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Book review: Spiritual Disciplines for the Christian life by Donald Whitney

Thursday February 7, 2013 22:08

Here is another book review by our friend, Stephen Smith

Whitney, Donald S. (1991) Spiritual Disciplines for the Christian Life. Colorado Springs, CO: NavPress. 266p


Reviewed by Stephen Smith


This classic work is all about implementing wise spiritual disciplines into ones Christian life. It is based around the teaching of 1 Tim 4:7 “discipline yourself for the purpose of godliness” [NASB]. Each chapter is devoted to a specific spiritual discipline and includes biblical teaching on that discipline as well as practical application.


Two chapters are devoted to Bible intake. These include bible reading (including advice on a good Bible reading plan), memorisation of scripture and meditation. The section on meditation is especially helpful as this is an area often not addressed in modern Christian churches. Whitney states that Meditation involves deep thinking on the truths and spiritual realities of scripture.


The book goes on to explain the importance of prayer for the Christian life. Just as scripture memorisation enhances meditation, so meditation enhances prayer. Letting scriptural principles flow through the mind helps one to pray effectively.


Next, worship is discussed. Worship is focusing on and responding to God. John 4 emphasises that it must be done in spirit and in truth.


Other spiritual disciplines discussed include evangelism, serving others, stewardship of time and money, fasting, silence and solitude, and journaling (to record thoughts on your personal walk with God). Whitney emphasises the fact that these disciplines are to help with spiritual growth – thus they should not be seen as legalistic duties.


Whitney has written a sequel to this book “Simplify your Spiritual Life” (also published by NavPress). This book includes some of the above disciplines but often discusses them from a slightly different angle. For example, it gives some new insights and tools for scriptural meditation.


Simplify your Spiritual Life also contains new material. This includes advice on singing hymns, getting a spiritually wise person to help in your Christian walk, using the Lord ’s Day to enhance your spiritual life and how to use modern technology wisely.


This reviewer suggests that, because of the complementary nature of both books, they should be read together. May they be a helpful tool to “discipline yourself for the purpose of godliness” 1 Tim 4:7.


The author has a website with useful material