Editor's note:

Sometimes, the start of a new year can serve as an impetus to let go of the destructive things in our lives. The Prayer of Relinquishment can move us from “the struggling to the releasing,” as Richard Foster writes in his book, Prayer: Finding the Heart’s True Home.

Today, we are borrowing a bit from that book—sharing with you a story of Richard’s own struggle with relinquishment as related to writing his book Celebration of Discipline. It may interest you to know that 2018 marks the 40-year anniversary of this modern classic, so this seems like an apropos way to launch the year. To find out more about this anniversary and some exciting events surrounding it, please check out this page: renovare.org/40. Thanks!

—Renovaré Team

Excerpt from Prayer: Finding the Heart's True Home

The Prayer of Relinquishment is a bona fide letting go, but it is a release with hope. We have no fatalist resignation. We are buoyed up by a confident trust in the character of God. Even when all we see are the tangled threads on the backside of life’s tapestry, we know that God is good and is out to do us good always. That gives us hope to believe that we are the winners, regardless of what we are being called upon to relinquish. God is inviting us deeper in and higher up. There is training in righteousness, transforming power, new joys, deeper intimacy.

Sometimes the very thing we relinquish is given back to us. Before writing my first book, Celebration of Discipline, I did nothing but talk about it for a solid year. Carolynn grew tired of hearing me rattle on. It was my grand obsession.

Then I attended a large conference where a well-known author—one of the featured speakers—shared rather offhandedly how destructive his writing career had been to his marriage. It was a casual comment, not pertinent to the topic of the conference, but I heard nothing else the entire week. Echoing in my ears was the query: “Are you willing to relinquish this book in favor of Carolynn and the boys?”

God was speaking to me, of course, but I was simply frustrated and angry: “Why would God put a book idea in my heart and then tell me not to write it? And besides, here I’ve come all this way and spent all this money and I can’t concentrate on a single thing the speakers are saying. What a waste!” But the question kept hounding me.

My flight got home late Sunday evening. The ride from the airport was filled with chitchat about the children and the leaky faucet and the bills that were due. Carolynn knew nothing about my internal struggle. Once in the house I held her in my arms and said firmly, “Honey, I want you to know that you are more important to me than this book project. I won’t write it if it will ever damage our relationship.” That was that. I went to bed sure I would never write the book.

That was Sunday night. On Tuesday morning I met the person from Harper & Row who was to become my editor. The rest is history. And, you know, to this day I cannot remember a single thing the speakers at that conference said!

Starting Soon: The 2018-19 Renovaré Book Club

How do we read for transformation, not just information? Choose books that stir the soul and have an enduring quality. Then read with God and others at an unhurried pace, attentive to what the Holy Spirit wants to teach. The Renovaré Book Club is designed for transformative reading. It runs October 2018—May 2019.

Learn more >

Excerpted from Prayer: Finding the Heart’s True Home (HarperOne, 1992), pp. 52-53.