Foster on the Eucharist

In the last few weeks I have been slowly and deliberatively reading Richard Foster's wonderful book, Prayer.  I believe Foster to be one of the wisest and most fully "catholic" teachers (because he draws from every stream of the Christian tradition) we have among us today.  I actually saw him speak in person for about 30 minutes at a conference once.

Chapter 10 of this excellent book, called "Sacramental Prayer," is one of the best explanations of the reasons for liturgical prayer and sacramental worship that I've ever read - and all in only 13 pages.  If you attend a Methodist, Anglican, Lutheran or Catholic church and wonder why we use so many "pre-written" prayers or why so many aspects of our service are the same from week to week, this chapter will surely offer you explanation and invite you to new insight.

In reflecting upon the classical ecumenically-received pattern of the "Service of the Table" or "Liturgy of the Altar" as it is found in The Book of Common Prayer and The United Methodist Book of Worship and worship books of numerous churchesthis is what Foster writes about the total liturgical experience of the faithful who come for Holy Communion:

"At the heart of all Christian prayer is the celebration of the Eucharist or Holy Communion.  Nearly every aspect of prayer is caught up in the eucharistic feast: examination, repentance, petition, forgiveness, contemplation, thanksgiving, celebration, and more.  It most perfectly embodies the central core of prayer in that we are full participants in the action, but the grace that comes is all of God.  All of the senses are employed.  We see, we smell, we touch, we taste.  We hear the words of institution: "This is my body...This is my blood."  In short, the Eucharistic Prayer is the most complete prayer we ever make this side of eternity."

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