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Sanctuary of the Soul: Journey into Meditative Prayer Hardcover – September 8, 2011

4.6 out of 5 stars 46 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews


"This is a very useful guide that should be beneficial to those new to the practice as well as those who are familiar with this approach to prayer. . . . His passion for this practice, and for the teachers who have shared their experiential wisdom, makes this a highly enjoyable read." (Lisa Rand, Friends Journal, August 2012)

"One can pick up books on prayer at the local supermarket that promise a richer, deeper and more spiritual life - all in 29 days! They are all bogus, along with many other popular books on prayer. Leave them on the shelves and read this one." (Roy W. Howard, Presbyterian Outlook, January 9, 2012)

"You can only read so much elegant prose inviting you to pray before you feel guilty for not actually praying. Richard Foster notes this difficulty, quoting Thomas Merton: 'You cannot learn meditation from a book. You just have to meditate.' True enough, but good books help, and Sanctuary of the Soul is a good one." (Jason Byassee, Books & Culture, January/February 2012)

"This book demonstrates why meditative prayer is one of the church's most precious assets in this moment of widespread distraction." (Just Between Us, Winter 2011)

"[Foster's] 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." (Publisher's Weekly, August 8, 2011)

"Foster's writing is lyrical, his advice sensible, his encouragement profound as he urges Christians to tap into the 'listening side' of the 'interactive communication that transpires between God and ourselves.' Those who follow Jesus can only benefit from Foster's newest book." (Ann E. Byle, Christian Retailing, September 2011)

"This is Richard Foster at his best--describing the inner life with clarity and wisdom gained from his own experience. 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, 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)

About the Author

Richard J. Foster (D.Th.P., Fuller Theological Seminary) is founder of Renovaré in Denver, Colorado. He is the author of many books, including Celebration of Discipline: The Path to Spiritual Growth, which has sold over two million copies worldwide, Prayer: Finding the Heart's True Home, Freedom of Simplicity: Finding Harmony in a Complex World, and coauthor (with Gayle Beebe) of Longing for God: Seven Paths of Christian Devotion.

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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 165 pages
  • Publisher: IVP Books; unknown edition (September 8, 2011)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0830835555
  • ISBN-13: 978-0830835553
  • Product Dimensions: 5 x 0.7 x 7 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.6 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.6 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (46 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #262,235 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

By jdb VINE VOICE on September 12, 2011
Format: Hardcover
Sanctuary of the Soul: Journey into Meditative Prayer

"Tell my people, tell my children, that my heart is broken. Their distance and their preoccupation wound me... Tell them. Tell my children to come home." (Richard Foster; Sanctuary of the Soul. pg150)

I think this, arguably, might be the heart and soul of this book; a call to slowing down and lessening the distance between ourselves and our Father, God.

I love the pace and the tone that Richard Foster shares this journey into meditative prayer. From the very opening pages of the book, Foster shares with gentleness, humility, and the patience of a wizened teacher the lessons he has learned during his years of study and experience in the discipline of meditative prayer.

The book is divided into three main sections: Part One, Laying the Foundation; Part Two, Stepping into Meditative Prayer; and Part Three, Dealing with Everyday Distractions. Each section is comprised of three chapters with an average length of nine pages. The book is a relatively quick read and moves along at an engaging pace. I didn't have any difficulty following the flow of the book at all, but I do have a somewhat studied background on the topic of meditative (aka "centering" and "contemplative") prayer and I am familiar with most of the sources cited by Foster in Sanctuary. I took note that it seemed as though special attention was given to avoiding esoteric terms that might be unfamiliar to a broad audience. I think this is important to making a book of this nature accessible to the masses and I think this is exactly what Sanctuary of the Soul is... accessible, readable, and understandable regardless of where a person may be with respect to their spiritual journey and maturity therein.
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Format: Hardcover
In 1 Kings 19, the prophet Elijah flees from Queen Jezebel, who has commanded that Elijah be killed to avenge the humiliation of the prophets of Baal at Mount Carmel. Elijah fears for his life, but is met by God and equipped for a journey to Mount Horeb, where God will reaffirm Elijah's prophetic calling, provide him with hope, and teach him to listen.

After arriving at the mountain, you will recall that Elijah witnesses a great wind, a mighty earthquake, and a consuming fire, but the Lord is not found in these displays. It is not until Elijah hears the sound of sheer silence that he comes to a knowledge of God's presence. Only then is he prepared to listen.

Richard Foster, in Sanctuary of the Soul: Journey into Meditative Prayer, encourages his readers to enter the silence, to quiet the soul, and to assume a posture of attentiveness. Foster's writings have consistently named our greatest spiritual problem as distraction, and through this small book, he shares wisdom with his readers and helps them to learn the fine art of listening to and abiding with God.

Foster's work is structured according to three primary themes: foundational concerns, the practice of meditative prayer, and assistance in resolving everyday problems. Prayer is challenging for many people, and the notion that we might enter in to an extended period of solitude, silence, or attentive listening as an act of prayer may seem foreign. Oftentimes, we are accustomed to tailoring our prayers according to our wants and needs, rather than engaging with God as a willing recipient of grace, wisdom, and guidance.

First, Foster begins with foundational matters. The book opens with a simple affirmation:

"Jesus Christ is alive and here to teach his people himself.
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Format: Hardcover
What a wonderful guide to meditative prayer, rich in scriptural reference, deep in exploration into spiritual classics, and personal in touching the heart of spiritual formation. In my estimation this book is a spiritual classic in the making. The words lift off the page and move one into the very heart of meditative prayer and to the heart of God. It can be read for instruction but also to move into the journey of meditation.

Richard Foster gives very helpful steps into the heart of prayer. In a real sense this is spiritual guidance at its best, providing a format that draws us into the very presence of God. The opening part of moving from the mind into the heart is a beautiful description of creating a space for God and entering into the inner sanctuary of the heart. His treatment of sanctifying the imagination and spiritual reading of scripture, lectio divina, is extremely well done, allowing the meaning of the text to flow into us and giving a personal word for our life.

Richard Foster gives very helpful instructions on meditative prayer, first in recollection, which includes glad surrender, repentance and confession, and accepting the ways of God. The second part on "Beholding the Lord" is particularly striking in terms of setting the mind on Christ. He calls this holding our heart in God's presence. What nourishing thoughts. The third part of the prayer of listening giving inward attentiveness to divine motions speaks so clearly of what happens in extended prayer discerning the voice of God.

In this book the author tells three moving stories of experiences of meditative prayer where he goes for retreat.
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