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Prayer: Finding the Heart’s True Home

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Best-selling creator 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 Author of the universe? Who hasn’t questioned whether prayer isn’t merely psychological manipulation in any case? 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 should discover ways to transform 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.

There are hundreds of books on prayer, and much of the advice they contain is likely to be the same. So what distinguishes these books? Call it a kind of wisdom, a sense that here’s someone who knows something of God’s heart. A good example can be found in this fine book by the Quaker author and teacher Richard Foster. The creator of the bestselling Celebration of Discipline explores quite a lot of aspects of prayer, which he defines in one place as “the human response to the perpetual outpouring of love by which God lays siege to every soul.” Beginning with the simplest forms of prayer–what he calls “strange people bringing … strange concerns to a loving and compassionate Father”–he then explores the deeper places where prayer becomes not simply petition but an approach to life. He writes of prayer of adoration and rest, sacramental prayer, meditation, and contemplation, and in the final section of the book moves outward into ministry, where prayer meets the needs of the world. In each chapter Foster defines, describes, and gives helpful examples. Above all he writes with grace–in both the artistic and spiritual senses. –Doug Thorpe

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