Editor's note:

Found in archives dat­ed in 1979, one year after the pub­li­ca­tion of Cel­e­bra­tion of Dis­ci­pline, these hon­est jour­nal entries pro­vide a help­ful win­dow into Richard Fos­ter’s dai­ly exper­i­ment with lis­ten­ing to God moment by moment.

—Renovaré Team

One great need today is for seri­ous Chris­tians to engage in orig­i­nal research in the life of the Spir­it. Like any team of sci­en­tists, we would help one anoth­er immense­ly if we would share our find­ings. To this end I share some brief excerpts from my jour­nal which tell of an exper­i­ment in attempt­ing to draw clos­er to the divine heartbeat. 

Mon­day

Today I want to begin an exper­i­ment of lis­ten­ing to God every moment of my day. I desire to know God’s voice in the dai­ly junc­tions of my life, to learn his vocab­u­lary through ordi­nary tasks. The promise is for an ever-present Teacher; my prob­lem is the fre­quen­cy of unex­cused absences. I tend to attend class” only in times of devo­tion or med­i­ta­tion. The need is to hear God speak through rou­tine activ­i­ties, to dis­cern the divine word in dai­ly ventures. 

Tues­day

I think the Heav­en­ly Voice spoke through my emo­tions today. Feel­ings of lone­li­ness and of being shut out by oth­ers net­tled me. I believe 1 heard two things. First, the feel­ing of self- pity shows my dis­tance from a walk of faith. Sec­ond, Christ point­ed to lone­ly hurt­ing peo­ple and invit­ed me to care for them. 

Wednes­day

A dull day, light­ened by some mean­ing­ful con­ver­sa­tion with H.T. in the evening. Went through the whole day with­out lis­ten­ing at all. Lord, how is it that I can have such wide fluc­tu­a­tions in my deter­mi­na­tion to open myself to your voice? 

Fri­day

Since engag­ing in this orig­i­nal research”, I am hear­ing so many things about myself. The Teacher is faith­ful. I spoke tonight, and though peo­ple seemed encour­aged and lift­ed, I was crushed. As I lis­tened, I found that sev­er­al things I said were com­plete­ly unnec­es­sary except for the fact that they placed me in a favor­able light. I was angry and dis­ap­point­ed with myself, then real­ized that this too was the vocab­u­lary of God. I closed the meet­ing with a prayer of repen­tance, though I imag­ine no one under­stood why. 

Sun­day

My mind was engaged in a thou­sand things today. Lis­ten­ing to God was hard because inward­ly I seemed so frag­ment­ed. Then sud­den­ly I became aware of the silent cre­ation all around me — trees, grass, sky — and I heard God. The word was peace”.

Mon­day

What a les­son in lis­ten­ing today! I had a meet­ing in a near­by city at noon, but left at 10 because I had sev­er­al things to do. The tasks were fin­ished much more quick­ly than expect­ed and by 11 I was ready for the meet­ing. At first I was angry at the prospect of one full hour wast­ed, but then I stopped and tried to lis­ten to the Heav­en­ly Mon­i­tor. I felt impressed to go on to the church where the meet­ing was to be held — to find a vacant room for study, I thought. Instead I found the pas­tor who was des­per­ate­ly alone and want­i­ng to talk with me. He pro­ceed­ed to pour out his fears and hurts. It was a won­der­ful time and well worth the invest­ment of an hour. Would I have missed this pre­cious expe­ri­ence if I had failed to listen?

Tues­day

Is there any con­nec­tion between atten­tive­ness to the Divine Voice and the flow of cre­ative ideas? All morn­ing there was such a rush of fresh new thoughts that I bare­ly had time to record them all.

Fri­day

At the beach today with Car­olynn for rest and recre­ation of our mar­riage. Felt the need to be away from the exper­i­ment” a bit. Won­dered if I am strain­ing too hard after God, and in the very act los­ing what I am seek­ing. Tried just to enjoy the wind and sun with­out get­ting any mes­sage” out of it all. Sensed the divine nod in the decision. 

Wednes­day

The dis­ci­pline of lis­ten­ing to God is still out­side of me and some­thing I must work at by an act of the will. How strange that it seems like work — shows how far we have fall­en from the days of the Gar­den of Eden! But it is eas­i­er than when I began. I look for the day when it is such an ingrained habit pat­tern that I will find it as hard” as breathing! 

Mon­day

We all received the news today that C.M. has a ter­mi­nal ill­ness. Imme­di­ate­ly I won­dered if I should go to her and pray for her heal­ing. (And One can think of many rea­sons why it would be right for her to get well.) Though I know it is nor­mal­ly God’s will for peo­ple to get well, some­how I felt a check, and so decid­ed that I should take this morn­ing to lis­ten and see if I received any instruc­tion. About 45 min­utes lat­er I was read­ing in The Lit­tle Flow­ers of St. Fran­cis of a dying man who had a won­der­ful vis­i­ta­tion from the Lord, in which God gave him great com­fort and enlight­en­ment and then took him home. Felt that to be the Lord’s word for me, i.e., pray that God will give C.M. great com­fort and enlight­en­ment and then take her home.

Tues­day

Nathan has been get­ting us up all hours of the night and then wak­ing up to stay at 5:30 AM. It has been a great frus­tra­tion to me, and although I have prayed often about it there has been no out­ward change. Ear­ly this morn­ing (much ear­li­er than I would have liked!) I real­ized that not once all week had I sought to lis­ten to God to see what the prob­lem was. So I went into the liv­ing room and sought to cen­ter myself into his life and light. And the answer came: I want to teach you my patience. Too eas­i­ly you get angry and out of tune with my way. You think you have a rea­son for your anger and frus­tra­tion, and so you do. But I want to trans­form your inward spir­it so total­ly that you will be full of peace and patience even when you have a right to be frus­trat­ed and angry. This is what it means for my words to be in you. When you are at peace you are in tune with me and then you will be able to pray for the chil­dren with spir­i­tu­al success.”

After express­ing my thanks for this word” and seek­ing to bring my life in line with its truth, I prayed for Nathan. Imme­di­ate­ly he fell into a deep sleep and did not awak­en until 6:45 AM

As I con­tin­ued to lis­ten, I received a sec­ond mes­sage, this time through Car­olynn: I think we should have the chil­dren stay up an extra half hour at night.” So sim­ple, yet so wise, and some­how that lit­tle word of advice stood out from all the oth­er words as a mes­sage from the Lord. It is strange, this sense of one sen­tence stand­ing out from all the oth­ers, as if it were spo­ken in italics. 

Thurs­day

I am find­ing that lis­ten­ing works much bet­ter when I am engaged in mis­sion. Rather like those mis­siles whose guid­ance sys­tems work only after the mis­sile is launched.

Fri­day

Jesus came and took C. M. home tonight. 

Mon­day

It is won­der­ful, this lis­ten­ing to God. Received a cou­ple of hate” let­ters today and imme­di­ate­ly felt the joy of God at being able to receive their anger. Searched my heart and felt clear of all accu­sa­tions. Sensed an increas­ing free­dom from the need to jus­ti­fy or explain myself — a won­der­ful lib­er­a­tion. Felt the warmth of divine pres­ence that was beyond the need for words. I am only just begin­ning to under­stand what Fran­cis of Assisi meant when he spoke of per­fect joy being found in suf­fer­ing with­out cause.

We’re glad you’re here!

Help­ing peo­ple like you abide with Jesus is why we post resources like this one. Always ad-free, Ren­o­varé is sup­port­ed by those who know soul-care is vital. Would you join us?

Donate >

Originally published February 1979