Introductory Note:

I was stuck! I wasn’t changing as I thought a Christian should. My rationale for the way I was living was the assumption that life is about muddling through until you die and go to heaven. Dallas Willard says, “There is a general pattern that all effective efforts toward personal transformation … must follow.” This pattern consists of Vision, Intention, and Means. If Dallas had known me, he would have said that my vision was inadequate for the life I yearned for … and he would have been right.

I love to read, and one day I was looking through the religion section at Barnes and Noble. I came upon a book by Richard Foster entitled Prayer: Finding the Heart’s True Home. For a man with an inadequate vision, the book turned out to be a wonderful purchase. God the great Initiator used a few sentences right near the book’s beginning to grab my heart and present me with a vision of himself and the close relationship he desired to have with me. Those words became for me the beginning a great adventure—I pray they enlarge your vision as well!

Dick Baxter

Excerpt from Prayer: Finding the Heart's True Home

God has graciously allowed me to catch a glimpse into his heart, and I want to share with you what I have seen. Today the heart of God is an open wound of love. He aches over our distance and preoccupation. He mourns that we do not draw near to him. He grieves that we have forgotten him. He weeps over our obsession with muchness and manyness. He longs for our presence. 

And he is inviting you — and me — to come home, to come home to where we belong, to come home to that for which we were created. His arms are stretched out wide to receive us. His heart is enlarged to take us in. 

For too long we have been in a far country: a country of noise and hurry and crowds, a country of climb and push and shove, a country of frustration and fear and intimidation. And he welcomes us home: home to serenity and peace and joy, home to friendship and fellowship and openness, home to intimacy and acceptance and affirmation. 

We do not need to be shy. He invites us into the living room of his heart, where we can put on old slippers and share freely. He invites us into the kitchen of his friendship, where chatter and batter mix in good fun. He invites us into the dining room of his strength, where we can feast to our heart’s delight. He invites us into the study of his wisdom, where we can learn and grow and stretch … and ask all the questions we want. He invites us into the workshop of his creativity, where we can be co-laborers with him, working together to determine the outcomes of events. He invites us into the bedroom of his rest, where new peace is found and where we can be naked and vulnerable and free. It is also the place of deepest intimacy, where we know and are known to the fullest. 

The Key and the Door 

The key to this home, this heart of God, is prayer. Perhaps you have never prayed before except in anguish or terror. It may be that the only time the Divine Name has been on your lips has been in angry expletives. Never mind. I am here to tell you that the Father’s heart is open wide — you are welcome to come in.

Perhaps you do not believe in prayer. You may have tried to pray and were profoundly disappointed … and disillusioned. You seem to have little faith, or none. It does not matter. The Father’s heart is open wide — you are welcome to come in. 

Perhaps you are bruised and broken by the pressures of life. Others have wronged you, and you feel scarred for life. You have old, painful memories that have never been healed. You avoid prayer because you feel too distant, too unworthy, too defiled. Do not despair. The Father’s heart is open wide — you are welcome to come in. 

Perhaps you have prayed for many years, but the words have grown brittle and cold. Little ever happens anymore. God seems remote and inaccessible. Listen to me. The Father’s heart is open wide — you are welcome to come in. 

Perhaps prayer is the delight of your life. You have lived in the divine milieu for a long time and can attest to its goodness. But you long for more: more power, more love, more of God in your life. Believe me. The Father’s heart is open wide— you too are welcome to come higher up and deeper in. If the key is prayer, the door is Jesus Christ. How good of God to provide us a way into his heart. He knows that we are stiff-necked and hard-hearted, so he has provided a means of entrance. Jesus, the Christ, lived a perfect life, died in our place, and rose victorious over all the dark powers so that we might live through him. This is wonderfully good news. No longer do we have to stand outside, barred from nearness to God by our rebellion. We may now enter through the door of God’s grace and mercy in Jesus Christ. 

Text First Published August 1992

New Online Course: Living Inside the Lord’s Prayer

Author, teacher, and songwriter Carolyn Arends pulls back the veil of familiarity to throw fresh light on the brilliantly succinct prayer Jesus taught his disciples to pray.

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