The Beneficial Way to Read Foster’s Celebration of Discipline

Few have a way with words as Richard Foster, even fewer have as deep and balanced practical, philosophical, and theological fundamentals.

One of my favorite quotes from Celebration of Disciplines comes from the section in this powerful book discussing two of the most important spiritual disciplines, solitude and silence,

“Goals are discovered, not made. God delights in showing us exciting new alternatives for the future. Perhaps as you enter into a listening silence the joyful impression to learn how to weave or how to make pottery emerges. Does that sound too earthy, too unspiritual a goal? God is intently interested in such matters. Are you?”

Like Jesus diverting the theological punching match with the women at the well, “Our ancestors worshiped on this mountain, but you Jews claim that the place where we must worship is in Jerusalem.” John 4:19 

Look:

Foster has a unique ability to elevate the conversations from, what Dallas Willard affectionately refers to as “bugagoos”, and turns the focus on our drive towards Christlikeness instead of theological head battles alone.

How?

Celebration of Disciplines is a practical theology book, but I did not learn of its practicality until years after reading it for my first time.

It took reading Celebration of Disciplines and many other best spiritual disciplines books for transformation to begin to occur, 

What is that transformation?

“The purpose of the Spiritual Disciplines is the total transformation of the person. They aim at replacing old destructive habits of thought with new life-giving habits.” Celebration of Discipline

Today you will learn what I missed the first couple of times I read this profound book, and how to read, more importantly, how to “exercise unto godliness” and establish “new life-giving habits” with Celebration of Disciplines as an extremely worthwhile guide.

Celebration of Discipline Summary, 

Richard Foster’s Celebration of Discipline is about as straightforward of a book on spiritual disciplines as it gets. Beginning with a brief but profound call to the spiritual disciplines followed by a chapter per discipline discussing these three fundamentals: 

  • Explaining the discipline
  • The fruits of exercising that discipline
  • And a few ideas of how to begin the spiritual discipline

Other than a few paragraphs which you could read every day for a month and continue to be inspired, there is not even a conclusion in this book.

This is much different than the other critical spiritual disciplines read, Spirit of the Disciplines by Dallas Willard.

Both are necessary for different reasons, 

Willard’s book is the most compelling “why” and “what” are the disciplines while Foster chose to write a monumental field guide.

What’s in this spiritual disciplines field guide?

Celebration of Discipline Chapters – Richard Fosters Spiritual Disciplines

Richard Foster chose to break Celebration of Disciplines into three sections, the inward disciplines, outward disciplines, and the corporate disciplines. 

Here are the Celebration of Discipline chapters which are the spiritual disciplines Richard Foster discusses, 

  1. The Spiritual Disciplines: Door to Liberation

Part I. The Inward Disciplines

  1. Meditation
  2. Prayer
  3. Fasting
  4. Study

Part II. The Outward Disciplines

  1. Simplicity
  2. Solitude (includes silence)
  3. Submission
  4. Service

Part II. The Corporate Disciplines

  1. Confession
  2. Worship
  3. Guidance
  4. Celebration

Celebration of Discipline “Exercise” Study Guide 

“Good feelings will not free us. Ecstatic experiences will not free us. Getting ‘high on Jesus’ will not free us. Without a knowledge of the truth, we will not be free” from Foster’s chapter on study.

What will free you?

It takes time to 

  1. Learn the liberating way of the spiritual disciplines (few explain this as well as Richard Foster) 
  2. Exercise the discipline to begin to experience these fruits

Worthwhile spiritual disciplines are more difficult than gardening or learning a language because: the hardest ones are the ones you need the most! 

Foster does not say specifically why he stopped at a list of twelve disciplines to include, I hypothesize after going through this book a few times now and learning:

The best way to use this book is to every month or so, focus on a different discipline in your life.

Twelve chapters delving deep into 13 spiritual disciplines, (solitude and silence are in the same chapter) one for each month over the next year, is a surefire way to improve fast with one disclaimer, warning from Foster,  

“Our tendency is to overestimate what we can accomplish in one year and underestimate what we can accomplish in ten years” Celebration of Discipline pg. 107.

I have gone through this book as a group study, it was beneficial. 

The transformation began to take place when I learned the most important spiritual disciplines, and incrementally add one on top of each other, instead of drinking from a fire hose and drowning.  

Pick up Celebration of Disciplines here and leave a comment below for me and yourself, and update me in 12-months, 

I’ll bet you a dollar you will be a new person.


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