The Whole Prayer Catalog
Prayer: Finding the Heart’s True Home,by Richard J. Foster (HarperSan-Francisco, 256 pp; $17.00, hardcover). Reviewed by Timothy Tones.

According to historian Martin Marty, the remarkable rise of interest in spirituality is an “event of our era.” Small, congregational prayer groups are flourishing. Even a casual look at religious and secular publishers’ booklists show that spirituality promises to be a buzz word for the nineties.

While the appearance of marginally Christian “spiritualities” makes the wave of interest a mixed blessing, many evangelicals have recognized that they, too, are spiritually thirsty. In 1978, Richard Foster’s Celebration of Discipline spawned something of a revival in the use of spiritual disciplines among evangelicals. Now Foster is back, again pioneering the way for us to learn from our forebears about the most basic of Christian disciplines—prayer.

Prayer, Foster confesses in the preface, was a long time coming. To write a comprehensive book on praying any sooner, he felt, would have been ‘to commit the sin of presumption.” While claiming to be a “novice” on the subject, Foster now feels the “divine nod of approval.”

An Encyclopedic Survey

Foster disclaims that this is a book about mere methods and techniques, saying instead that it is about “an enduring, continuing, growing love relationship with the great God of the universe.” But the accent throughout is on cataloguing the many-splendored repertoire of prayers available to the believer. Twenty-one chapters, each focused on a different aspect or way of praying, constitute Foster’s encyclopedic survey.

There is, for example, “simple prayer,” which “involves ordinary people bringing ordinary concerns to a loving and compassionate ...

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