I heard this tonight at our churchwide prayer event at The Church at Avenue South. It’s not really a blog. It’s an excerpt from Prayer, a book by Richard Foster (who also happened to write a little book you might have heard of called A Celebration of Discipline.
What follows is a bit lengthy but so worth the time it takes to read it:
“And so I am telling you. I am telling you that God is inviting you — God is inviting me — to come home; to come home to where we belong; to come home to that for which we were created. His arms are stretched out wide to receive us. His heart is enlarged to take us in. For too long we have been in a far country — a country of noise and hurry and crowds; a country of climb and push and shove; a country of frustration and fear and intimidation.
And he welcomes us home — home to serenity and peace and joy; home to friendship and fellowship and openness; home to intimacy and acceptance and affirmation.
And we don’t need to be shy. He invites us into the living room of his heart where we can put on old slippers and share freely. He invites us into the kitchen of his friendship where chatter and batter mix in good fun. He invites us into the dining room of his strength where we can feast to our heart’s delight. He invites us into the study of his wisdom where we can learn and grow and stretch and ask all the questions we want. He invites us into the workshop of his creativity where we can be co-laborers with him, working together to determine the outcome of events. And he invites us into the bedroom of his rest where new peace is found, and where we can be naked and vulnerable and free. It is also the place of deepest intimacy where we know and are known to the fullest.
The key into this home, which is the heart of God, is prayer. Perhaps you have never prayed before except in anguish or terror. It may be that the only time the divine name has been on your lips is in angry expletives. Never mind. I am here to tell you that the Father’s heart is open wide to you –you are welcome to come in.
Perhaps you do not believe in prayer. You tried to pray before and were profoundly disappointed … and disillusioned. You have little faith, or none. It does not matter. The Father’s heart is open wide to you — you are welcome to come in.
Perhaps you are bruised and broken by the pressures of life. Others have sinned against you and you feel scarred for life. You have old painful memories that have never been healed. You avoid prayer because you feel too distant, too unworthy, too defiled. Don’t despair. The Father’s heart is open wide to you — you are welcome to come in.
Perhaps you have prayed for many years but the words have grown brittle and cold. Little ever seems to happen anymore. God seems remote and inaccessible. Listen to me. The Father’s heart is open wide to you — you are welcome to come in.
Perhaps prayer is the delight of your life. You have lived in God’s love for a long time and can attest to his goodness. But you long for more. More power, more love, more reality in your life. Believe me. The Father’s heart is open wide to you — you too are welcome to come higher up and deeper in.
If the key is prayer, the door is Jesus Christ. Isn’t it good of God to provide us a way into the Father’s house? God knows that we are stiff-necked, hard-hearted, far-off. And so he has provided a means of entrance — Jesus, the Christ, lived, died, and rose from the grave that we might live through him. This is wonderfully good news. No longer do we have to stand outside barred from nearness to God by our sin and rebellion. We may now enter through the door of God’s grace and mercy in Jesus Christ.
Listen to me, Jesus receives you just as you are, and he receives your prayers just as they are. Just like a small child cannot draw a bad picture, a child of God cannot utter a bad prayer.”