Best Books: Spiritual Disciplines for the Christian Life, by Donald S. Whitney

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“Best books” is our new series that spotlights essential reading for Christian leaders. This week’s pick: Spiritual Disciplines for the Christian Life.

In the early years of our church, my wife, Grace, and I started buying Spiritual Disciplines for the Christian Life by the box. We gave away a lot of copies to new Christians and led discussion groups over the years taking others through each chapter. Over the years we have handed out many copies, as it remains a perennial favorite.

To be a Spirit-empowered disciple of Jesus includes practicing certain spiritual disciplines. In this book, Professor Donald S. Whitney examines godliness, Bible intake, prayer, worship, evangelism, serving, stewardship, fasting, silence and solitude, journaling, learning, and persevering.

In the early years of our church, Grace and I started buying Spiritual Disciplines for the Christian Life by the box.

Here are a few reasons why Professor Whitney’s book continues to be essential reading:

1. This book is readable. It does not bog down with technical terms or historical debates about the spiritual disciplines.

2. This book is practical. It’s about integrating healthy habits and rhythms into your life.

3. This book is biblical. It continually works from the Scriptures with a focus on Jesus Christ.

4. This book is theological. It quotes classic writers, especially the Puritans, and steers away from more controversial and mystical aspects of the practice of the spiritual disciplines.

5. This book is reasonable. It is a book filled with wisdom you can apply amidst the demands of a normal life, as opposed to an ascetic who lives in a cave in isolation and without distraction.

There are a few shelves of books on the spiritual disciplines in my library, and each has its unique strength and contribution. But Donald Whitney’s is the one I return to over and over to give to the people I love and pastor.