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Book Review: Sanctuary of the Soul


I have a lot of books on prayer. Many of them are good, even inspirational (i.e. they move me to action). Most of these books have definitions of prayer, patterns that outline how to pray, and of course, the “end game” or expected outcome of prayer.

Without question, one of today’s clearest voices on the subject of spiritual formation is Richard Foster. There isn’t a book he’s written that I haven’t immediately purchased and read. Foster’s latest book is titled Sanctuary of the Soul: Journey Into Meditative Prayer. According to Foster, meditative prayer is the prayer that seeks first to listen and respond to God’s voice. It is different in that it is strictly God ward in its goal.

As I mentioned above, there are a lot of books on prayer, and the better ones do include a section on the importance of listening to God. After all, everyone knows that communication is a two way street. But Foster’s book strikes me in a different way, because it dispenses with the whole business of the human voice and how to talk to God. Yes, there is a time and place for believers to speak to God in prayer…where the believer can praise God, confess their sins, request their daily bread, and intercede for others. But meditative prayer is intentional to the degree that its sole purpose is to quiet the soul and hear from God.

Foster offers a lot of helpful direction as to what meditative prayer looks like, but two concepts rose to the top. The first is that meditative prayer is developed through practice. If you’re like me, you know what its like to try to quiet your soul before God and to feel immediately overwhelmed with distractions. The discipline of meditating before the Lord and listening to His voice is like a muscle that must be developed. Which leads me to the second concept, that of patience.

Foster freely admits that there are times when meditative prayer yields no epiphany. Those times are still valued moments of time with the Lord. But there are also times when God speaks, and His unmistakable voice brings about life transformation.

If you’re not committed to regular, private prayer, Sanctuary of the Soul is probably not the book for you. At least not now. But if you are committed to regularly spending time with God in prayer you may find Foster’s book a helpful aide to sharpening your ability to listen for and to the voice of God.

Categories : Spiritual Formation

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