Spiritual Disciplines for the Christian Life by Don Whitney was assigned reading for my Seminary Wives Institute course called Discipleship I and II. I first read this book in 1999 and it transformed my devotional time. It was a pleasure reading this book again, and I learned even more this time. The disciplines explained in this book are Bible intake (including hearing, reading, studying, and memorizing God's word; meditating on and applying God's word), prayer, worship, evangelism, serving, stewardship, fasting, silence and solitude, journaling, and learning.
My favorite part of the book is Whitney's chapter on prayer, and how we can learn to pray by meditating on Scripture. He says, "Meditation is the missing link between Bible intake and prayer. The two are often disjointed when they should be united. We read the Bible, close it, and then try to shift gears into prayer...meditation allows us to take what God has said to us and think deeply on it, digest it, and then speak to God about it in meaningful prayer. As a result, we pray about what we've encountered in the Bible, now personalized through meditation. And not only do we have something substantial to say in prayer, and the confidence that we are praying God's thoughts to Him, but we transition smoothly into prayer with a passion for what we're praying about." Especially if you are ever bored with prayer or feel it is a chore, consider exploring this "missing link." This is also a great principle to use when leading prayer groups or meetings.
A little nugget in the end of the book was particularly meaningful to me this time through. In the chapter on perseverance in the disciplines it says this: "If you are simply waiting until you have more time for the Spiritual Disciplines, you never will...Because life never really settles down, because we will always have plenty of things to do, if we are ever going to make progress in Godliness through the Spiritual Disciplines it must be done when life is like it is now."
Whitney emphasizes throughout the book that the disciplines are for the purpose of godliness. Not to show off or be puffed up or legalistic, but to pursue godliness. I have enjoyed the past twelve weeks of Discipleship class, meeting with this group of ministry wives, and pursuing godliness together.