer for Christians. Richard Foster draws from many different traditions and experiences and distills them into this very fine and accessible work. It's very practical, unpretentious and inspiring. Foster helps us examine the many facets of prayer grouped according to three intentions on personal transformation, intimacy with God and ministry to others. Among its 21 chapters you may find aspects of prayer that are very familiar to you (maybe you had never thought of them as prayer before) along with encouragement to focus and deepen your efforts in those areas. Other types of prayer may be completely foreign to you but offer an invitation to explore. For those who want to take prayer more seriously this book is a very good place to begin. It is not an introduction in the sense of being superficial or shallow. It treats each aspect of prayer in enough depth to get the willing reader well on his or her way to a more effective and vital life of prayer. But it also shows us prayer as a vast, life long and life changing endeavor and points to the work of others who have explored the various disciplines of prayer more deeply. This books is essential reading.
I cannot think of any other work that so succinctly and comprehensively covers the topic of prayer. Foster once again delights readers with rich theological exposition of scripture coupled with powerful anecdotes from his own life. Following works like Celebration of Discipline, this book is sure to help one transform their walk with God into one that allows for a rich and powerful life of prayer.
Outstanding book. Each chapter is a rumination on a type of prayer: the biblical occurrences, the historical occurrences, and the author's personal experiences with this type of prayer. If you read this, your heart for prayer will be changed and your prayer life with be encouraged. I suggest reading a chapter a day to let each type of prayer sink in.
It took me a year to read (digest) this book. I couldn't stop, but I couldn't rush it either. Having finished it, I feel like I'm standing on higher ground. More than any other of its genre that I've seen, this book covers the topic of prayer. each chapter discusses a different "type" of prayer, all of which fall into the three categories of inward, upward, and outward - in that order (like Nouwen's writings). The book works well as a sort of progression, through which you can walk, practice, and grow. Foster takes his time to explain and discuss issues and challenges, and rounds it out with personal stories and examples which can leave you blown away and inspired. Prayer really is what we exist for, and where the work gets done.
Beautiful words. So many different ways to pray and live out a prayer filled life.
" The work of our hands and of our minds is acted out prayer, a love offering to the living God" " It is precisely in the "slop bucket job", the work that we abhor, where we will find God the most." " The discovery of God lies in the daily and the ordinary, not in the spectacular and the heroic.. If we cannot find God in the routines of home and shop, then we will not find him at all. Ours is to be a symphonic piety in which all the activities of work and play and family and worship and sleep are the holy habits of the eternal."
This book certainly challenged my prayer life and faith that my prayers are heard. I read it as a recommendation by Phylicia Masonheimer in one of her email newsletters. It gave tons of scriptural support for all the ideas it presented, although the section about prayers for healing toward the end of the book felt a little new-agey and not based on scripture, so i docked it 2 stars for that: ideas like “you have to visualize the cells repairing themselves in order for your prayer to be more powerful” (not a direct quote). Everything else for the most part seemed solid.
It's dense with practical examples and Godly wisdom about prayer. After each chapter I thought about how much I'm looking forward to going back and reading it again. It's transformed my idea of what it means to have faith and to pray. Probably the best book a Christian can read besides the Bible.
O livro é dividido em 3 momentos: movimento para dentro (mudando-nos), movimento para cima (adorando, descansando e ouvindo a Deus) e movimento para fora (intercedendo pelos outros). “A verdadeira e completa oração não é outra coisa senão o amor (Santo Agostinho).”
Woweeeee a lot to wrap my head around and a lot to put into practice. Will definitely be re-reading chapter by chapter and trying to implement some of these practices into my little life. Mind blown and stretched 🤯
This book was so good! Foster is pretty exhaustive in his description and teaching on various forms and aspects of prayer; to the point that I leave the book a bit intimidated. This is one that I will have to return to again and use as a reference for teaching in the future.
There were many chapters that gave me new insight into prayer and the many ways to pray. I’ll need to return to this one in order to get the most out of it since I listened to it in audio form this first time. Highly recommend to anyone looking to dive more deeply into their own prayer life. The reason why it didn’t get 5 stars is because I felt the chapter on healing prayer was misleading.
I seriously read on this book for something like 2 years. It reads easy but I always felt I needed to chew on the truth for a bit before reading more. I can honestly say this has improved my prayer life greatly. Maybe I'll just start it over again, haha!
Prayer: Finding the Heart's True Home is better than I expected. Good books inspire you to read other, older books the author draws on. This book will inspire you to read Augustine, Luther, and others. First published in 1992, it's already a "classic." Great book to start 2014 with.
Foster gives examples of many types of prayer as practiced and described by earlier church fathers. But what I appreciated about this book is Foster's embrace of a theology of work. Work is worship, it is a prayer we offer to God. It is incorrect to say "If only I had more time to pray, instead of having to work today." Our work itself is a prayer, and since wherever we are the Holy Spirit goes with us, wherever we are is holy ground. We can worship there, we must worship there. Do you think Jesus didn't worship as a carpenter, or Paul as a tentmaker? Foster once worked among Eskimos in Alaska, and noted how the Eskimo Christians embedded this theology of work in their daily lives. "You're digging this ditch for the glory of God," Foster was told, which changed his life.
Foster is a Quaker and taught me that waiting is worship.Whether waiting in line at the grocery or waiting on lab test results or waiting to see what next year will bring-- that act of waiting and anticipation should be worship.We don't like to wait and we don't like to listen, but that's a form of prayer that God answers.
Foster reminds me of a Sunday school teacher we had in Waco, I'm sure Mike has read and been influenced by this book. He discusses his own transformation in regards to approaching prayers for healing-- from a skeptic to an active practitioner; he tells of Augustine's similar conversion as described in Augustine's City of God. We Baptists often hinder our own prayers by justifying our own doubts and God's inaction with the "if it be Your will..." clause at the end of healing prayers-- Foster has no patience for this.
I also appreciated his outlining of the importance of small-group community and prayer, giving an example of what he tries to live out and others he knows of. He describes community in a way I find ideal. I give this book 4.5 stars. I look forward to reading his Celebration of Discipline.
This is a book I'm taking my time reading through and digesting. I have been frustrated for years and years with sermons and books on prayer. Essentially what I got from them was a call to duty (not necessarily a bad thing), and guilt (not a good thing). MOst people I've heard seem to say that they themselves are not "good at praying." Something about this seems off with me. Finally I decided I wanted to spend some time truly thinking about prayer itself, and not feeling guilty. Long story short, a friend and theologian handed me this book, saying he thought it was likely what I was looking for. Indeed it is. I find myself drawn into prayer rather than guilted into a ritual. This is an extremely honest and humble book and breaks down the heart's questions about prayer beautifully. I will say that Foster comes from the Spiritual Formations way of thinking, and there are times where, as a young mother, some of the spiritual formations practices can seem a bit out of reach and somewhat mystical. However, in general, I think this book answers the practical questions of the heart, and teaches you not to try to "make something happen," but to engage with the creator.
I'm guessing it will take me some time to get through this book as I think through it, but so very thankful for the wonderful insight.
I really enjoyed this book and it was super helpful for me. I intend to return to it often, and I am trying to "translate" it into child's language for my daughter. I will say that there were chapters I'm clearly not ready to contend with at this stage in my life/journey. In addition, it turns out I will be reading another book on prayer (by D.A. Carson) with another group this Fall, and I think it will be a good foil for my feelings of incompatibility with the spiritual formations/mystical movement.
3.5 stars [Christian Praxis] (W: 2.75, U: 4.5, T: 3.75) Exact rating: 3.67 #6 in genre, out of 49
Foster's book is a deep work on prayer, the best I have yet read. Chapters are divided into types of prayer. Each type is not only explained, and delivered with modern anecdotes or parallels, but historical statements and explanations are included too, along with a satisfying amount of books recommended for further study.
I was wary of Foster, due to his descent into great error in a single chapter of The Celebration of Discipline. But, since the rest of that book was refreshing and exciting, I tried this one out. A similar result came from this book; the Preface and last chapter were suspicious (due to a strange quote from a non-Christian, awkward hedging on calling God "He," misclassifying a piece of biblical terminology, and saying some things which hinted of a skewed sociological worldview). However, everything else was fairly excellent material.
The writing evinced lexical sophistication, bringing up a 2.5 rating due to mediocre elements of pacing and verve to a 2.75. The truths are rare , but with occasional devolution into plausible falsehoods , to make a 3.75 rating. Maybe I will enumerate them after my 3rd reading. However, this book remains a deep well, in which God may encounter the reader.