Sanctuary of the Soul: Journey into Meditative Prayer - eBook  -     By: Richard J. Foster
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Sanctuary of the Soul: Journey into Meditative Prayer - eBook

IVP Books / 2011 / ePub

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Product Description

In 1 Kings Chapter 19 we read how the prophet Elijah went to meet with God on Mount Horeb. There was an earthquake, fire and wind, but God chose to speak to Elijah in a whisper. So it is today that God often speaks when we slow ourselves down to listen to His voice. According to Richard Foster, listening is at the heart of meditative prayer and in Sanctuary of the Soul he explores this faith tradition, showing its biblical roots and sharing insights from Christian writers, of both recent and classical tradition. Foster's introduction will give you step-by-step help to begin this enriching prayer practice for yourself.

Product Information

Format: DRM Free ePub
Vendor: IVP Books
Publication Date: 2011
ISBN: 9780830869039
ISBN-13: 9780830869039
Availability: In Stock

Publisher's Description

"At the very heart of God is the passionate disposition to be in loving fellowship with you. . . . From the human side of this equation it is meditative prayer that ushers us into this divine-human fellowship." Richard Foster, bestselling author and founder of Renovaré, writes these words as one who has experienced what they describe. And in this new book he will beautifully guide you in this transformational way, that you might come to know deeper fellowship with God. Weaving together quotes and stories from the lives of mothers and fathers of the faith as well as powerful encounters with God from his own life, Foster describes the riches of quieting your mind and heart in order to listen to and obey God more closely. Along the way, at perhaps his clearest, most practical best, he also provides the biblical teaching and step-by-step help you need to begin this prayer practice for yourself. The journey into meditative prayer is not easy, but it is essential. And, as Foster shows, it's possible, even in the midst of the noisy, often chaotic world we live in. Your soul can become a sanctuary where you fellowship with the very God of the universe, who knows you and loves you deeply. These pages point the way.

Author Bio

Richard J. Foster (D.Th.P., Fuller Theological Seminary) is founder of Renovar in Denver, Colorado. He is the author of many books, including which has sold over two million copies worldwide, , and coauthor (with Gayle Beebe) of

Endorsements

"The content of this book, as experienced through his teaching, changed my life thirty years ago, opening me to a real, vibrant relationship with God through silence and listening. Over time this teaching has matured, and is destined to become a classic. If you want to experience an intimate relationship with God, simply read this book and put it into practice. Heaven awaits!" -James Bryan Smith, author of The Good and Beautiful God

"Full of depth and substance, Foster's writing on meditative prayer is a winsome invitation to intimacy with God that engages us at every level of our being." -Ruth Haley Barton, founder, Transforming Center, and author of Sacred Rhythms

"Richard Foster diagnoses this generation's major threat to the mature life in Christ as distraction. In response he does again what he does so well: tunnels to the roots of our deep-rooted ancestors and makes us firsthand participants in the church's practice of a life of meditative prayer." -Eugene H. Peterson, translator of The Message

ChristianBookPreviews.com

Sanctuary of the Soul is published by the Formatio line of InterVarsity Press which is dedicated to producing books promoting spiritual formation and mysticism. The Sanctuary of the Soul adds virtually nothing to Foster's previous works all the way back to his Celebration of Discipline written in 1978. He still draws from the same sources of Roman Catholic, Orthodox, and Quaker mystics: Teresa of Avila (pp. 29, 38, 78-79, 152), St. John of the Cross (p. 81), Thomas Kelly (p. 33), Agnes Sanford (pp. 43, 121, 141), Francis de Sales (p. 38), George Fox (p. 34, 54), Henry Nouwen (pp. 42-43), St. Benedict (p. 46, 90), Thomas Merton (pp. 61, 131, 135), Evelyn Underhill (pp. 62, 105), Mother Teresa (pp. 66, 134), Kierkegaard (pp. 66, 144), Madame Guyon (pp. 73-75), and St. Francis (p. 135).

It is from these "masters of the spiritual life" (p. 36) that Foster draws the spiritual disciplines that he promotes including: visualization (p. 36), icons (pp. 40-42), lectio divina (pp. 46-47), centering down (p. 54), and reciting of the Jesus Prayer (p. 132). Additionally, concerning spiritual warfare, Foster recommends the writing of Agnes Sanford and John Wimber. Foster concludes Sanctuary of the Soul by recommending twelve books to aid in our spiritual journey. Of those twelve, ten are from confirmed mystics and the other two draw partially from the mystics. It is no secret where Foster wants to take his readers.

But it is the discipline of meditation, better known as contemplative prayer, that is the heart of this volume. "It is meditative prayer that ushers us into divine-human fellowship," Foster believes (p. 17, see also pp. 27-28). Meditative prayer, however, is not prayer as defined and demonstrated in Scripture in which the believer communicates with God, "It is the listening side"” (p. 125). Contemplative is not cognitive, rational prayer. Rather it supersedes the senses; it is wholly mystical (p. 38). Lectio divina, or sacred reading of Scripture, applies the same approach to the Bible. Quoting Madame Guyon, "We are not reading the Scripture to gain some understanding but to 'turn your mind from outward things to the deep parts of your being. You are not there to learn or to read, but...to experience the presence of your Lord'" (pp. 73-74).

This goal of meditative prayer is to hear the voice of Jesus not audibly (at least not as a norm), but "an inward whisper, a deep speaking into the heart, an interior knowing" (p. 13). Foster assures us that many characters in the Bible had this experience including Moses and Elijah (p. 18). What Foster and all promoters of mysticism fail to notice is that when biblical characters heard from God or angels they heard an audible voice, not an "inward whisper." For that reason rarely does anyone in the biblical accounts ever question that he was hearing from God. Not so the mystic who must "learn to hear the voice of God" (p. 18). Foster assures us that in time we will be able to distinguish the voice of God from all others, including Satan's and our own. One way to determine this is to remember, "Satan pushes and condemns, God draws and encourages. You can tell the difference" (p. 130). Of course this is a gross over-generalization for we know that it is the Holy Spirit who convicts us of sin and judgment (John 16:8).

The basic steps of meditative prayer are recollection, beholding, and listening (pp. 62-88). Here Foster is following the three-fold road of mysticism, normally termed "purgation, illumination, and union." Foster defines these as follows:

  • Recollection - letting go of all competing distractions, even good ones, until we have become truly present where we are. This can be done by focusing on a name, word, or phrase (pp. 62-70).
  • Beholding the Lord - "An inward steady gaze of the heart upon God, the divine Center - The soul, ushered into the Holy Place, is transfixed by what she sees" (p. 71). During this phase some have experienced intense heat around their hearts (pp. 71-73), others speak in tongues (p. 78).
  • The prayer of listening - it is at this step that God speaks to us and we enjoy His full presence (pp. 80-88). We can learn to discern God's voice by experience (pp. 82-83), but Foster cautions that we can be mistaken about what we hear (p. 84).

Again it is vital to note that Foster is not developing his theology of prayer from scriptural texts but from his own personal experiences and from those he admires. This is highly dangerous and subjective ground and is a far cry from the sure and certain Word of God. - Gary Gilley, www.ChristianBookPreviews.com

Publisher's Weekly

This plainspoken book by bestselling author Foster (Celebration of Discipline) addresses the problem of listening for God (Jesus) in a world of noisy distractions. Dividing his work into three parts, Foster describes how God longs to communicate with each of us, how we can become present and surrendered to God, and how we can cope with common obstacles in our quest for communion with the divine. After each section, Foster recounts a story from his own life to demonstrate how one might practice meditative prayer in a real-world situation. At the end of the book, he answers typical questions about prayer. Foster leans heavily for guidance not only on his Quaker heritage but also on classic Christian mystics, including Brother Lawrence, Teresa of Avila, and Julian of Norwich, and he is not afraid to mention Satanic opposition. His quiet writing style models the listening stillness he wishes to impart. Amid many books on meditative prayer, Foster’s stands out for its clarity, simplicity, and focus. (Sept.)Copyright 2011 Reed Business Information.

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  1. Chicagoland
    Age: 45-54
    Gender: female
    5 Stars Out Of 5
    A must read
    April 5, 2012
    Sheri Cook
    Chicagoland
    Age: 45-54
    Gender: female
    Quality: 5
    Value: 5
    Meets Expectations: 5
    Not only have I already given copies to friends, I have recommended it as a "staff pick" for our church's book sale.
  2. Oak Harbor, WA
    Age: 55-65
    Gender: female
    5 Stars Out Of 5
    very good primer on meditation
    November 4, 2011
    bookwomanjoan
    Oak Harbor, WA
    Age: 55-65
    Gender: female
    Quality: 5
    Value: 5
    Meets Expectations: 5
    Foster heard Jesus speak to him, in his inner being, when he was in college. Part of the message was, "With me is ultimate and complete satisfaction." (12) In this book he explores what it means to hear the divine whisper, what we should expect, what should be the conditions of our heart and mind, and how we can develop an inward, prayer-filled listening.

    "Oh, let me tell you how much God desires our presence. How much God longs to hear from us. How much God yearns to communicate with us." (15) Foster reviews the importance of meditation. Unlike other religions, Christian meditation involves hearing and obeying.

    "In meditative prayer we are creating the emotional and spiritual space that allows God to construct an inner sanctuary in the heart." (26) That requires transformation of the human heart - by God.

    At first our prayers will be halting and uneasy. Foster suggests we are always asking (to be changed), always listening (for the still, small Voice), always obeying (the Spirit and Scripture). We will be drawn into a "habitual orientation of our heart toward God." (32) "This is the formation of the heart before God." (32)

    Meditative prayer involves both the mind and the heart. He writes about the role of lectio divina and experiencing worship in community. He shares his own experience of Quaker worship.

    After laying the foundation, Foster gives insight into the steps of meditation. There is the process of recollection (becoming more fully present, surrendering), beholding the Lord (the inward steady gaze of the heart upon God), and the prayer of listening (spirit alert, discerning the voice of God - quality, spirit, content).

    "Distraction is the primary spiritual problem in our day." (102) Learning single-hearted concentration takes time. Keeping a "to-do" pad handy may help curb thoughts vying for attention. You might want to practice a Sabbath time free from electronic media. Foster suggests the reading of selective poetry to help focus the wandering mind (he explains why).

    Foster addresses demonic forces and the life of prayer. He answers frequently asked questions with practical answers.

    Has Foster achieved all he writes about? No. He admits at one point, "I don't know about you, but all this lofty talk leaves me a little breathless. And overwhelmed. I'm just hoping to make it through the week. Perhaps you feel the same." (73) But he encourages us not to despair or give up. He quotes Merton: "You cannot learn meditation from a book. You just have to meditate." (133)
  3. 5 Stars Out Of 5
    September 19, 2011
    elrod
    Quality: 5
    Value: 5
    Meets Expectations: 5
    Fantastic book. One I have a hard time putting down.
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