27 Sep Book Review – Spiritual Disciplines Handbook
SPIRITUAL DISCIPLINES HANDBOOK written by Adele Ahlberg Calhourn (published in 3 parts by IVP India) is an absolute treasure, full of warmth and wisdom. We live in a fast paced world where most of us crave for things we get in an instant — instant coffee, instant success, instant career and the list goes on. Liberty is the “in” thing and we do not like “discipline” especially “spiritual discipline”. We are willing to throw money at the feet of some leaders and want to get instant joy, instant relief from disease and instant gratification. Seldom do we like to discipline ourselves, quieten our hearts, meditate and pray. Such practices can transform us and get us into a living relationship with our Creator.
Spiritual Discipline Handbooks 1, 2 & 3 teach us precisely those disciplines. Book I has two chapters – Open Myself to God and Relinquish the False Self. There are some down-to-earth practical tips that will exalt us to the highest spiritual level. These books should not be read in a hurry; we have to go through each discipline at a slow pace in order to find it an inspirational and rewarding guide. Each Chapter starts with a quote followed by sub-titles such as desire, definition, scriptural references, practice and God-given fruit. Reflection questions are thought-provoking and are followed by spiritual exercises. We can read resources given at the end of each Chapter for further clarity.
Book II talks about sharing our lives with others, hearing God’s Word and witnessing the love of Christ. The Bible teaches that we are accountable to one another and to God. This book expounds this principle and teaches us the intricacies of community living.
‘Prayer’, the most indispensable but unfortunately the most neglected discipline of a Christian, is dealt with in detail in Book III. There are many books on ‘Prayer’ but this book offers some practical and useful suggestions which will certainly improve the quality of a Christian’s prayer life. It provides patterns for attending to God throughout the day. These principles when practised are certain to transform one’s ‘prayers of tears’ into ‘prayers of praise’. Breath Prayer, Centering Prayer, Contemplative Prayer, Conversational Prayer, Fasting Prayer, Fixed-hour Prayer, Inner healing Prayer, Intercessory Prayer, Labyrinth Prayer, Liturgical Prayer, Scripture Prayer, Prayer of Recollection and Prayer Walking are the novel methods offered by the author to pray without ceasing. If one practises these suggestions, one’s prayer life would never be monotonous and mundane; but interesting and meaningful.
Each Book imparts wise counsel and reflects the experiences of the author. We can have a life complete with fulfillment despite life’s interruptions. “Spiritual disciplines give the Holy Spirit space to brood over our souls”.
Even as I finished the first chapter of Book I, I felt had I come across this book earlier in my life, it would have made a lot of difference in my spiritual life. We live in a busy world running all the time with no time to stand and stare. But we cannot give that excuse before our Maker. Dear reader, “He is still working on me, to make me what I ought to be”. When the Sovereign God is showing so much care and concern for a tiny individual, shouldn’t we develop some spiritual discipline to hear His voice?
Read this book, ponder over the principles, you will gradually see a different “You” in your spiritual mirror.
Title: Spiritual Disciplines Handbook – Books 1, 2 & 3
Author: Adele Ahlberg Calhoun
Publisher: IVP India
No. of pages: Book 1 – 106, Book 2 – 116, Book 3 – 96
Price: Rs. 70 each.
(See the back wrapper for the offer details)
About the Author :
Ahalya is a retired bank manager, actively involved in ministry among women in UESI and church, besides contributing in UESI publishing along with her husband, Dr Richard Samuel.