Streams of Living Water: Essential Practices from the Six Great Traditions of Christian Faith

Streams of Living Water: Essential Practices from the Six Great Traditions of Christian Faith

3.8 8
by Richard J. Foster
     
 

View All Available Formats & Editions

The author of the bestselling celebration of discipline explores the great traditions of Christian spirituality and their role in spiritual renewal today.

In this landmark work, Foster examines the "streams of living water" –– the six dimensions of faith and practice that define Christian tradition. He lifts up the enduring character of each

Overview

The author of the bestselling celebration of discipline explores the great traditions of Christian spirituality and their role in spiritual renewal today.

In this landmark work, Foster examines the "streams of living water" –– the six dimensions of faith and practice that define Christian tradition. He lifts up the enduring character of each tradition and shows how a variety of practices, from individual study and retreat to disciplines of service and community, are all essential elements of growth and maturity. Foster examines the unique contributions of each of these traditions and offers as examples the inspiring stories of faithful people whose lives defined each of these "streams."

Editorial Reviews

John Wilson
Foster presents each tradition with great immediacy, showing each as a 'way of life' enacted by particular people in particular times and places. Never have I seen the full dimensions of our faith portrayed so clearly and persuasively.
Christianity Today

Product Details

ISBN-13:
9780060628222
Publisher:
HarperCollins Publishers
Publication date:
11/28/2001
Edition description:
Reprint
Pages:
448
Sales rank:
470,302
Product dimensions:
5.31(w) x 8.00(h) x 1.00(d)

Read an Excerpt

Chapter One

As Jesus walked this earth, living and working among all kinds and classes of people, he gave us the divine paradigm for conjugating all the verbs of our living. Too often in our concern to make doctrinal points we rush to expound upon Jesus' death, and in so doing we neglect Jesus' life. This is a great loss. Attention to Jesus in his living gives us important clues for our living.

Jesus lived in this broken, painful world, learning obedience through the things that he suffered, tempted in all the ways we are, and yet remaining without sin (Heb. 5:8, 4:15). We are, to be sure, reconciled to God by Jesus' death, but even more, we are "saved" by his life (Rom. 5:10)--saved in the sense of entering into his eternal kind of life, not just in some distant heaven but right now in the midst of our broken and sorrowful world. When we carefully consider how Jesus lived while among us in the flesh, we learn how we are to live-truly live-empowered by him who is with us always even to the end of the age. We then begin an intentional imitatio Christi, imitation of Christ, not in some slavish or literal fashion but by catching the spirit and power in which he lived and by learning to walk "in his steps" (I Pet. 2:2 1).

In this sense we can truly speak of the primacy of the Gospels, for in them we see Jesus living and moving among human beings, displaying perfect unity with the will of the Father. And we are taught to do the same, taking on the nature of Christlikeness -sharing Jesus' vision, love, hope, feelings, and habits.

One of the best things we can do for one another, then, is to encourage regular immersion in the Gospel narratives,helping each other understand Jesus' perceptions into life and his counsels for growth and then making constant application to our daily experience. The dimensions of this task are infinite, of course. However, for the sake of our concern here we want to consider how Jesus in his living provides us a clear paradigm for our living, especially as Jesus' living relates to the several streams of devotion that frame the structure of this book.

Let's consider the Contemplative Stream, the prayer-filled life. Nothing is more striking in Jesus' life than his intimacy with the Father. "The Son can do nothing on his own, but only what he sees the Father doing; for whatever the Father does, the Son does likewise" (John 5:19). "1 can do nothing on my own. As I hear, I judge" (John 5:30). "The words that I say to you I do not speak on my own; but the Father who dwells in me does his works" (John 14: 10).

Like a recurring pattern in a quilt, so prayer threads its way through Jesus' life. As Jesus was baptized by John, he "was praying" (Luke 3:2 1). In preparation for the choosing of the Twelve he went up the mountain alone and "spent the night in prayer" (Luke 6:12). After an exhausting evening of healing "many who were sick" and casting out "many demons," Jesus got up early in the morning 11 while it was still very dark ... and went out to a deserted place, and there he prayed" (Mark 1:35). Jesus was "praying alone" when he was prompted to ask his disciples, "Who do you say that I am?" (Luke 9:18-20). When Jesus took Peter, James, and John "up on the mountain to pray," it led to the great transfiguration experience, and Luke notes that the appearance of Jesus' face was changed "while he was praying" (Luke 9:28-29). After the disciples had failed to heal a sick child, Jesus took care of the matter for them, explaining their failure in these words: "This kind can come out only through prayer" (Mark 9:29). Jesus' fiercest anger came when he saw how people had turned the temple, which he said was to be a house of prayer, into a den of robbers (Matt. 21:13). It was after Jesus finished 41 praying in a certain place" that the disciples asked him to teach them to pray (Luke 11:1).

And teach them he did. Not only the now famous Lord's Prayer, which is found here, but teaching layered upon teaching. Jesus taught them to come to God in the most intimate of ways, saying, "Abba, Father" (Mark 14:36). He gave parables about the "need to pray always and not to lose heart" (Luke 18:1). He taught his disciples to pray "in secret," to "pray for those who persecute you," when praying to "forgive, if you have anything against anyone," to "believe that what you say will come to pass," to petition "the Lord of the harvest to send out laborers into his harvest," and much more (Matt. 6:6, 5:44; Mark 11:25, 23; Matt. 9:38).

And the teachings are matched by continual practice, not only of prayer itself but of intense times of solitude. Jesus was led by the Spirit into the wilderness for forty days (Matt. 4: 1). He "withdrew ... to a deserted place by himself' after learning of the beheading of his dear friend and cousin, John the Baptizer (Matt. 14:13). Following the incredible experience of feeding the five thousand, Jesus immediately "went up the mountain by himself to pray" (Matt. 14:23). When the disciples were exhausted from the demands of ministry, Jesus told them, "Come away to a deserted place all by yourselves and rest a while" (Mark 6:31). After Jesus' healing of a leper Luke seems to be describing more of a habitual practice than a single incident when he notes that Jesus "would withdraw to deserted places and pray" (Luke 5:16).

Without question, the most intense and intimate of recorded prayers is Jesus' high priestly prayer in the Upper Room, where he poured out his heart to the Father on behalf of his disciples and "also on behalf of those who will believe in me through their word" (John 17:20). And of course any discussion of Jesus' prayer life and intimacy with the Father must culminate in the holy work of Gethsemane, where Jesus' sweat became like great drops of blood and his anguished words, "Let this cup pass," reached completion with, "Not my will but yours be done" (Luke 22:42).

Jesus, who retreated often into the rugged wilderness, who lived and worked praying, who heard and did only what the Father said and did, shows forth the Contemplative Tradition in its fullness and utter beauty.

If you are anything like me, even this cursory look at Jesus' love and intimacy with the Father stirs within you longings for a deeper, richer, fuller experience of the divine milieu. No doubt you too ache for a steadfast faith, a boundless hope, an undying love. Jesus points the way...

What People are saying about this

Ingrid Trobisch
...a marvel of a book covering two milleniums of Christian experience. With clarity and restraint, Foster invites the reader to draw from his wells of wisdom as he paints in words the portraits of those who have shaped our rich and varied heritage. His broad brush strokes bring to life the streams of living water that for centuries have nourished our souls. Not only that, he generously gives tangible application to our fragmented lives in the here and now.

Meet the Author

Richard J. Foster is the author of several bestselling books, including Celebration of Discipline, Streams of Living Water, Life with God, and Prayer, which was Christianity Today's Book of the Year and the winner of the Gold Medallion Award from the Evangelical Christian Publishers Association. He is the founder of Renovaré, an organization and a movement committed to the renewal of the church of Jesus Christ in all its multifaceted expressions, and the editor of The Life with God Bible.

Customer Reviews

Average Review:

Write a Review

and post it to your social network

     

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

See all customer reviews >

Streams of Living Water: Essential Practices from the Six Great Traditions of Christian Faith 3.7 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 7 reviews.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Anonymous More than 1 year ago