Celebration of Discipline: The Path to Spiritual Growth
By Richard J. Foster
Harper Books / 1998 / 228 pages / Revised Edition
We read in the New Testament about the “Gifts of the Spirit” and the “Fruit of the Spirit.”
But, what do people mean when they use the term, “the Spiritual Disciplines?” What is a ‘spiritual discipline’ and how does the practice of these disciplines affect a person’s maturity in the Faith, as well as the corporate expression of that maturity in a local church community?
Richard Foster explores this important terrain in his book, Celebration of Discipline. Originally published in 1978, this volume has been republished several times, in revised and expanded form. Considered to be one of the best modern handbooks to focused, faithful Christian living, Celebration of Discipline explores the essential spiritual practices used today, and down through the ages.
Richard J. Foster is the author of several bestselling books, including Celebration of Discipline, Streams of Living Water, Life with God, Freedom of Simplicity and Prayer. He is the founder of the American intrachurch movement, Renovaré, an organization committed to the renewal of the Church in our day.
Foster divides the spiritual disciplines into three categories and explains how each of these expressions of the Spirit contribute to the symmetry and fullness of a person’s life-journey. The inward disciplines of meditation, prayer, fasting, and study, offer avenues of personal examination and change. The outward disciplines of simplicity, solitude, submission, and service, help prepare us to make the world a better place. The corporate disciplines of confession, worship, guidance, and celebration, bring us nearer to one another and to God.
“Like a child exploring the attic of an old house on a rainy day, discovering a trunk full of treasure and then calling all his brothers and sisters to share the find, Richard J. Foster has ‘found’ the spiritual disciplines that the modern world stored away and forgot, and has excitedly called us to celebrate them. For they are, as he shows us, the instruments of joy, the way into mature Christian spirituality and abundant life.” ~ Eugene H. Peterson.
Selected quotes from Richard Foster’s Celebration of Discipline:
“God has given us the Disciplines of the spiritual life as a means of receiving his grace. The Disciplines allow us to place ourselves before God so that he can transform us.”
“Humility, as we all know, is one of those virtues that is never gained by seeking it. The more we pursue it the more distant it becomes. To think we have it is sure evidence that we don’t.”
“Silence is one of the deepest Disciplines of the Spirit simply because it puts the stopper on all self-justification.”
“Of all spiritual disciplines prayer is the most central because it ushers us into perpetual communion with the Father.”
“To pray is to change. All who have walked with God have viewed prayer as the main business of their lives.”
“The purpose of meditation is to enable us to hear God more clearly. Meditation is listening, sensing, heeding the life and light of Christ. This comes right to the heart of our faith. The life that pleases God is not a set of religious duties; it is to hear His voice and obey His word. Meditation opens the door to this way of living.
“Fasting must forever centre on God. More than any other Discipline, fasting reveals the things that control us.
“Disciplines are not the answer; they only lead us to the Answer. We must clearly understand this limitation of the Disciplines if we are to avoid bondage.”