Celebration of Discipline: The Path to Spiritual Growth

by Richard J. Foster

Hardcover, 1984




A newly repackaged and updated 40th anniversary edition of the timeless guide that has helped numerous seekers discover a richer spiritual life infused with joy, peace, and a deeper understanding of God, updated with a new introduction by the author and a new section: "Entering the Great Conversation about the Growth of the Soul." Hailed by many as the best modern book on Christian spirituality, Celebration of Discipline explores the "classic Disciplines," or central spiritual practices, of the Christian faith. Along the way, Foster shows that it is only by and through these practices that the true path to spiritual growth can be found. Dividing the Disciplines into three movements of the Spirit, Foster shows how each of these areas contribute to a balanced spiritual life. The inward Disciplines of meditation, prayer, fasting, and study offer avenues of personal examination and change. The outward Disciplines of simplicity, solitude, submission, and service help prepare us to make the world a better place. The corporate Disciplines of confession, worship, guidance, and celebration bring us nearer to one another and to God. Foster provides a wealth of examples demonstrating how these Disciplines can become part of our daily activities-and how they can help us shed our superficial habits and "bring the abundance of God into our lives." He offers crucial new insights on simplicity, demonstrating how the biblical view of simplicity, properly understood and applied, brings joy and balance to our inward and outward lives and "sets us free to enjoy the provision of God as a gift that can be shared with others." The discussion of celebration, often the most neglected of the Disciplines, shows its critical importance, for it stands at the heart of the way to Christ. Celebration of Discipline will help Christians everywhere to embark on a journey of prayer and spiritual growth.… (more)


HarperCollins Publishers (1984), Edition: 1st, 179 pages

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(523 ratings; 4.1)

User reviews

LibraryThing member justindtapp
I enjoyed reading another "classic" by Foster. Short, straightforward, and very encouraging book.

Foster breaks down thirteen Christian disciplines, the practice of which have largely gotten neglected over the centuries. He divides them into three categories (inward, outward, corporate). Here are
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what I gleaned from his discussion of each discipline:

Meditation - whereas the point of Eastern meditation is to empty your mind, Christian meditation is about filling your mind-- with Christ, with the Word, etc. Foster recommends a two-step process of giving and praying while you meditate.

Prayer - He wrote a whole book on this, I recommend it.

Fasting - This is a tough one. There are not specific instructions for how to fast or many details about how people fasted in Scripture because it was such a common practice over the ages, it needed no explanation. I'll take Foster's dietary recommendations with grains of salt, but agree that the clear New Testament explanation is for Christians to fast often. Why don't I do this more?

Study - Foster gives a little advice on various ways to study Scripture, but also encourages us to study works of church fathers like Augustine and Thomas Aquinas for further application and insights.

Simplicity - Foster cautions that purposeful efforts to live simply tend to lead towards legalism, so he gives ten recommended principles. The basic idea is to free yourself from a desire to be like the world, or to have complications in your life that keep you from hearing God's call. "Conformity to a sick world is to become sick." Foster is a Quaker, and like him I believe it's important to make decisions about necessary purchases and lifestyles in community. (I've been thinking about this quite a bit since seeing a PBS Frontline documentary on the Amish. The motivating factor behind their avoiding technology is to avoid objects that would lead someone further from focusing on his/her community. Cellphones and automobiles, for example, make it easier for us to get away from those we are created to be close to. A washing machine or tractor, however, may not necessarily create that pull, so some Amish/Mennonite communities may choose to have them. American individualism hates community dependence, and that is contrary to how God set up Israelite society in His law.)
Does the latest gadget really help you be more productive, or is it about status? If you believe buying the latest fashions help you look better in the eyes of the world, then should you really be buying them?

Solitude - Being intentional about making quiet times alone, and personal retreats so that when we're with people we can be fully with them; just as Jesus did. I am up before anyone else in my household, and have about an hour to myself in the car each day, so I consider that my solitude.

Submission- Giving up your right to retaliate or to speak ill of others. To obey authorities. This is hard for Americans.

Service - Looking to do the menial out of love.

Confession - Having people in your lives that you confess sins to, and pray together with for forgiveness. James says that we're to confess our sins to one another and be healed. How much healing do we forgo in our lives and churches because we don't practice this discipline?

Worship - Embrace distractions in corporate worship, they may be a message from God. Bless the children when they raise a ruckus. Prepare your heart for corporate worship by reviewing the sermon Scriptures and hymns to be sung beforehand. That's a great idea (this is my preferred approach to Sunday school).

Guidance (corporate) - Foster makes the point that our churches do a good job of promoting guidance by the Bible, and personal guidance through reading and prayer, and sometimes even prophetic words or other Spirit-led acts in corporate worship, but argues that we need to go beyond this in terms of guidance. He's getting at something deeper here.

Celebration - Celebration should be the outflow of keeping the above disciplines. Embrace holidays and festivals, have your church and community create their own. Celebrate the answered prayers, the blessings, the hardships and tribulations.

4.5 stars out of 5.
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LibraryThing member leandrod
I really loved this book when I was a Neoevangelical. But then I grew Reformed, and it helped me that I ended up pinpointing what so discomfitted me when first reading it: its emphasys on mystical disciplines deviate from Scriptures and end up deemphasysing grace in favour of a focus on works.

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that it cannot be read with profit. We sure can benefit of spiritual disciplines of prayer, Bible study, meditation &c. But we have to be aware, for example when it deviates from Biblical thoughtful, thinking meditation into visualisation of Jesus that borders on idolatry and idol making.
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LibraryThing member BethanyBible
Richard Foster explains why he believes that the classical spiritual disciplines such as mediation, submission and fasting are the only true ways to promote a deep inner life and infuse it with over whelming joy. Arguably the most established contemporary spiritual classic by our most profound
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living religious writer.
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LibraryThing member firefighter288
Celebration of Discipline has been both widely acclaimed and criticized. Richard Foster has been praised for his approach on the spiritual disciplines as being one of the best works on the subject matter of the twentieth century. Still others ridicule him for his misinterpretation of Scripture and
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the use of some works cited. Although it may not all be biblically correct, for the novice, it is an excellent resource on the use and practice of the spiritual disciplines. If it is anything, it is a magnificent compilation of quotes from an abundant cache of authors ranging from first century to the present. Many of Foster’s insights are incredible. Celebration of Discipline has been a wonderful and inspiring read. Though some of his points I cannot agree with, as with all extra-biblical literature, we are to compare and contrast with God’s truth only found in His holy Word.
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LibraryThing member seoulful
Here Richard Foster lays before us the inward, outward and corporate disciplines of the Christian life. As the author writes, "The purpose of the Spiritual Disciplines is the total transformation of the person. It aims at replacing old destructive habits of thought with new life-giving habits." He
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makes the process very practical, but that does not mean it is an easy course to follow particularly when we consider the disciplines of fasting and simplicity. The beginning point in this adventure as the author states is "a longing after God." A serious, fresh look at spiritual growth.
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LibraryThing member Barrick
Excellent introduction to the spiritual disciplines. Great for individual as well as group study.
LibraryThing member rybeewoods
A classic. When I want to be challenged in my personal intimate growth with Jesus this is where I turn. By the end it tends to get dry (as with all Foster books), but it offers so much.
LibraryThing member lesadee
In my opinion, this might be the single best book EVER on spiritual disciplines. I had to buy a new copy because the old ones had so many things underlined that it was hardly readable.
LibraryThing member bookishbat
Given to me at my church confirmation, First Presbyterian Church in the 1980s. My generation has mostly missed out on the days where special days or awards meant the presentation of a hardback book, so I've always liked keeping this one around.
LibraryThing member gdill
I had heard bad things about this book many years ago. Particularly that a lot of the disciplines outlined in this book has it's source in Eastern religions. For example contemplative prayer and meditation. After reading this book, I can assure you there is no hint of Eastern mysticism. Everything
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Foster mentions has it's roots in early Christianity.

Overall, "Celebration of Discipline" is an excellent book. Perhaps the best in regards to the subject of spiritual disciplines. Full of great insight and practical experiences. Foster segments the book into three categories of disciplines: The Inward Disciplines, The Outward Disciplines, and The Corporate Disciplines. Within each of these categories there are four chapters, touching on everything from meditation, prayer, and solitude to service, confession, and worship. Each chapter involves a reading, questions, and Scripture readings relating to the topic addressed in the chapter.

I never knew there were so many disciplines. Nor, did I know there were many ways to pray, worship, and fast. Great insight drawn from the personal experiences of the author and the experiences of other Christians. I highly recommend this book to all who are seeking a closer relationship with God and who are seeking a better way to allow God to work through them.
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LibraryThing member MatthewClay
A very interesting book on Christian Spirituality for the discerning reader. Some sections are very good but other sections lean heavily on the Medieval mystics which are in turn reliant on Platonic thought.
LibraryThing member DivineMissW
This is an amazing book. If you want to change your walk with Christ. Read this book and do the things it requires. It will be like reading an exercise book if you do it any other way. This is a book about actually DOING the disciplines and not just talking about them or observing them.

Once you
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start the journey of doing the disciplines, your life will never be the same. I originally read this as a library book, but realized I needed to add this book to my personal collection. It sits next to my bible and I read it and refer to it all the time. It tells me how to use my bible to get closer go God. It enhances my walk and it shows me how to apply the things that I have learned in the bible to my life.

Read and follow this book and be changed forever!
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LibraryThing member aevaughn
This book is phenomenal. I didn't agree with everything he said, but his advice was typically very practical for the beginner in spiritual disciplines. In addition, I could always tell that Foster meant every word he said. I especially liked the sections on Prayer, Fasting and Guidance. This is a
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book I will read again and again for years to come.
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LibraryThing member watchman146
An exploration of the vital, ancient Christian practices that can enrich our lives
LibraryThing member temsmail
The best popular level book on spiritual disciplines. It is charismatic in some of its theology; sad that it takes a charismatic to write about the spiritual life; where are the Baptists, etc.?
LibraryThing member bsanner
In this excellent introduction, Foster leads the reader through an insightful study of the texts, traditions, and practices relevant to Christian spiritual disciplines. Celebration of Discipline examines inward (prayer, meditation, etc.), outward (simplicity, solitude, etc.), and corporate
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(confession, worship, etc.) practices that prepare one’s heart for spiritual growth. Foster is ecumenical and practical in his approach: a great resource. A
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LibraryThing member jasongibbs
This book can change your Christian walk. New insight on old practices.
LibraryThing member jenpbarr
This book changed my outlook on the spiritual disciplines. Very insightful, challenging, and well written. An ageless book for all generations.
LibraryThing member somejumps
The classic study and how-to manual for the traditional spiritual disciplines of the Christian church.
LibraryThing member TeriLynneU
Perhaps one of the mot influential book in my Christian walk. Daddy gave this to me in 2001 - it took me almost four full years to read the whole thing. Powerful and enlightening - I had never heard of or considered the spiritual disciplines. Reading this book gave me a passion for learning about
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them and, far more importantly, learning to practice them. I am forever indebted to my Daddy for this gift!
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LibraryThing member jeaneva
Deservedly a classic!
I have always been surprised that so many people have purchased it since the word "discipline" carries so many negative connotations. Perhaps it was the juxtaposition the word "celebration."
Foster challenged me with the discipline of solitude. At the time, one of my greatest
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personal fears was that some day I would be "alone." Recognizing I NEEDED solitude and silence to commune with God was so-o-o helpful spiritually.
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LibraryThing member kylepotter
For those who want to get started on practical and "practice-able" spiritual disciplines, this is an excellent step. Foster helps us to understand how to "put ourselves in the way" of God's transformation, and to guard against guilty legalism.
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