What comes to mind when you read or hear the phrase Spiritual Disciplines? Grace or legalism? Opportunities for deepening your faith or a checklist for a greater spiritual “performance?” If you read, and I hope that you will, Nathan Foster’s The Making of An Ordinary Saint (Baker Books), you will find that Spiritual Disciplines are for deepening your faith and finding God’s grace coursing through your daily life.
Foster (whose father Richard J. Foster wrote Celebration of Discipline, a classic on the topic of spiritual disciplines) takes us on his own journey of attempting to incorporate the classic spiritual disciplines of the Christian faith: Submission, Fasting, Study, Solitude, Meditation, Confession, Simplicity, Service, Prayer, Guidance, Worship, and Celebration, into his life. The result is a wonderful and honest book about the power of these twelve practices in shaping one’s character so that God can transform it into one which honors and reflects Him. Nathan’s gritty self-honesty, not just about his present attempts at living for God through these disciplines, but also finding redemption of his past as he did so, is one that I identified with.
His thoughts on the importance of application in the chapter on the discipline of study rang true for me at this stage in my life. More knowledge is not the answer (though I agree with Foster when it comes to being a person still learning) but applying what one already knows is often the way grace gets through to us. And his reminder in the chapter on worship about it being a place of making space for God to work resonated with me as it is easy to be preoccupied with worship “performance.”
The Making of An Ordinary Saint is a wonderfully told story about how one person, as he shares both his failures and successes at learning to practice spiritual disciplines in the midst of daily life and not in a retreat center or monastery, makes the idea of practicing them more accessible to us. It is an inspirational and helpful book and one that will offer believers of all ages a guide as they attempt to practice them as well.
I rate The Making of An Ordinary Saint an “outstanding ” read.
Note: I received a complimentary copy of the book from the publisher, Baker Books, in exchange for a review of it. I was not required to write a positive review.