Friday, January 03, 2014

Book Review (#1 of 2014) Prayer by Richard J. Foster

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.

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