Prayer: Finding the Heart's True Home
Having not paid much attention to developments in the practice of Christianity in America for many years, I am only now discovering important books that some of you have probably known about for a very long time.
Case in point is Richard Foster's classic book on prayer. Even its 10-year anniversary release was over a decade ago.
Foster is part of the Renovare movement, which focuses on Spiritual Formation. This book is one of its many truly wonderful resources.
Weighing in at 473 pages, in it Foster (a Quaker) writes a chapter on each of the many unique types of prayer.
Can you name them? Prior to reading many books on prayer, in addition to this one, I would've thought there might be a half-dozen distinctive types of prayer.
But no. There are 22 styles of prayer, which Foster writes about in this book. Each one comes straight out of the Bible, which he supports with numerous biblical references.
Over the millennia, various Christian traditions have focused more on some types of prayer than others. For example, Catholics have practiced Ignatian and Benedictine prayer, which Protestants, in general, have not--to their great loss.
All types of prayer are good, to bring us closer to God. Here are the 22 types of prayer, about which Richard Foster writes.
- Simple prayer
- Prayer of the forsaken
- Prayer of complaint (lamentations)
- Prayer of Examen (Ignatian Prayer)
- Prayer of tears
- Prayer of relinquishment
- Formation prayer: This one is Benedictine Prayer. Here's a snippet of what Foster says about it:
“Prayer changes things,” people say. It also changes us. The latter goal is the more imperative. The primary purpose of prayer is to bring us into such a life of communion with the Father that, by the power of the Spirit, we are increasingly conformed to the image of the Son. This process of transformation is the sole focus of Formation Prayer."
He goes into some of the Rules of St. Benedict, or the twelve steps, which include humility; The Little Way; The Communion of Solitude; Peering into the Abyss.
8. Covenant Prayer. A profound interior heart call to a God-intoxicated life.
9.The Prayer of Adoration
10. The Prayer of Rest
11. Sacramental Prayer, (Liturgical prayer)
12. Unceasing Prayer
13. The Prayer of the Heart
14. Meditative Prayer
15. Contemplative Prayer
16. Praying the Ordinary:
"The discovery of God lies in the daily and the ordinary, not in the spectacular and the heroic. If we cannot find God in the routines of home and shop, then we will not find him at all."17. Petitionary Prayer
18. Intercessory Prayer
19, Healing Prayer
20. The Prayer of Suffering
21. Authoritative Prayer
22. Radical Prayer:
"Radical Prayer refuses to let us stay on the fringes of life’s great issues. It dares to believe that things can be different. Its aim is the total transformation of persons, institutions, and societies. Radical Prayer, you see, is prophetic."
This is a wonderful resource on types of prayer that each of us can practice, every day. The goal is not, of course, to check off the list and boast about having done them all.
However in trying them all, we will find some draw us closer to God than others. It's those prayers that will become the most useful to us in our daily walk.