“Encouraging Words for Today” – September 20, 2011
By Lucinda Secrest McDowell
Have you been in a far country? A country of climb and push and shove? A country of noise and hurry and crowds? God wants to welcome you Home to peace and serenity and joy… and meditative prayer will help guide the journey.
More than 20 years ago Richard Foster, like many of us authors, was bogged down in research for a new book and was at the point of discouragement and overload, ready to abandon the project. But, in an inexplicable moment, he saw the heart of God as an open wound of love and heard God’s words “Tell my people, tell my children, that my heart is broken. Their distance and their preoccupation wound me. Tell them. Tell my children to come home.”
With renewed vigor, he did go on to finish that project (“Prayer: Finding the Heart’s True Home”) as well as another book that just came out this month, “Sanctuary of the Soul” – both of which help travelers like you and me learn prayer as a holy habit, culminating in transformation. “We never thought in our wildest dreams that we would ever want to be a holy person. But now that is exactly what we long for, to be holy in a strong, winsome, vigorous sense. And the most amazing change of all is we begin living each day under a new power – owned by God and responding accordingly.”
This past summer the folks at InterVarsity Press gave me an ARC (advanced reader’s copy) of “Sanctuary of the Soul” – just in time to read on my quiet holiday by the turquoise sea… Because I, too, have felt God calling me to contemplation and silence and long periods of prayer (for many people and in a variety of ways). I, too, feel that “distraction is the primary spiritual problem of our day.” And so, I have journeyed into meditative prayer for several years now and find myself evangelistic in encouraging others to pursue this path as well.
A great place to start (or continue) would be with this excellent book, subtitled “—Journey into Meditative Prayer.” This small volume truly combines the biblical teaching as well as step-by-step practices to help make this spiritual discipline a regular part of life. I especially appreciated Foster’s personal stories illustrating his own struggles and victories in this area. In fact, I’d like to use his own words in closing:
“As best I can, I am telling you that God is welcoming you and God is welcoming me home, home to where we belong, home to that for which we were created. We need not be afraid. God’s arms are stretched out wide to take us in. God’s heart is large enough to receive us. Welcome to the Living Room of God’s love, where we can put on old slippers and share freely. Welcome to the Kitchen of God’s friendship, where chatter and batter mix in good fun. Welcome to the Dining Room of God’s strength, where we can feast to our heart’s delight. Welcome to the Study of God’s wisdom, where we can grow and stretch and ask all the questions we want. Welcome to the Workshop of God’s creativity, where we become co-laborers with God. Welcome to the Bedroom of God’s rest, where new peace is found. Jesus is the doorway into this home that is the heart of God, and prayer is the key…Welcome home. Welcome to the sanctuary of the soul.”
– Richard Foster in “Sanctuary of the Soul”
under the mercy,