Apart from the Spiritual Discipline of Prayer, Study, confession and worship, which other Spiritual Discipline do you know?
Richard Foster in his book Celebration of Discipline, a contemporary classic that speaks too clearly to every Christian believer, identifies twelve essential spiritual Disciplines.
The profound thing in this book is how Foster has extensively and faithfully cited the Holy Scriptures in his urgings. Not only that, he has also sourced information from recognized devotional classics and even from secular thinkers.
Foster divides the book into three parts; the Inward Disciplines, the Outward Disciplines and the Corporate Disciplines. Each part has four Disciplines, with four here having no particular connotation. He introduces the book with explaining how the Spiritual Disciplines are the door to liberation. However, he warns of several pitfalls that the readers should avoid in this adventurous life of the spirit.
The author gives Jesus as one to emulate in the Disciplines. He notes that in his busy ministry, Jesus would get time to meditate, time to pray, time to fast and time in solitude. In meditation, the author challenges us to hear God’s voice and to obey it. In the subsequent chapter, he notes that prayer is the most central of all the Disciplines and urges us to see things from God’s point of view.
In a remarkable manner, he distinguishes fasting from hunger strike and healthy dieting. He notes that fasting should forever center on God. On study, Foster notes that the key is not reading many books but experiencing what we read. He cautions that we come to scripture to be changed and not to amass information.
In outward Disciplines, Richard extensively covers on Simplicity that calls us to freedom of trusting God for all things. He stresses that Discipline of Simplicity helps us to set possession in the proper perspective. In next chapter, he notes that Jesus calls us from loneliness to solitude where we die not only to others but also to ourselves.
In Discipline of Submission, the author notes that leadership is found in becoming servant of all. He adds that power is discovered in submission reminding us that God call us to a life of submission as Jesus did. In service, he says that it is the most conducive Discipline to growth of humility. Just as the cross of Jesus was sign of submission, Foster notes that the towel is the sign of service.
In outward Disciplines, he says that God calls us to a lifestyle of worship that always come before service, starting with holy expectancy and ending in holy obedience. Foster reminds us that confession is significant to our spiritual growth for it quiets our conscience hence bringing an end to pretense. He notes that believing community is a fellowship of sinners and not saints, as many view it thus shunning away from confession of their sins.
The author emphasizes the need of a Spiritual Director who guides our spiritual growth. He concludes with Discipline of celebration which brings joy and makes us strong. Foster emphasizes that the joy that comes with celebration of Disciplines is found in obedience.
I would recommend the book to every Christian believer since it points out important Spiritual Disciplines, many of which we ignore, that are essential to growth of all. In addition, the book is helpful in that it warns against temptation of turning these Disciplines into law, isolating and elevating some disciplines over others and centering on Disciplines rather than on Christ.
May God help us practice and experience the Spiritual Disciplines besides knowing them. May He forgive us when we have turned these Disciplines to death breathing laws hence failing to achieve the freedom they are intended to give.
Kenneth Irungu is an Apprentice with iServe Africa serving at DOVE Christian Fellowship Kawangware.
Passionate of Faithful Bible Teaching and preaching the Gospel.