Spiritual Disciplines

Status
Not open for further replies.

RobertPGH1981

Puritan Board Sophomore
Hello All,

I am looking for recommendations on understanding and developing spiritual disciplines. I have Donald Whitney's book and I am looking for other suggestions on the subject.

God Bless,
 

Jeri Tanner

Administrator
Staff member
I’ve heard that the Donald Whitney book names some things as spiritual disciplines that are questionable— like silence? I’m not sure if he advocates listening for God’s voice within, I can’t remember. Just recall there being some problematic issues... did you come across any of that @RobertPGH1981?

Interested to know what the historic Puritan/WCF take would be on the spiritual disciplines a Christian has the duty to practice.
 

RobertPGH1981

Puritan Board Sophomore
I’ve heard that the Donald Whitney book names some things as spiritual disciplines that are questionable— like silence? I’m not sure if he advocates listening for God’s voice within, I can’t remember. Just recall there being some problematic issues... did you come across any of that @RobertPGH1981?

Interested to know what the historic Puritan/WCF take would be on the spiritual disciplines a Christian has the duty to practice.

Good question and I am not sure how this will be viewed but here is a list of chapters within Donald Whitney's book. He does include silence but pairs it with fasting and prayer. Here is a list of chapters.

Lesson One
THE SPIRITUAL DISCIPLINES … FOR THE PURPOSE OF GODLINESS

Lesson Two
BIBLE INTAKE (PART 1) … FOR THE PURPOSE OF GODLINESS

Lesson Three
BIBLE INTAKE (PART 2) … FOR THE PURPOSE OF GODLINESS

Lesson Four
PRAYER … FOR THE PURPOSE OF GODLINESS

Lesson Five
WORSHIP … FOR THE PURPOSE OF GODLINESS

Lesson Six
EVANGELISM … FOR THE PURPOSE OF GODLINESS

Lesson Seven
SERVING … FOR THE PURPOSE OF GODLINESS

Lesson Eight
STEWARDSHIP … FOR THE PURPOSE OF GODLINESS

Lesson Nine
FASTING, SILENCE, AND SOLITUDE … FOR THE PURPOSE OF GODLINESS

Lesson Ten
JOURNALING AND LEARNING … FOR THE PURPOSE OF GODLINESS
 

arapahoepark

Puritan Board Post-Graduate
I’ve heard that the Donald Whitney book names some things as spiritual disciplines that are questionable— like silence? I’m not sure if he advocates listening for God’s voice within, I can’t remember. Just recall there being some problematic issues... did you come across any of that @RobertPGH1981?

Interested to know what the historic Puritan/WCF take would be on the spiritual disciplines a Christian has the duty to practice.
I so far haven't run across anything troubling. His practical ideas for meditation are very helpful.
 

Jeri Tanner

Administrator
Staff member
Is there an issue with referring to some (or all) of these practices as spiritual disciplines? To me, the phrase sort of implies that if we’re not journaling, for instance, or practicing whatever sort of solitude or silence recommended, we’re at best missing out and at worst failing to use the means God has given us to pursue holiness.
I don’t mean to derail the OP! It’s just something I’ve thought about before and since you mentioned the Whitney book, I wanted to ask about it.
 

RobertPGH1981

Puritan Board Sophomore
Is there an issue with referring to some (or all) of these practices as spiritual disciplines?

I know that a sacrament is different than a spiritual discipline but it reminds me of this debate during the reformation. Are there seven or two sacraments? We would need to start by agreeing on a definition on what a spiritual discipline actually is then moving forward from that point. Donald Whitney defines them in the following way:

"The Spiritual Disciplines are those personal and corporate disciplines that promote spiritual growth. They are the habits of devotion and experiential Christianity that have been practiced by the people of God since biblical times. (pg 17)."

In reference to his list I can see how all the items would be beneficial spiritually. I am not sure if Reformed Presbyterians would agree but it would be helpful to pull form other sources. At a high level the definition is vague and I don't think the bible creates this type of category.
 
Last edited:

Jeri Tanner

Administrator
Staff member
Not to keep hammering on the Whitney book Robert because I know your purpose is to get more recommendations, but I did do a quick look at some reviews of the book and thought I’d post just this excerpt from one:

“Other times silence is maintained not only outwardly but also inwardly so that God’s voice might be heard more clearly,” and, “The worship of God does not always require words, sounds, or actions” (Whitney, Spiritual Disciplines, p. 184).”

Are these quotes accurate? I know Whitney revised his book at some point to get rid of quotes or references to Richard Foster, who is pretty mystical.

Wanted to add a recommendation for JC Ryle’s book “Holiness.” I read it many years ago but have progressed so little, I often think.
 

RobertPGH1981

Puritan Board Sophomore
“Other times silence is maintained not only outwardly but also inwardly so that God’s voice might be heard more clearly,” and, “The worship of God does not always require words, sounds, or actions” (Whitney, Spiritual Disciplines, p. 184).
I would have to read that statement in context. When I think of this statement my mind jumps to Jesus looking to be alone to pray. There is some documented instances of Jesus seeking out solitude. Matt 14:13; Mark 6:32; Matt 14:13; Luke 6:12-13; Luke 22:39-44; Luke 5:16. You may even consider the Temptation in the Wilderness one of them as well.
 

Stephen L Smith

Administrator
Staff member
Jonathan Edwards resolutions may be a helpful spiritual aid. Steve Lawson has done an insightful study of his resolutions. See his book "The unwavering resolve of Jonathan Edwards". Edwards also wrote an insightful letter to a young convert. It is worth reading together with his resolutions. Another interesting book is the Diary and Journal of David Brainerd. The Banner of Truth edition includes Edwards reflections on Brainerd's spirituality. It is widely regarded as one of Edward's best reflections on Biblical spirituality in general.

These three works would give you great insight into Biblical spirituality through the eyes of Jonathan Edwards.
 

BayouHuguenot

Puritanboard Clerk
The question of spiritual disciplines elicits hysterical overreactions from both sides. On one hand, silly evangelicals will use it to practice goat yoga or Enneagrams. Hyper-fundamentalists see it as paganism. In reality, it is simply what Paul said about presenting your body as a sacrifice before God. If you want to get better at golfing, do you think thinky thoughts about golfing or do you physically practice it?

Look at it this way. When you are learning the catechism, does it work better when you mentally think the question and answers, or when you verbally say it (or even better, sing it)? There is only one right answer to that question. By physically performing the actions you are creating neural pathways that make it easier. (True story, one Reformed guy, a Gnostic magus, told me I wasn't a Christian for saying that).
 

C. Matthew McMahon

Christian Preacher
The three legs to the stool are very important for the Christian. What are the three legs to the stool you ask? Great question! The preachers of old called prayer, bible reading and godly meditation the "three legs to the stool." Three parts of private devotions that encompass the constituted means God uses through his Spirit to guide his people into communion with the Father, Son and Spirit, by the blood of the Savior. So ...

Here are some works to consider on this, having given this topic much thought on what we call experimental Christianity:


Directions for the Private Reading of the Scriptures – by Nicholas Byfield (1579–1622)

The Nature and Method of Secret Prayer by Samuel Lee (1625-1691)

The Spirit of Prayer – by Nathaniel Vincent (1639-1697)

Gospel Worship - by Jeremiah Burroughs (1599-1646)


The Art of Divine Meditation by Edmund Calamy (1600-1666)

The Whole Duty of Divine Meditation – by Richard Allestree (1619-1681)

A Treatise of Divine Meditation – by John Ball (1585-1640)

Instructions for the Art of Divine Meditation – by Thomas White (d. 1672)


And here are some works on devotions in general:

Directions for Daily Holy Living – by Daniel Burgess (1645-1713)

The Practice of Piety: Amplified with Notes by the Author – by Lewis Bayly (1565-1631)

The Rules of a Holy Life – by Nicholas Byfield (1579–1622)

5 Marks of Devotion to God by C. Matthew McMahon

The Reformed Apprentice Volume 4: A Workbook on Private Devotions – by C. Matthew McMahon

How to Serve God in Private and Public Worship – by John Jackson (1600-1648)

The Christian’s Deliverance by Christ and the Nature of Practical Religion – by John Kettlewell (1653–1695)​


I'm currently working on a symposium of works to fit together to make, "The Puritans on Hearing and Studying the Word of God", forthcoming.
 
Status
Not open for further replies.
Top