From the Renovaré Newsletter Archive

The selection below is from a July 1991 Renovaré newsletter. Download a PDF of the original newsletter.

In recent months, without trying to or even wanting to, Carolynn and I have been experiencing the Prayer of Relinquishment in intimate detail. The Bible is full of this form of prayer, the most dramatic being the unparalleled experience of our Lord in the garden where he cried out, If possible let this cup pass … nevertheless … not my will but Thine be done!”

Severing Precious Roots

In the winter of 1990 prophetic utterance was spoken over me, the first half of which relates to our family and has been occurring in the most encouraging and faith-building ways. The second half of this message had to do with some deep trials we would go through which would result in our being catapulted into a whole new realm of effective ministry.

I did not know what to think of this last half of the message until last February when I received an unusual revelation from God, the gist of which indicated that I would be severing some very precious roots in my life. At first I misunderstood these words, assuming that they referred to my relationship with a national group of writers I was with at the time and to which I give leadership. (The fact that God speaks to us is no guarantee that we hear or understand correctly!) In time I came to see that God was speaking about the deep roots we had in Wichita and our beloved Friends University. This was confirmed by numerous circumstances and the wise counsel of many from around the country.

Only the Beginning

But it was only the beginning of our experience of the Prayer of Relinquishment. We were releasing far more than the warm friendships of more than a dozen years, far more than the base from which Renovaré has been birthed and nurtured.

I am the Executive Director of a think tank for writers called The Milton Center. I founded this Center five years ago, and I continue to have very high hopes for its future. I have had to relinquish it. For years Carolynn and I dreamed of building a toxin-free home in hopes of gaining an upper hand on her rather severe allergies. Carolynn spent one entire year designing and overseeing the building of it. We moved in only last February. We have had to relinquish it. And so much more.

The Necessity of Struggle

These decisions have not come easily. We prayed. We struggled. We wept. We went back and forth, back and forth, weighing option after option. We prayed again, struggled again, wept again.

Struggle, you see, is an essential feature of the Prayer of Relinquishment. Jesus struggled in the garden, so much so that his sweat became like great drops of blood. All of the luminaries in Scripture struggled as well: Abraham as he relinquished his son Isaac; Moses as he relinquished his understanding of how the Deliverer of Israel should function; David as he relinquished the son given to him by Bathsheba; Mary as she relinquished control over her future.

Struggle is important because the Prayer of Relinquishment is Christian prayer and not Fatalism. We do not resign ourselves to fate. We are not locked into a pre-set, determinist future. Ours is an open, not a closed, universe. We are co-laborers with God” as the Apostle Paul put it – working with God to determine the outcome of events. Therefore our prayer efforts are a genuine give and take, a true dialogue with God. And relinquishment is our full and wholehearted agreement with God that his way is altogether right and good.

Release with Hope

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 are able to see is the tangled threads on the backside of life’s tapestry, we know that God is good and is out to do us good always. And 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. Besides, often we hold so tightly to the good that we do know that we cannot receive the greater good that we do not know. And God has to help us let go of our tiny vision in order to release the greater reality he has in store for us.

Farewell and God Speed

And so the coming year will be a time of transition. We say farewell and God speed to the University and friends who have given so much support, nurture, and joy to our lives. We will always be grateful for our years here. We express our heartfelt thanks to the board, administration, faculty, and staff of Friends University who have believed in us and encouraged us.

We hope to relocate the Renovaré offices and have a new address in place by July 1, 1992. Where that will be is yet to be determined. Already we have some exciting possibilities both in this country and beyond. Pray with us that we will be discerning, wise, prudent, and adventuresome! And that in God’s time the Prayer of Relinquishment will turn into the Prayer of Celebration.

Peace and joy,

Richard J. Foster

Text First Published July 1991

📚 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.

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