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Spiritual Disciplines for the Christian Life

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Drawn from a rich heritage, "Spiritual Disciplines for the Christian Life" will guide you through a carefully selected array of disciplines, including: Scripture reading Prayer Worship Scripture meditation Evangelism Serving Stewardship of time and money Scripture application Fasting Silence and solitude Journaling Learning By illustrating why the disciplines are important, showing how Drawn from a rich heritage, "Spiritual Disciplines for the Christian Life" will guide you through a carefully selected array of disciplines, including: Scripture reading Prayer Worship Scripture meditation Evangelism Serving Stewardship of time and money Scripture application Fasting Silence and solitude Journaling Learning By illustrating why the disciplines are important, showing how each one will help you grow in godliness, and offering practical suggestions for cultivating them, "Spiritual Disciplines for the Christian Life" will provide you with a refreshing opportunity to become more like Christ and grow in character and maturity.


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Drawn from a rich heritage, "Spiritual Disciplines for the Christian Life" will guide you through a carefully selected array of disciplines, including: Scripture reading Prayer Worship Scripture meditation Evangelism Serving Stewardship of time and money Scripture application Fasting Silence and solitude Journaling Learning By illustrating why the disciplines are important, showing how Drawn from a rich heritage, "Spiritual Disciplines for the Christian Life" will guide you through a carefully selected array of disciplines, including: Scripture reading Prayer Worship Scripture meditation Evangelism Serving Stewardship of time and money Scripture application Fasting Silence and solitude Journaling Learning By illustrating why the disciplines are important, showing how each one will help you grow in godliness, and offering practical suggestions for cultivating them, "Spiritual Disciplines for the Christian Life" will provide you with a refreshing opportunity to become more like Christ and grow in character and maturity.

30 review for Spiritual Disciplines for the Christian Life

  1. 4 out of 5

    Barry

    It wasn't until I read Richard Foster's Celebration of Discipline that I could put my finger on my vague dislike of this book: whereas Mr. Foster's book is filled with disciplines and they all feel do-able, Mr. Whitney's book is filled with disciplines that feel out of reach. As I calculated the time commitment that Mr. Whitney recommends, it would easily take hours every day to do the disciplines he suggests. That would be a great thing, to have the freedom and flexibility to spend hours everyd It wasn't until I read Richard Foster's Celebration of Discipline that I could put my finger on my vague dislike of this book: whereas Mr. Foster's book is filled with disciplines and they all feel do-able, Mr. Whitney's book is filled with disciplines that feel out of reach. As I calculated the time commitment that Mr. Whitney recommends, it would easily take hours every day to do the disciplines he suggests. That would be a great thing, to have the freedom and flexibility to spend hours everyday praying, reading the Bible, meditating on what we read, studying, journaling, being silent before the Lord, going on meditative walks, fasting, and serving others, but realistically, it's not going to happen for 99% of the people reading this book. Or more. The strength of this book is the description of the spiritual disciplines, plus the practical tips and suggestions for how to implement the disciplines and apply them to our lives. Mr. Whitney has written a detailed book filled with 'all you need to know' about spiritual practices and disciplines, and for that he earns high marks. But in hindsight, I could never shake a vague sense of finger-shaking knowing that I will never be able to accomplish a fraction of what is suggested (and inferred that I must practice if I really want to know God and be obedient to Him).

  2. 4 out of 5

    Philip Mcduffie

    Christ centered. Biblically saturated. Powerfully convicting. Read this book!

  3. 4 out of 5

    Mark

    This is a great book for all believers at any stage of their life. Lots of helpful advice. I will be referring back to this one quite a bit.

  4. 4 out of 5

    Jeice

    This book is a decent introduction to some spiritual practices to help Christians grow in godliness, but it feels incomplete. Donald Whitney chose to focus this book on the "personal" disciplines alone, meaning that there are some core disciplines that are glossed over such as fellowship and confession, as well as dimensions of disciplines like prayer that are unnecessarily limited in the exploration. There also is a plethora of unhelpful examples. In multiple places paragons of a certain virtue This book is a decent introduction to some spiritual practices to help Christians grow in godliness, but it feels incomplete. Donald Whitney chose to focus this book on the "personal" disciplines alone, meaning that there are some core disciplines that are glossed over such as fellowship and confession, as well as dimensions of disciplines like prayer that are unnecessarily limited in the exploration. There also is a plethora of unhelpful examples. In multiple places paragons of a certain virtue were lifted up as heroes and had their stories followed with a sentiment of, "See? If they can do it, so can you!" One such instance happens early on. On page 30, in talking about reading the Bible, Whitney says, "We should all have the following man's passion for reading God's word..." and then proceeds to tell a story about a man who had his face and hands blown off in an explosion who learned to read the Bible with his tongue and had since read through the entire Bible at least four times. "If he can do that, can you discipline yourself to read the Bible?" (31) While I am quite impressed at the passion and dedication of that man, it offers no advice or guidance on how to stir up my own passion for the Bible, no help on what to do if I lack that man's passion, and does not stir me to any action or emotion except possibly a sensation that I should perhaps feel guilty that I probably don't have that level of determination, which is muted by the fact that I feel I should definitely feel guilty that I spent the entire story sighing and rolling my eyes because I rarely feel motivated by cries of "Look at how well that person's doing, you should be more like them!" Besides that manner of annoyance, I feel like the book is a worthwhile read. There is a decent amount of scripture quoted as the basis and instruction behind the disciplines, which is always important to me. It offers some good insights and quotes about spiritual disciplines, and in certain chapters there are quite a few practical tools offered to help readers get started. For instance, the chapter on meditation offers no fewer than 17 different methods to meditate on scripture! There are certainly chapters that are weaker than others, though that is possibly because I have already read Richard Foster's Celebration of Discipline and it covers much of the same material. I appreciate that Whitney took the time to remind and re-emphasize the gospel and its impact on our pursuit of the disciplines several times throughout the book. There were times when it seemed like the natural progression of his thoughts in the chapter, and there were times when it felt disjointed, like it was added in a later edition to address complaints. The former felt genuine and really served to draw out the grace on which we rely, while the latter felt awkward and forced, and thus seemed to be muted in its presentation and power. In both cases, however, it is the gospel, which is the power of salvation for all who believe, and that is enough. I don't think this book needed a catch phrase. Or at least, if Whitney was to insist on a catch phrase he could have either chosen a better one or better explained the catch phrase he chose and how it frames the pursuit of God through the disciplines. I'm not entirely sure I agree with his description of what "godliness" is and how all the disciplines are "for the purpose of godliness" because after the first chapter or so he assumes it is clear and never goes into depth into how pursuing this or that discipline leads to godliness in the way he describes godliness. In all honesty, the main reason I'm not entirely sure I agree is that I don't entirely remember what was said. I even just now skimmed the section where I thought he clarified and am still coming up empty. So I will stick with my conclusion that merely saying "[Insert Discipline Here]...for the Purpose of Godliness" is not as helpful as he appears to have believed. All my gripes and nitpicks aside, this book is definitely worth your time. The fact that I didn't enjoy it as much as I have enjoyed other spiritual books does not diminish the fact that this book was helpful to guide me in living like Jesus and had a positive impact on my life. If you haven't already, I encourage you to read this book...for the purpose of godliness.

  5. 5 out of 5

    Bambi Moore

    Also read this in 2007. Extremely helpful book with the foundation being 1 Timothy 4:7, "Discipline yourself for the purpose of godliness." Each chapter gives an explanation and Biblical basis for spiritual disciplines such as Bible intake, prayer, meditation, memorization, worship, solitude, journaling (a favorite!), fasting and more. In a generation that thinks discipline is a dirty word and automatically equates "work" to legalism, Don Whitney shows us that the spiritual disciplines are the w Also read this in 2007. Extremely helpful book with the foundation being 1 Timothy 4:7, "Discipline yourself for the purpose of godliness." Each chapter gives an explanation and Biblical basis for spiritual disciplines such as Bible intake, prayer, meditation, memorization, worship, solitude, journaling (a favorite!), fasting and more. In a generation that thinks discipline is a dirty word and automatically equates "work" to legalism, Don Whitney shows us that the spiritual disciplines are the way to spiritual liberty, not bondage. We *must* be a people of discipline because the natural man will never drift forward in love and holiness to the Lord. Only by intentional discipline will we move forward. But advancement in the Christian life comes not by our labor in it alone, nor the Holy Spirit alone, but by our responding to and cooperation with the grace of God that He alone initiates and sustains. I felt this book was thorough in it's coverage of motivations behind the disciplines. It did not leave me feeling a weight of bondage, but of great liberty and hope and greater zeal for the Word. I appreciate that Whitney even specifically mentions a few times the busyness of mothers of little ones, yet with much gentleness He points out that life will never be *not* busy, and these habits are to be pursued regardless of age and stage of life. Great quotes from Jonathan Edwards, George Whitfield, David Brainerd, and others. (I am glad to see there is now an updated version of this book. as I think the one I read might be distracting to younger people, with the occasional mentions of "portable stereos" and cassette tapes :)) "How often do we hear about the discipline of the Christian life these days? How often do we talk about it? How often is it really to be found at the heart of our evangelical living? There was a time in the Christian church when this was at the very centre, and it is, I profoundly believe, because of our neglect of this discipline that the church is in her present position. Indeed, I see no hope whatsoever of any true revival and reawakening until we return to it."--Martin Lloyd Jones

  6. 4 out of 5

    Stacia

    5/08 This is a very good book. Donald Whitney is a good writer and really help brings to mind spiritual disciplines that one might not have thought of as is. However, I do think that this is a book that is better as a reference than a sit down and read it all. I think the best way to approach the book is read about a discipline and really put it into practice and make it a habit, and then read/learn about another discipline. If you try to do it all at once its overwhelming and not helpful. 1/11 5/08 This is a very good book. Donald Whitney is a good writer and really help brings to mind spiritual disciplines that one might not have thought of as is. However, I do think that this is a book that is better as a reference than a sit down and read it all. I think the best way to approach the book is read about a discipline and really put it into practice and make it a habit, and then read/learn about another discipline. If you try to do it all at once its overwhelming and not helpful. 1/11 Read this book again through church. It's always hard for me to read the same book twice. However, it is still super convicting. And an encouragement to improve upon my spiritual disciplines.

  7. 4 out of 5

    Jaimie

    One of my top must-read books. Over the week that I read this book I tried to apply the advice, attempting to practice the spiritual disciplines of Bible Intake, Prayer, Worship, Evangelism, Service, etc. as I came across them. I think I may have had more spiritual growth in a week than I've ever had in any season as a Christian for 30 years. I can see now that on the learning curve of spiritual life, I'm barely off the starting mark. It's one thing to have God's Word, it's quite another to obey One of my top must-read books. Over the week that I read this book I tried to apply the advice, attempting to practice the spiritual disciplines of Bible Intake, Prayer, Worship, Evangelism, Service, etc. as I came across them. I think I may have had more spiritual growth in a week than I've ever had in any season as a Christian for 30 years. I can see now that on the learning curve of spiritual life, I'm barely off the starting mark. It's one thing to have God's Word, it's quite another to obey it! And how does a person put such a large thing as 'God's Word' into practice? Although not 'easy', there are surprisingly simple, practical ways to do it, with many of them conveniently collected together here in this book. At the end I found myself asking, "Why was I never taught this by other Christians before?" and vowing to pass some of these tips on whenever I can! Quotes from the book: "To do what God wants most, that is, to love Him with all your heart, soul, mind, and strength, and to love your neighbor as you love yourself (Mark 12:29-31), can't be done in your spare time." "Hearing and reading the Bible is the exposure to Scripture - that's needful, but it's only the starting place. After the exposure to Scripture we need to absorb it. Meditation is the absorption of Scripture. And it's the absorption of Scripture that leads to the experience with God and the transformation of life we long for when we come to the Bible." "The heart is warmed by meditation, and cold truth is melted into passionate action." "Where God leads you to pray, he means you to receive." (C.H. Spurgeon quote) "So if there's little revelation of God, there is little focus on God. And if there is little focus on God, there is little worship of God. Conversely, much revelation of God fosters much focus on God, which in turn evokes much worship of God." "The gospel of Jesus Christ transforms sinners against God into servants of God." "Regardless of when or how death occurs, there is a specific day on the calendar when all my preparation for eternity will indeed be over. And since that day could be any day, I should use my time wisely, for it's all the time I have to prepare for where I will endlessly live beyond the grave. [...] As a relatively small rudder determines the direction of a great ocean liner, so that which we do in the small span of time influences all eternity." "Those who eat too much and those who intentionally eat too little are looking for satisfaction in something other than God." "Put directly, as each believer disciplines himself "for the purpose of godliness," his or her individual spiritual growth helps to build up the local body of believers - but only insofar as that believer is in fellowship with them." I thought these were excellent quotes! But, if you want the specifics of what the spiritual disciplines look like, or practical ways to live them out, READ THE BOOK!

  8. 4 out of 5

    Pamela

    I can’t say enough about this book for anyone endeavoring to follow Christ and live a life pleasing to God. This is one of the best books I have ever read on HOW to live the Christian life! The subjects covered include prayer, Bible reading, scripture memory, meditation, fasting, service, giving, worship, and more. The author gives very practical instruction on the why and how of the disciplines, while keeping the focus on one’s personal growth in Christ. It is not theory- it offers practical ap I can’t say enough about this book for anyone endeavoring to follow Christ and live a life pleasing to God. This is one of the best books I have ever read on HOW to live the Christian life! The subjects covered include prayer, Bible reading, scripture memory, meditation, fasting, service, giving, worship, and more. The author gives very practical instruction on the why and how of the disciplines, while keeping the focus on one’s personal growth in Christ. It is not theory- it offers practical application. In addition to strategies to develop the spiritual disciplines, readers also are treated to rich insights, stories and examples from scripture and life that encourage one to embrace the disciplines outlined in scripture. EXCELLENT! I listened to this on Audible but now will purchase a hard copy for my library!

  9. 5 out of 5

    Caroline Gemes

    Learned so much from this book and is super foundational and transformative whether you are a new believer or have been walking with God for years. Great reminders and was spurred on.

  10. 4 out of 5

    Todd Wilhelm

    “Then you read this book, which encourages you to practice all these Spiritual Disciplines. And it makes you feel like a tired, staggering juggler on a highwire, trying to keep a dozen eggs in the air with someone else wanting to throw you a half dozen more.” page 236 Exactly how I felt after reading this book! Much of what was written was basic Christianity 101 - read your bible. pray, etc. It never hurts to review though, and it helped challenge me to renew my efforts and not become slothful. I “Then you read this book, which encourages you to practice all these Spiritual Disciplines. And it makes you feel like a tired, staggering juggler on a highwire, trying to keep a dozen eggs in the air with someone else wanting to throw you a half dozen more.” page 236 Exactly how I felt after reading this book! Much of what was written was basic Christianity 101 - read your bible. pray, etc. It never hurts to review though, and it helped challenge me to renew my efforts and not become slothful. I especially liked chapter 12 which dealt with gaining knowledge and reading, a subject dear to my heart. Whitney was careful to balance the necessity of head knowledge with heart zeal. “According to a book of the Bible written specifically to give us wisdom, one of the characteristics of a wise man or woman is a desire for learning. We read in Proverbs 9:9, “Instruct a wise man and he will be wiser still; teach a righteous man and he will add to his learning.” Wise and righteous people can never get enough wisdom or knowledge. Those unteachable or prideful about their learning only reveal how shallow they really are. There is humility with the truly wise because they know there is so much they have yet to learn. This verse says that wise and righteous people are teachable. They can learn from anybody, regardless of age. Give one of them instruction and “he will be wiser still and he will add to his learning.” Those who are wise are always looking to learn. In Proverbs 10:14 we're told, “Wise men store up knowledge.” The Hebrew word here means to store up like a treasure. Wise men and women love to learn because they realize that knowledge is like a precious treasure. Notice Proverbs 18:15: “The heart of the discerning acquires knowledge; the ears of the wise seek it out.” Wise people not only acquire” knowledge, they “seek” it. They desire to learn and discipline themselves to seek opportunities to learn. One other verse in Proverbs deserves our attention. In 23:12 we're commanded, “Apply your heart to instruction and your ears to words of knowledge.” No matter how much you know, especially about God, Christ, the Bible, and the Christian life, you still need to apply your heart to learn, for you haven't learned it all. And no matter how intelligent or slow you may think you are, according to this verse you are to diligently apply your heart and ears to learn. Learning is a lifelong Discipline, a Spiritual Discipline that characterizes the wise person. Samuel Hopkins, one of the early biographers of Jonathan Edwards, said that when he met Edwards he was impressed by the fact that a man already twenty years in the ministry had still “an uncommon thirst for knowledge . . . he read all the books, especially books of divinity, that he could come at.” Edwards had an undeniably superior mind, but he never stopped applying it to learn. It was that, blended with an equally strong devotional zeal, that made him wise and great in the Kingdom of God. A durable yearning for learning characterizes all those who are truly wise. There is an intellectualism that is wrong, but it is also wrong to be anti-intellectual. We are to love God just as much with our mind as with our heart and soul and strength. How can it all fit together? As contemporary Christian thinker R. C. Sproul wrote, “God has made us with a harmony of heart and head, of thought and action. . . . The more we know Him the more we are able to love Him. The more we love Him the more we seek to know Him. To be central in our hearts He must be foremost in our minds. Religious thought is the prerequisite to religious affection and obedient action.” Unless we love God with a growing mind, we will be like Christian versions of the Samaritans to whom Jesus said, “You Samaritans worship what you do not know” (John 4:22). The late London preacher Martyn Lloyd-Jones reminded us, “Let us never forget that the message of the Bible is addressed primarily to the mind, to the understanding.” No one is changed by an unread Bible. No one grows into a Godliness he or she knows nothing about. The Word of God must go through our head if it's going to change our heart and our life. The absence of the Discipline of learning explains why many professing believers seem to grow so little in Godliness. Richard Foster makes the same point, referring to learning as the Discipline of study. Many Christians remain in bondage to fears and anxieties simply because they do not avail themselves of the Discipline of study. They may be faithful in church attendance and earnest in fulfilling their religious duties and still they are not changed. I am not here speaking only of those who are going through mere religious forms, but of those who are genuinely seeking to worship and obey Jesus Christ as Lord and Master. They may sing with gusto, pray in the Spirit, live as obediently as they know how, . . . and yet the tenor of their lives remains unchanged. Why? Because they have never taken up one of the central ways God uses to change us: study. Besides more conformity to the world and a lack of growth in Godliness, those who are not disciplined learners have little spiritual discernment and become prime targets for the cults, New Age influence, and other false prophets. The Bible tells us to be like Christ, but it also warns us not to be foolish, untaught, naive, or ignorant. Taken together these two strands of truth tell us we must learn to be like Jesus.” pages 224-226, 228

  11. 5 out of 5

    Michael

    Christian, take the time and read this book. You will benefit from it.

  12. 5 out of 5

    Collin Scribner

    A must read for every Christian! I’ll definitely be revisiting this time and time again.

  13. 4 out of 5

    Kells Next Read

    A definite re-read.

  14. 4 out of 5

    Kevin Halloran

    A book that equips a believer in the spiritual disciplines and encourages one to pursue them diligently. I especially valued the portion on Scripture meditation and fasting, and will probably revisit this book (or portions of it) fairly regularly.

  15. 4 out of 5

    David J. Harris

    Donald Whitney’s book on the spiritual disciplines is the author’s attempt to chart a modern map for an ancient destination. With an introduction to the disciplines as rules to pursue godliness, Whitney spends the first third of the book on the anchor practices of Bible intake and prayer output, basing the rest of these explorations on the foundational habits of listening to God and answering back. What follows are practices that act as a kind of series of next steps in the life of the Christian Donald Whitney’s book on the spiritual disciplines is the author’s attempt to chart a modern map for an ancient destination. With an introduction to the disciplines as rules to pursue godliness, Whitney spends the first third of the book on the anchor practices of Bible intake and prayer output, basing the rest of these explorations on the foundational habits of listening to God and answering back. What follows are practices that act as a kind of series of next steps in the life of the Christian who practices the disciplines: inwardly-oriented disciplines like worshipping, fasting, journaling, silence and learning, and what Whitney sees as the outwardly-inclined disciplines like evangelism, service, and giving. What binds these practices together is fleshed out in each of the chapters. The author shows the biblical roots of the practices, often illustrates their practice in church history, and points out how they grow the practitioner into godliness. These three connecting themes of biblical precedent, historian rootedness and the pursuit of holiness draw the diverse habits into a singular but multi-faceted way of life for the Christian. Whitney also closes each chapter with questions to encourage practical application for the reader. Disciplines aims to walk a very narrow line between legalistic guilt-induced behavior and grace-abusing spiritual laziness. All Christians are both saved and being saved. And when it comes to being saved, sanctification is never simply spoken into existence by divine fiat: it is slow and steady, and involves the human will. How young-earth creationists understand the origins of the universe is a perfect metaphor for justification: God speaks, and the whole package is there, clean cut in its finality with no processes involved. But their opponents that envision a creation slowly and perhaps messily forming - God using secondary means to accomplish his will over time - provide a much better picture of sanctification. The ditches of emphasizing justification at the expense of sanctification, or emphasizing the latter at the expense of the former are wide indeed: many have fallen in - unsuspecting victims of a one-sided understanding of what being Christian means. Whitney’s Spiritual Disciplines manages to stay right on track with impressive skill. The book is full of grace and yet full of rules for Christian growth. Growth in godliness is the goal, but that growth, empowered by the grace of God is fleshed out in the holy habits prescribed and brought to life again in this work.

  16. 4 out of 5

    Becky

    I think it would have been maybe helpful if the last chapter on "Perseverance in the Disciplines" was actually the first chapter. Of course, I only say that now after having read it at the end. It was helpful there too. Maybe have it at the beginning, and go back after the end of the book and read it again. :) It's easy to start this book and go really slowly or stop or get discouraged because you have SO MUCH to learn and improve on. Especially since the first 3-4 chapters are so long and big a I think it would have been maybe helpful if the last chapter on "Perseverance in the Disciplines" was actually the first chapter. Of course, I only say that now after having read it at the end. It was helpful there too. Maybe have it at the beginning, and go back after the end of the book and read it again. :) It's easy to start this book and go really slowly or stop or get discouraged because you have SO MUCH to learn and improve on. Especially since the first 3-4 chapters are so long and big and important. (The final chapter gives helpful words about perseverance; 1. sanctification and "discipline"/self-control are fruits of the spirit. 2. it's important to have Christian fellowship and grow in the disciplines with other believers. (also, the difference between true fellowship and just socializing) and then 3. although the Spirit is the base and foundation of our self-discipline, there is struggle. Paul talks about toiling and striving; it's expected! And it's a good thing. Victory doesn't come without struggle. So I think if that chapter was first, it might help people keep referring to it as they read the rest of the book; not grow quite as overwhelmed thinking that "there's no way I can change all this" and maybe talking with other believers about the struggle and growth and disciplines that we all are called to. Very good though, very convicting; would recommend to everyone, I think, and will probably try to read again in just a few years or less. Or read a chapter a month and try to work on one thing for a while? hm. :) Took me 6 months and a week to read the first time.

  17. 5 out of 5

    Donald Linnemeyer

    This is another one I didn't find all that helpful on the whole. While it has a good amount of helpful, practical tips on things like bible-reading and prayer, in the end the book always left me feeling either bored or guilty, and I’m still sorting through why. There’s a different tone to it – something colder and less impactful than a writer like Foster or Merton – but I’ve had trouble figuring out if it’s a stylistic difference, or if there’s a more substantial difference in how Whitney frames This is another one I didn't find all that helpful on the whole. While it has a good amount of helpful, practical tips on things like bible-reading and prayer, in the end the book always left me feeling either bored or guilty, and I’m still sorting through why. There’s a different tone to it – something colder and less impactful than a writer like Foster or Merton – but I’ve had trouble figuring out if it’s a stylistic difference, or if there’s a more substantial difference in how Whitney frames our relationship with God. Whitney, from the very beginning, is intensely focused on things we’re doing to push forward our sanctification. His book is based around 1 Timothy 4:7 – “Disicipline yourself for the purpose of godliness”, and his chapters are title “X For the Purpose of Godliness” (prayer, bible intake, etc.). He does make all the necessary theological qualifications, that sanctification comes from God and that our salvation is entirely by grace. But the emphasis is thoroughly on our actions, what we can do to attain to godliness. This is also true in how he deals with the disciplines themselves. They come across as things we have to work really hard at, push ourselves to find all the time we can to perform. They’re not a refuge we flee to so we can find peace. Not that he wouldn’t consider them peaceful or a refuge, but that’s not in his tone in how he pushes the reader to do them. There’s a relationship aspect here. Other writers on this topic, I’ve come away from their books encouraged to prayer more, to read the bible more, etc. because I’m excited to spend time with God, because I’m wanting some sort of spiritual rest. It’s more like the way I try to carve out time to spend with Anna. I’m excited to talk to her, to go to dinner with her, not because I’m trying really hard to attain to marital excellence. It’s because I love her, and that time is restful and peaceful. That time is a deliverance from hard work, not more hard work. This works into his concept of freedom, too. Freedom, to Whitney, is found in the disciplines because they give you the freedom to do great things, like practice gives the virtuoso the freedom to lay magnificent music. But what I’ve got in my read from people like Merton is that freedom is found in submission to the will of God. And what he means by submission is really a freeing from sin and the flesh (the false self). Freedom is a laying aside of our selfish ambitions, our pride, our false concepts of what our life should be like. It’s a freedom from sin, and also from death and oppression. We don’t attain to freedom by rigidly disciplining our schedules until they’re completely full of prayer and bible-reading. We attain to freedom by letting go of stresses, worries, pride, and collapsing into the arms of God. This is still a confusing dilemma, though, because Whitney’s point is still helpful. You do have to make time for the disciplines, and that takes, well, discipline. It just doesn't seem like his angle is the proper focal point, the real center of spiritual disciplines. For example, Whitney fights against “spontaneity” as a rejection of spiritual discipline. There’s a good point to this – you shouldn’t not pray because you think real spiritual is exclusively spontaneous. But Whitney’s view of discipline here seems centered around scheduling. Discipline doesn’t seem here just a rejection of sin; it carries connotations of a precisely and rigidly ordered life, an image he even forces onto Christ, who Whitney claims was the “most spiritually disciplined man who ever lived”. I agree, but I don’t think I mean the same thing Whitney does. This sort of thing comes out in how guilt-trippy Whitney is. His book is guilt-laden, and I usually came away from it with some thought along the lines of “I’m not doing enough.” That seems pretty intentional on Whitney’s part. He says things like this: “I’m sure I don’t know a single Christian who would be as evangelistic as they say, ‘I’m as evangelistic as I should be.'” (99) “Men and women of God are always men and women of prayer. My pastoral experience concurs with the words of J. C. Rye: ‘… He quotes J. C. Ryle, saying “I believe that those who are not eminently holy pray little, and those who are eminently holy pray much.'” (82) In other words, “Not praying enough? Not holy enough? Then your pastor thinks you’re not a child of God.” Whitney wouldn’t want the reader to take it that way – he’d want to respond with some gung-ho “time to alter my schedule to pray more!” – but in practice? That’s some thick guilt. From other writers, I feel encouraged. I feel like they’re saying to me, “Struggling with sin – with anger, depression, anxiety, envy, etc.? Take rest in God. Talk to him about it and listen. He’ll free you from those things.” But Whitney? I came away with something more like this: “Struggling with sin? Did you read the Bible today? How much? Only 15 minutes? Tsk… tsk… I bet you could have spent 30 minutes, maybe 45. Jonathan Edwards would have spent an hour. You should be more like Jonathan Edwards.” Whitney does have some good observations, though, for how much I’m hammering him. He has plenty of practical suggestions on prayer and bible reading. There are helpful reminders, like the idea that the flesh loathes serving. When you’re feeling tired in a lazy way, it’s when you’re “tired” of serving and helping. If you're not too tired to help yourself, though, there's probably an element of sloth creeping in. Whitney has a straightforward way of talking that’s great if you’re feeling distracted or legitimately lazy in regards to the disciplines, if you need a push to try them more. But if you're feeling overwhelmed and like you need encouragement, the guilt-tripping is incredibly unhelpful.

  18. 5 out of 5

    Rachelle Cobb

    Nothing like a power outage to motivate me to read away a Monday morning! I highly recommend this book to believers (new and mature) who would like to learn how to deepen their faith. The author writes in a classical style that reminded me of C.S. Lewis. I especially appreciated his emphasis on the spiritual disciplines as tools in the hands of the Holy Spirit to make us more like Christ.

  19. 4 out of 5

    Jennifer

    This was a excellent read! I did a buddy read with my small group and husband and it was very well done.

  20. 4 out of 5

    Daniel Adams

    An excellent overview of the essential Christian disciplines. The way Whitney describes and explains each discipline using analogies, personal stories, and biblical examples is incredibly helpful. One of the best things about the book is it’s accessibility. Whether you are just beginning to study and apply the disciplines or you’ve been doing so for years, Whitney provides helpful tips, encouragement, and exhortation that will inspire you to continue on the path of the disciplined Christian life An excellent overview of the essential Christian disciplines. The way Whitney describes and explains each discipline using analogies, personal stories, and biblical examples is incredibly helpful. One of the best things about the book is it’s accessibility. Whether you are just beginning to study and apply the disciplines or you’ve been doing so for years, Whitney provides helpful tips, encouragement, and exhortation that will inspire you to continue on the path of the disciplined Christian life.

  21. 5 out of 5

    Ben Chapman

    Wonderful, applicable, pointed discipline, for the purpose of godliness. I cannot recommend more.

  22. 4 out of 5

    Jason Rodriguez

    A very encouraging and practical book. Donald Whitney shows why the pursuit of godliness is an important part of the Christian life, and he easily explains the God given means to do this. Whitney gives biblical support for these means, better understood as Spiritual Disciplines, along with examples from his own life. I particularly liked the chapters on fasting and evangelism.

  23. 4 out of 5

    J.K. Turner

    My Rating –Put it on the List Level – Not very readable, seems longer than it is Summary The book is exactly what you think it is based on the title. He jumps straight in with the first chapter explaining what he thinks (based on scripture) the spiritual disciplines are and why they are important. There are 10 disciplines and he devotes two chapters to the first, and then one each to the others - Reading the Bible, Prayer, Worship, Evangelism, Serving, Stewardship, Fasting, Silence and Solitude, Jo My Rating –Put it on the List Level – Not very readable, seems longer than it is Summary The book is exactly what you think it is based on the title. He jumps straight in with the first chapter explaining what he thinks (based on scripture) the spiritual disciplines are and why they are important. There are 10 disciplines and he devotes two chapters to the first, and then one each to the others - Reading the Bible, Prayer, Worship, Evangelism, Serving, Stewardship, Fasting, Silence and Solitude, Journaling, and Learning. He wraps up the book with a chapter on ‘perseverance in the disciplines’ and the importance of making them habits. I assume most are quite familiar with the first five, and likely stewardship as well, however he has a bit of a twist. When most people here that word in context of church, they think money (though, presently, some may start to associate it with the environment), but he talks about time as well. I think this is an interesting point, that I’ve never really heard discussed. Often in the American church it’s about what not to do, as in, avoiding sin, not instead, focused on what to do. Don’t spend your time getting hammered. Makes sense, that’d be a sin. However, what if you spent 12 hours on Saturday watching college football? Not a sin, but…is it really the best use of your time? Are you really being disciplined, are you gaining from that? Obviously, this hit home for me. The others, many people are familiar with, but in the American Evangelical church, things like fasting and solitude sound a little too Catholicy, so I’ve never really heard them taught. I was especially intrigued with fasting. It is abundantly clear in scripture that this is something we ought to do. But, I’ve never in my life done it. I’ll admit, though he says you really aren’t supposed to ever tell, but I tried fasting based on this chapter and bits of Piper’s A Hunger for God, on Fridays during lent. I’ll write more on that later, but the book is probably worth the price just to read that chapter. We get a little silence and solitude, and some journaling in the American church. However, I think journaling is still mostly considered a feminine thing or something for children. The list of men, great Christians giants of the past (as well as statesmen and thinkers) that judiciously journaled was astounding. So, that is something I’ve tried to do as well. The final of the disciplines is learning. I think this is important in our era of anti-intellectualism and poor knowledge of scripture, theology and history. He points out the greatest commandment is “Love the Lord your God …with all your mind” (Mark 12:30). As well as Paul’s command to not be conformed, but transformed by the renewing of your mind. The final chapter, as mentioned above, is focused on encouraging you to stick with the disciplines. They all help to build on each other, and if you are focusing on doing them all, you will start to form habits, which will help you stay disciplined. My Thoughts This book was originally recommended to me by a friend, maybe a year or so ago, and he absolutely loved it. In fact, none other than J.I. Packer, in the foreword, says every Christian should read it, wait another month then read it again, and finally, read it again. I think this is an important book which offers great guidance to Christians trying to develop biblically based disciplines; however, I didn’t like his style. I felt he was overlay wordy and repetitive. That is the main reason I couldn’t rate this a ‘must read.’ I felt as though I was slogging through too much of it. In fact, on telling someone in a Bible Study recently, that I had finished the book, he responded – reading that book takes discipline on its own. So, apparently, I’m not the only one to find it difficult to get through. However, I guess I will take Packer’s advice and read it twice more. Maybe I’ll have an update to this review accordingly. http://MondayMorningTheologian.com/

  24. 4 out of 5

    Dkovlak

    This is an excellent book. It is the kind of book that should be read at least annually. It is a good reminder for every Christian to proactively exercise our spiritual disciplines. The author discusses a number of these disciplines. I'm sure others can add more disciplines for improving our spiritual lives. He emphasized the fact that we must be purposeful in our lives as Christians. If we are undisciplined, we will never become the people that God wants us to be. We are encouraged, in the Bible, This is an excellent book. It is the kind of book that should be read at least annually. It is a good reminder for every Christian to proactively exercise our spiritual disciplines. The author discusses a number of these disciplines. I'm sure others can add more disciplines for improving our spiritual lives. He emphasized the fact that we must be purposeful in our lives as Christians. If we are undisciplined, we will never become the people that God wants us to be. We are encouraged, in the Bible, to exercise Spiritual Disciplines. 1 Peter 4:7 says: Have nothing to do with irreverent, silly myths. Rather train yourself for godliness. The disciplines that he discusses in detail are: Bible intake, prayer, worship, evangelism, serving, stewardship, fasting, silence and solitude, journaling, and learning. Biblical intake includes hearing, reading, studying, memorizing, meditating, and applying. I have never done some of these disciplines before, but I am willing to try them to continue my Spiritual growth. Near the end of the book, Dr. Whitney quotes Maurice Robert's article "Where Have the Saints Gone? He says "There will be no marked growth in Christian holiness if we do not labor to overcome our natural disinclination towards secret spiritual exercises." This book could be life-changing!

  25. 5 out of 5

    Ian

    (This review is not so much a review of this book as it is a a brief comparison of it to an older work on the same topic). I read Celebration of Discipline by Richard Foster a couple of years ago and got a lot out of it. This year a perhaps overly-zealous Reformed sister in Christ told me that book by Foster (a Quaker) is full of eastern-occultic mysticism and heretical nonsense. I felt pretty discouraged by her comment and thought that my discernment was weak for letting such things go over my (This review is not so much a review of this book as it is a a brief comparison of it to an older work on the same topic). I read Celebration of Discipline by Richard Foster a couple of years ago and got a lot out of it. This year a perhaps overly-zealous Reformed sister in Christ told me that book by Foster (a Quaker) is full of eastern-occultic mysticism and heretical nonsense. I felt pretty discouraged by her comment and thought that my discernment was weak for letting such things go over my head. I supposed Spiritual Disciplines For The Christian Life by Donald S. Whitney would be a good substitute for cultivating more biblical spiritual discipline. Much to my pleasant surprise, Whitney (a Reformed Christian) quotes Foster all throughout his book and commends his contribution to the topic. There is a lot of overlap between the older Celebration of Discipline and this book. I think the biggest difference is that Whitney loves to quote great Puritan writers (I'm a big fan of that), while Foster I remember pulled quotes from more ecumenical sources and especially loved quoting Thomas Merton. (For this reason, I still think Foster's book should be read carefully and with discernment, but it is still overall an excellent book on the spiritual disciplines that will benefit any Christian, and I still highly recommend it, and will probably read it again soon).

  26. 4 out of 5

    Tori Samar

    3.5 stars. In the all-important pursuit of holiness, it is good to consider spiritual disciplines. Are there spiritual activities that we can discipline ourselves to maintain, and will these activities help promote our spiritual growth? Yes, indeed. Whitney does very well to focus on the principle of disciplining oneself for godliness. After all, where in Scripture do we see godliness "just happening to" people who have made no effort to pursue it? Regarding the spiritual disciplines that Whitne 3.5 stars. In the all-important pursuit of holiness, it is good to consider spiritual disciplines. Are there spiritual activities that we can discipline ourselves to maintain, and will these activities help promote our spiritual growth? Yes, indeed. Whitney does very well to focus on the principle of disciplining oneself for godliness. After all, where in Scripture do we see godliness "just happening to" people who have made no effort to pursue it? Regarding the spiritual disciplines that Whitney chose to discuss, I would have liked to see a stronger biblically-based argument for including the list of disciplines that he did. For example, why does journaling make the list but not singing, even though singing is clearly commended in Scripture? Another criticism of this book is that I think it's long-winded in many places. Some of what Whitney said about each discipline seemed like overkill, repetitiveness, or just padding the pages. Nevertheless, there is much good, practical discussion in this book. No doubt any Christian who reads it can find a new discipline to cultivate or find new ways to strengthen the disciplines he or she is already doing! (Read for the 2017 Tim Challies Christian Reading Challenge: A book about spiritual disciplines)

  27. 5 out of 5

    Hannah H.

    There are a few books I can point to as being foundational to my walk with Christ. I think that this book, even more so over time, will easily become one of them. As a type-A perfectionist who grew up in the church, I became disillusioned and spent many years wrestling with the line between discipline and legalism. Whitney’s thorough explanation of the spiritual disciplines and their function has allowed me to better understand what it looks like to steadfastly pursue Christ with a heart of grac There are a few books I can point to as being foundational to my walk with Christ. I think that this book, even more so over time, will easily become one of them. As a type-A perfectionist who grew up in the church, I became disillusioned and spent many years wrestling with the line between discipline and legalism. Whitney’s thorough explanation of the spiritual disciplines and their function has allowed me to better understand what it looks like to steadfastly pursue Christ with a heart of grace and not legalism. This book outlines spiritual disciplines I thought I had grasped (Ex. Bible memorization) as well as disciplines that are scarcely discussed, and thus unknown to me (Ex. Fasting). I was both challenged and encouraged by Whitney’s wisdom—which, if given in another manner, could cause one to feel overwhelmed with a sense of guilt and duty. Rather, I feel better equipped and am excited to seek God with more of my life.

  28. 5 out of 5

    Brian Eshleman

    Excellent, challenging read. Even the most seasoned Christian good in some areas will find something to build on. SECOND READ-THROUGH: I actually found more evidence for encouragement this time, after about eight years. Perhaps I am making progress in holiness. Given millennia, I shall, by the grace of God, be conformed to the image of Christ. As for the author He uses in this text, he has the ability to confront with sometimes hard truth in words we will nevertheless hold close and weave into ou Excellent, challenging read. Even the most seasoned Christian good in some areas will find something to build on. SECOND READ-THROUGH: I actually found more evidence for encouragement this time, after about eight years. Perhaps I am making progress in holiness. Given millennia, I shall, by the grace of God, be conformed to the image of Christ. As for the author He uses in this text, he has the ability to confront with sometimes hard truth in words we will nevertheless hold close and weave into our thinking.

  29. 5 out of 5

    R

    This is probably the go-to book on the basics of spiritual disciplines (prayer, bible intake, fasting, silence, journaling, etc).. I appreciate how biblically saturated it was, the abundance of Puritan authors for illustrations and many specific applications. I also love his continual emphasis that the disciplines are for godliness and Christlikeness.. God is not against effort, only against earning (Willard). Loved it. So convicted and encouraged.

  30. 4 out of 5

    David J. Harris

    Excellent.

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