A Brief Book Summary from Books At a Glance
By Benjamin J. Montoya
About the Author
Don Whitney has been Professor of Biblical spirituality and Associate Dean at The Southern Baptist Theological Seminary in Louisville, KY, since 2005. Before that, he held a similar position (the first such position in the six Southern Baptist seminaries) at Midwestern Baptist Theological Seminary in Kansas City, MO, for 10 years. He is the founder and president of The Center for Biblical Spirituality. Don is a frequent speaker in churches, retreats, and conferences in the U.S. and abroad.
We have probably heard of the spiritual disciplines, but could we list all of them from Scripture? In this book, Whitney explains them from Scripture, provides practical advice for how to put them into practice, and asks his readers to consider several application questions. If we want to grow in godliness, it will happen as we practice these disciplines, not apart from them.
In This Book, You Will Learn:
- What the spiritual disciplines are
- How to practice them
- Why practicing them is so important
The Larger Contribution of This Book:
Everyone needs this book in their library. Yes, we all say that the spiritual disciplines are important, but carrying them out is not always as easy as we would like. Books like these are common; but, good books on this topic are harder to find. Whitney’s book remains thoroughly biblical while also being incredibly practical and accessible. Similarly, one can tell that Whitney speaks from his own experience as he has learned to practice these disciplines.
Table of Contents
Chapter 1 The Spiritual Disciplines … for the Purpose of Godliness
Chapter 2 Bible Intake (Part 1) … for the Purpose of Godliness
Chapter 3 Bible Intake (Part 2) … for the Purpose of Godliness
Chapter 4 Prayer … for the Purpose of Godliness
Chapter 5 Worship … for the Purpose of Godliness
Chapter 6 Evangelism … for the Purpose of Godliness
Chapter 7 Serving … for the Purpose of Godliness
Chapter 8 Stewardship … for the Purpose of Godliness
Chapter 9 Fasting … for the Purpose of Godliness
Chapter 10 Silence and Solitude … for the Purpose of Godliness
Chapter 11 Journaling … for the Purpose of Godliness
Chapter 12 Learning … for the Purpose of Godliness
Chapter 13 Perseverance in the Disciplines … for the Purpose of Godliness
Chapter 1: The Spiritual Disciplines … for the Purpose of Godliness
When we think of the word “discipline,” none of us likely say, “Ah, now that’s what I want.” No, we typically dislike discipline—we think of it only in terms of its negative connotations. But, when it comes to spiritual disciplines, we should avoid such thoughts. Spiritual disciplines serve an important role in our lives.
Spiritual disciplines serve as the means that God uses to help us become more like Christ. Paul writes, “For those whom he foreknew he also predestined to be conformed to the image of his Son” (Romans 8: 29). That is, God wants us to become like Christ. He uses means to make us more like Christ. Those means are the spiritual disciplines. That is why Paul tells Timothy, “Discipline yourself for the purpose of godliness” (1 Tim 4:7). What, then, are the spiritual disciplines?
First, the Bible describes them as both personal and interpersonal. There are some we do on our own and others we do with people. Second, they are activities, not attitudes. Third, they should be limited to what is biblical, that is, in the Bible. The Bible lists several: Bible intake, prayer, worship, evangelism, service, stewardship, fasting, silence and solitude, journaling, and learning. Fourth, spiritual disciplines are sufficient for knowing and experiencing God and, thus, growing in Christlikeness. Fifth, although they are derived from the gospel, they are not divorced from it. They should make us dig deeper into the gospel. Sixth, the disciples are means, not ends. They are means to a much greater end of godliness, that is, of becoming more like. But, God has to work the desire in us to want to do these things in the first place (Phil 2:12–13). We, however, should not neglect them.
There is danger in neglecting them, the primary danger being missing God in our lives. These are the means God uses to work in our lives. But, there is also real spiritual freedom in embracing the spiritual disciplines. We experience the freedom of things like “spiritual lethargy” when we practice the spiritual disciplines. Maintaining these disciplines creates spiritual freedoms we would not otherwise have. If we make good use of them, then we can “enjoy God ad the things of God through the spiritual disciplines.”
Chapter 2: Bible Intake (Part 1) … for the Purpose of Godliness
Bible intake is the most important spiritual discipline of them all. We know God most fully in His written Word. We know the gospel in the Bible. In essence, if we want to know God and grow in godliness, it must be through intaking His Word. Bible intake, has several parts.
First, it involves hearing His Word. We can hear it read and preached in the local church. Second, it includes reading God’s Word. One of the hardest parts about reading God’s Word is making time for it; we need to pray and plan for the discipline to do this. Also, selecting a good Bible reading plan will help us become successful. Failing to plan is planning to fail. Also, when we read God’s Word, we should spend time meditating on a word, phrase, or verse. God can use that to work in our lives as we go about our day. Third, Bible intake means studying God’s Word. Studying involves digging deeper into what we have read. There are plenty of examples of people studying God’s Word in the Bible. It forces us to slow down to make sure we understand what we are reading so we can share and obey it.[To continue reading this summary, please see below....]
Buy the books
SPIRITUAL DISCIPLINES FOR THE CHRISTIAN LIFE (2ND ED.), by Donald S. Whitney