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December 31, 2017

Three Classical Practices


This month of blogging has gone by so quickly. What a joy its been to spend time each day in Foster's book letting the Holy Spirit teach me more about prayer. I feel I need to focus more on these different prayers throughout this next year. I may continue to post on some of the remaining chapters throughout January.

Foster shares three classical practices which are "designed to lead us into the Prayer of Rest." The first is solitude. Foster says that "In solitude we voluntarily abstain from our normal patterns of activity and interaction with people for a time in order to discover that our strength and well-being come from God alone." This can be a difficult task for many of us. In our culture, it is difficult for many to sustain themselves without outside stimulus. We are always doing something, entertained by something, checking FB, watching TV, and any number of other things. When everything goes quiet and there is nothing to do, we get very uneasy in the silence and solitude of the moment. This is why its so hard for us to pray, to rest, and to hear from God. I love how Foster describes this discipline as being "gently pressed into the Holy of Holies, were we are sifted in the stillness." I feel that so deeply. I need to expose my heart, mind, and soul to the sifting process of prayer and the work of the Holy Spirit.

The second practice is silencio or the stilling of "creature activities." This is not the silencing of words, but of control of people and situations. Its the ceasing of our striving to make things happen. It can be so hard to rest in a specific situation and not reach out a hand to fix it. This practice teaches us that we don't just rest anxiously, but we wait on the Word of the Lord. We rest in a his voice, we rest in a place of trust and a relational familiarity with who God is and what he's done for us. We have a tendency to rush into situations. Start practicing a holy hesitation. This is a moment where you pause and wait on the Lord to speak first, to give you direction and a word before you jump into something. This is how we develop a lifestyle of resting in the Lord.

The third practice is that of recollection. Foster says that recollection simply means "focus." Again, this is something that must be cultivated in us. In this time of focus we examine the direction of our lives. We seek further clarification of who we are and what our purpose is. Its a good practice to take a private retreat to do this. Foster recommends at least a 24 hour retreat four times a year with the seasons. The only way for us to really learn this prayer of rest is to practice resting in the Lord. He will be faithful to teach us how to find rest in himself.