From the Renovaré Newsletter Archive

The selection below is from a January 1992 Renovaré newsletter. Download a PDF of the original newsletter.

I must tell you of a recent experiment in prayer. I had just finished a major manuscript—Prayer: Finding the Heart’s True Home—and had sent it off to the publishers. After completing this task of several years duration, I found that I could not pray. Could not” is not exactly correct … did not want to” is more to the point. In part, I was experiencing the very natural let down that comes after such an all-consuming project.

But, regardless of the causes, the clear fact was that I had no heart for prayer. I struggled on for a couple of weeks, trying to make myself do what I had no desire or motivation to do.

My Friends Had Become My Prayer

Finally I shared with my Spiritual Formation Group what was going on inside me. These three men listened with quiet understanding. They extended grace and mercy to me. Their only requirement was that I end work a little earlier each day and give that time to physical exercise.

That evening as I was jogging, I decided on a course of action that I shared with my SFG in a letter. In the relevant passage I wrote, I have decided that it would be good for me to rest from any attempts at prayer for one week. Instead, I will seek to walk/jog an hour each day and see where I am come next Wednesday. If any of you feel drawn to pray in my stead’ for this week, that would be great. Also, remembering our family and covering us with your prayers would be helpful. I will let you know next Wednesday how things are going. Peace & joy. RJF.” Almost immediately I felt release, knowing that my friends had become my prayer.

The next morning I woke up wanting to pray! Glad for the renewed desire, I did, however, stick to my plan and went throughout my days sustained by the prayers of others. Every evening I would jog at a nearby park, not trying to pray, but simply to observe the world around me: the trees budding out too early for their own good, the prairie grasses dry and brown from the winter frosts, the numberless ducks swimming and playing and quacking for my attention, and the magnificent Canadian geese which winter on the small lakes in the area. The week went by quickly.

Following My Best Prayers

By the next Wednesday I was ready to pray again. My friends had helped me let go of my tight-fisted hold on life and had sustained me by their intercessions. Once I relaxed, I could experience the meaning of grace and follow my best prayers. Through it all I came to appreciate better the words of Madame Jeanne Guyon, Rest. Rest. Rest in God’s love. The only work you are required now to do is to give your most intense attention to His still, small voice within.”

Peace and joy,

Richard J. Foster

Art by Helena Lopes on Unsplash and by Susan Wilkinson on Unsplash

Text First Published January 1992