Richard Foster on Spiritual Practice

This weekend I took some time to listen to Shane Blackshear’s interview with Richard Foster.

I don’t know blogger and podcast host Shane Blackshear personally, but like him and many others, I too have learned a lot from Richard Foster’s Celebration of Discipline and Prayer: Finding the Heart’s True Home, and highly recommend these and his other writings.

The first few minutes of the recording are devoted to introduction, but just be patient as the interview gets underway and gets better as it unfolds.

Some of my favourite parts come after the 20-minute mark. Like Foster’s advice on developing spiritual discipline: “don’t be heroic about it” but simply “pray as you can.” Instead of trying to do too much and getting “spiritual indigestion,” know the “cosmic patience of God.”

He also explains why he has chosen not to engage with most of social media:

Our biggest problem is distraction. People don’t quite understand that, but it’s the spiritual problem. And when we send out 150 tweets every hour and a half just to fill our own ego . . . why in the world do people want to know what I eat for breakfast? It doesn’t help them, and the way I can help is just to disappear. You see, the early Christians valued anonymity. How many value that today?

Shane Blackshear: “Well, we all want to be famous you know.”

< laughter >

Richard Foster: And that’s one of the things we have to kill, we just have to destroy in our lives. Think of this wonderful book–The Cloud of Unknowing–that has been so instrumental all through the centuries. We don’t even know the author. And that was intentional. . . . The author made a point . . . he intentionally hid it from folks. Wow, think of an author doing that!

There’s a lot more to think about in this interview. Thank you, Shane Blackshear, for sharing this “bucket interview,” and thank you, Richard Foster, for turning me and many to Jesus.

Listen to the whole interview yourself here.



Categories: Social Media, Spiritual Practice

8 replies

  1. Hey April, your link to the cloud of unknowing is dead. Thanks for the review.

  2. Thanks for letting me know – it’s fixed now.

  3. Hi April, I also like Richard Foster. I ‘ve only read Celebration of Discipline. It ‘s a great book. The nice thing about this book is that Richard gives us a realistic description and goals about praying, fasting, etc. I liked what you said about social media. This is so true. I post some stuff here and there but I don’t like when people talk about what they eat, watch, every single second. There is no need….agreed.

  4. For now I’m happy to engage in social media and can appreciate it as a form of community building, but I also regularly “disappear” for a social media sabbath Saturday 6pm-Sunday 6pm which is a good rhythm for me.

  5. I spent a wonderful year at Valparaiso University deepening both my understanding of community and silence. I read the Cloud of Unknowing that year. It has lingered long in my mind. I like your idea of a social media sabbath. I am finding my own way to do this. Thanks for another inspiring post.

  6. Thanks Shirley – the social media sabbath feels refreshing and freeing for me, especially since I don’t feel the need to catch up with everything that’s been posted, facebooked, tweeted, etc. in my absence. At first I had the nagging sense that I was missing something, but I’m able to let that go now. As limited human beings, we’re always missing something somewhere whether online or in real life.

  7. Thanks for the link to this interview, April. I listened to it yesterday. I have gained so much from RF’s books over the years but had never heard his voice. So that was a privilege. His challenge re. social media, even if we choose a different path than his, is very relevant, the reality of the much noise from all quarters, including the church. So just to say Thanks.

  8. You’re welcome – I’d never heard his voice before either. I wonder if that’s another way that he (at least for the most part) chooses to disappear.