Monday, March 26, 2012

Richard J. Foster on Prayer

I mentioned in an earlier post that during Lent some friends and I are studying Richard J. Foster's Celebration of Discipline: The Path to Spiritual Growth. We've discovered that not all aspects of this particular book speak to the fullness of our experience as spiritual seekers. Nevertheless, Foster's work contains many inspiring spiritual insights worth reflecting upon and sharing. An example is the following excerpt from the book's chapter on prayer.

To pray is to change. Prayer is the central avenue God uses to transform us. If we are unwilling to change, we will abandon prayer as a noticeable characteristic of our lives. The closer we come to the heartbeat of God the more we see our need and the more we desire to be conformed to Christ. William Blake tells us that our task in life is to learn to bear God's "beams of love." How often we fashion cloaks of evasion – beam-proof shelters – in order to elude our Eternal Lover. But when we pray, God slowly and graciously reveals to us our evasive actions and sets us free from them.

. . . We must never wait until we feel like praying . . . Prayer is like any other work; we may not feel like working, but once we have been at it for a bit, we begin to feel like working. We may not feel like practicing the piano, but once we play for a while, we feel like doing it. In the same way, our prayer muscles need to be limbered up a bit and once the blood-flow of intercession begins, we will find that we feel like praying.

– Richard J. Foster
Celebration of Discipline
pp. 33 and 45

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