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: ren​o​vare​.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.

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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