Editor's 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. 

Originally published August 1992

Starting Soon: The 2020-21 Renovaré Book Club

An inten­tion­al way to read for trans­for­ma­tion not just infor­ma­tion. Runs Sep­tem­ber 2020 through May 2021.

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