Spiritual Disciplines for the Christian Life by Donald Whitney is one of the first books that I received as a new Christian. If you could see my copy, you would think that I must have had it for decades. The binding is coming apart. It has so many mark-ups you wonder why I even marked the book at all. It is probably the most well-worn book on my bookshelf. As a matter of fact, it doesn’t even go on my bookshelf. I keep it on my bedside table because I refer to it often.
In case you haven’t caught on, I really like this book. It is not a book that you must read straight through. However, I do recommend that you read it cover-to-cover at least once.
As a fresh convert, I was clueless as to what to do next. I had lived the previous 10 years of my life believing that I was a Christian. However, God graciously revealed to me that my obvious love for sin and lack of desire to turn from my sins was a strong indication that I had not given my life to Christ.
I have always known that Jesus Christ was a man who lived a perfect life and that He died on the cross for my sins. I knew that I had to have faith in Him and believe that He had done all that the Bible said He did. Though these are true, there must be evidence of our salvation, and that evidence is a changed life for the glory of God.
Spiritual Disciplines for the Christian Life could not have been given to me at a better time in my life. I am so grateful for our church in providing this book to all the singles who went on the ski retreat. If you are like me, I took one look at this title and thought, “No way! I’m so not going to be able to do this.” In essence, I was right; however, by God’s grace and through much prayer, I have slowly but surely seen change in my every day living.
This book gives direction. This book meets you where you are. It explains many disciplines that Christians should be practicing day in and day out, as they seek to grow in godliness. It is packed with practical examples, and an abundance of grace filled exhortations. It’s frank, but gracious. It’s exactly what we as Christians need in a day when “feel good” and “prosperity” gospels are running rampant.
In this book, you will first learn WHY you need the spiritual disciplines. Then, he will takes two chapters go over the importance of Bible intake. Afterward he spends a chapter each on the following disciplines: prayer, worship, evangelism, serving, stewardship, fasting, silence and solitude, journaling, and learning. He ends with a chapter on persevering in the disciplines.
As a new Christian, this book was wonderful for me to just get a glimpse of what it means to live a disciplined, Christ-centered life. I didn’t understand all that the book talked about, and much of the concepts were more “advanced” than I could handle at the time. However, I was grateful for the counsel that I have received through many wise men and women at our church. They exhorted me to pick one area that I want to grow in and do it. Don’t try to change all at once. However, if you change one thing, other areas will inevitably change as well.
Now, two years later, I picked the book back up and read it straight through. I was amazed at God’s grace on my life. I could see areas in which I had grown, and I could understand many more concepts that were introduced. It was amazing, and very, very encouraging.
I say all of that to say, God’s grace is sufficient. It is easy to feel as though there is zero fruit being produced from your life at any given moment. However, that is a lie fed to us by Satan. My friends, God is at work in our lives. He is working in and through you to accomplish His will, if you are in Christ Jesus.
However, we must not forget that God has commanded us to pick up our cross and follow Him. Following Him means that we run the race so as to win the prize. We can’t sit around and wait for God to change us, we must PURSUE godliness, and we can PURSUE godliness by disciplining ourselves FOR godliness. This book can help you do just that! I recommend you read this book in its entirety, but then, refer back often as you seek to grow in each individual area. And don’t shy away from what you are not naturally good at. It’s amazing how much you can grow in the Lord when you make yourself vulnerable.
Overall, enjoy the process of growing in the Lord. Guard your heart against legalism, and rejoice in the fact that you are forgiven for your sins – the ones in the past, the ones in the present, and the ones that you will commit. You will fail in the area of the Christian disciplines, but you will bring much glory to God in your pursuit of becoming more like His son – Jesus Christ!
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