Celebration of Discipline: The Path to Spiritual Growth by Richard Foster has sold more than one million copies since its publication in 1978 and remains one of the core books on spiritual growth for Christians. In his book, Foster explores twelve spiritual disciplines which he divides into three categories: inward, outward and cooperate. Foster is not legalistic in practicing the disciplines, but believes that a change of heart should be lived out through actions.
Celebration of Discipline lives up to its reputation as one of the most helpful resources for practicing a Christian life. Foster does an extraordinary job addressing all twelve disciplines (meditation, prayer, fasting, study, simplicity, solitude, submission, service, confession, worship, guidance and celebration) with fullness and clarity.
In each chapter Foster validates the use of each discipline with common sense and basic observations, evidence of the discipline being used in Jesus’ life, examples of how it has been practiced throughout the ages, and stories of his personal experiences performing the discipline. Foster also includes practical steps for incorporating the disciplines into our daily lives. His suggestions are specific and progress from beginner to experienced, making them applicable to Christians at any stage in their spiritual walk with God.
Throughout the entire book Foster writes with honesty, sharing both the rewards and difficulties of each discipline. Foster also calls for balance in everything so we never get so fixated on one discipline we neglect the others or so focused on our actions we forget the God they are meant to bring us closer to.
Celebration of Discipline covers a lot of areas and with a call to action in each chapter. For this reason, I would recommend reading only one chapter at a time to take full advantage of its depth. Many would also encourage reading it several times as reminders of how to include the disciplines in daily life. These two suggestions are complementary because each reading of the book can take months or years and chapter can stand alone as an excellent resource.
However, I would offer two warnings. First, although Foster presents steps in a progression, the last step is often far beyond what a Christian is capable of completing without years of practicing the discipline and readers should be careful not to be overwhelmed on the first reading. Second, even with Foster’s reminders not to become legalistic in practicing the disciplines, the temptation will always be close at hand. Fight it every page you read.
Celebration of Discipline lives up to its role as a classic in Christian literature. It is a helpful tool for both new and experienced Christians as they seek to grow in their understanding of God and enrich their life with him.
Other resources that may accompany Celebration of Discipline:
Do you have any suggestions of helpful resources you’ve used to guide you in practicing the spiritual disciplines?