Introductory 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!

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

📚 The 2022 – 23 Ren­o­varé Book Club

This year’s nine-month, soul-shap­ing jour­ney fea­tures four books, old and new, prayer­ful­ly curat­ed by Ren­o­varé. Now under­way and there’s still time to join.

View Selections & Learn More >