Excerpt from The Making Of An Ordinary Saint

Prayer is the heart’s true home. But, you see, we have been in a far coun­try. It’s been a coun­try of climb and push and shove. It’s been a coun­try of noise and hur­ry and crowds.

The heart of God is an open wound of love because of this dis­tance and pre­oc­cu­pa­tion of ours. God mourns that we do not draw near to him. God weeps over our obses­sion with much­ness” and many­ness.”

And God is seek­ing after us. God seeks us like the father rush­ing out to embrace the prodi­gal. God seeks us like the woman who will leave no stone unturned in her deter­mi­na­tion to find a lost coin. God seeks us like the shep­herd search­ing, search­ing, search­ing for one lost sheep. God is seek­ing us. 

God invites us to come home: home to where we belong; home to seren­i­ty and peace and joy; home to inti­ma­cy and accep­tance and affirmation. 

God wel­comes us into the liv­ing room of his heart where we can put on old slip­pers and share freely. God wel­comes us into the bed­room of his rest where we can be naked and vul­ner­a­ble and free. It is also the place of deep­est inti­ma­cy where we can know and be known to the fullest. 

And it doesn’t mat­ter if we have lit­tle faith, or none. It doesn’t mat­ter if we have been bruised and bro­ken by the pres­sures of life. It doesn’t mat­ter if our prayers have grown cold and brit­tle. It doesn’t mat­ter if God seems remote and inaccessible. 

Just like a lit­tle child can nev­er draw a bad pic­ture, so a child of God can nev­er utter a bad prayer. God, you see, accepts us just the way we are, and he accepts our prayers just the way they are. 

But here is the beau­ty of this inter­ac­tive life of prayer: God does not leave us the way we are. God’s inten­tion is to trans­form our inward char­ac­ter into the like­ness of Christ. C. S. Lewis writes that God’s intent for you and me is to form us into a daz­zling, radi­ant, immor­tal crea­ture, pul­sat­ing all through with such ener­gy and joy and wis­dom and love as we can­not now imag­ine, a bright stain­less mir­ror which reflects back to God per­fect­ly (though, of course, on a small­er scale) His own bound­less pow­er and delight and good­ness.”1 The inter­ac­tive life of prayer is a cen­tral means God uses for bring­ing this trans­for­ma­tive real­i­ty into the deep habit struc­tures of our lives. 

Now, we must not think of prayer as a flat, dull, one-dimen­sion­al expe­ri­ence. Far from it! Prayer is a dance, a love feast, a wrestling match, a high, hilar­i­ous par­ty… I could con­tin­ue adding metaphors for some time. Prayer is so rich and var­ied and indi­vid­u­al­ized a reality. 

The syn­tax of prayer is love. True, whole prayer is noth­ing but love,” writes Augus­tine of Hip­po.2 The Trin­i­ty is our ever­last­ing lover,” declares Julian of Nor­wich.3 Jesus, lover of my soul, let me to Thy bosom fly,” cries out Charles Wes­ley.4 The heart of God is open wide to receive us; we are wel­come to come home.

Fos­ter, Nathan. The Mak­ing of an Ordi­nary Saint: My Jour­ney from Frus­tra­tion to Joy with the Spir­i­tu­al Dis­ci­plines. Bak­er Pub­lish­ing Group. Kin­dle Edition.

In Nathan’s book, intro­duc­tions to each chap­ter — like this one from the Prayer chap­ter — were writ­ten by Richard Foster.

[1] C. S. Lewis, Mere Chris­tian­i­ty (1952; New York: Harper­Collins, 2001), 205– 6.

[2] Augus­tine quot­ed in Richard J. Fos­ter, Prayer: Find­ing the Heart’s True Home (New York: Harper­Collins, 1992), 255.

[3] Denise Nowakows­ki Bak­er, Julian of Norwich’s Show­ings: From Vision to Book (Prince­ton: Prince­ton Uni­ver­si­ty Press, 1997), 145.

[4] Charles Wes­ley, Jesus, Lover of My Soul,” 1740.

Text First Published September 2014

📚 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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