The Spirit of the Disciplines: Understanding How God Changes Lives

by Dallas Willard

Paperback, 1999




How to Live as Jesus Lived Dallas Willard, one of today's most brilliant Christian thinkers and author of The Divine Conspiracy (Christianity Today's 1999 Book of the Year), presents a way of living that enables ordinary men and women to enjoy the fruit of the Christian life. He reveals how the key to self-transformation resides in the practice of the spiritual disciplines, and how their practice affirms human life to the fullest. The Spirit of the Disciplines is for everyone who strives to be a disciple of Jesus in thought and action as well as intention.


HarperOne (1999), Edition: Reprint, 288 pages

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(169 ratings; 4.1)

User reviews

LibraryThing member beanbooks
If Dallas wrote it you should read it. Some say Chapter 2 is worth the price of the book.
LibraryThing member deanc
In his preface, Willard says that "this book is a plea for the Christian community to place the disciplines for the spiritual life at the heart of the gospel." That is, to be a Christian is more than merely believing and confessing a set of propositions about God, Jesus, and salvation; it is to be
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like Jesus and to practice the righteousness he requires. Willard indicts the church in America for failing to help believers actually become like Jesus in thought, word, and deed. Christians need explicit training in how to express in their bodies the essence of Christlikeness in the moment-by-moment of each day through the practice of spiritual disciplines.

Willard provides clear definitions of several of the classic disciplines, benefits they can bring to a church and individual believers, and practical ways of doing them. He devotes a substantial chapter to the question of poverty as a spiritual discipline, asking the question, "Is Poverty Spiritual?"

One thing Willard does well in all his writing is provoke critical self-examination without laying on a guilt trip. The result is often (at least for me) either repentance, spiritual enlightenment or both. The book contains chapter endnotes, a full bibliography, and name, subject, and scripture indices.
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LibraryThing member JTracy
Willard provides us with an overview of Christian discipleship, coming at it from various angles. The reason we practice spiritual disciplines is no different than the reason an athlete trains and practices. We use disciplines to train ourselves so that our connection with God is established and
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maintained and so that living in the way of Christ comes naturally (automatically?) as we go about our lives.

Willard's view of discipleship is wise in that he emphasizes the need to address the whole person -- mind, body and spirit -- in the path of discipleship. He avoids the tendencies of some to reduce Christian discipleship to mere training of the mind. This has been a tendency of mine anyhow and I found his more broad emphasis to be helpful.

There is a discussion regarding various specific disciplines. They are divided up between disciplines of abstinence and disciplines of engagement. Each gets a brief description with recommendations regarding their use.

Willard is known for his sometimes dry writing style and it certainly comes through in this work. I say this because the chapter titled "Is Poverty Spiritual?" near the end of the book is easily worth the price of the book on it's own. If you find yourself getting bogged down in the middle of the book, skip ahead to this chapter.

Overall this is a helpful work for those looking for an overview of spiritual disciplines and how they are helpful and even necessary in the maintenance and growth of Christian faith and discipleship.
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LibraryThing member joannaholbrook
An intriguing look at the Spiritual disciplines. I thoroughly enjoyed it.
LibraryThing member jd234512
While I certainly believe that there was much good in this book and it deserved the renown that it got at the time, I believe there are much better books that are done on these sorts of topics. Although it may have been a precursor to the aforementioned books, I believe that it was less focused.
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Overall, though, I think there's much wisdom in it and I probably just should have read a different book of his first.
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LibraryThing member temsmail
This is a good introductio to Christian Spiritual disciplines; amazingly alliterated and all beginning with "D"!
LibraryThing member rybeewoods
I need to give this book a second shot. I gave up half way through last time and I'm not sure if it's because I'm a bad Christian or if it was just bad timing. I just found it dry and uninspiring. Maybe I was just expecting something else.
LibraryThing member Barrick
Excellent for in-depth discussion. Not "easy reading" but meaningful and foundational to serious study of spiritual disciplines.
LibraryThing member kdavidw
The second book I've read now by Dallas Willard, the first being The Divine Conspiracy. He continues to bring fresh perspective, this time in dealing with the spiritual disciplines.

Key quote = “We have one realistic hope for dealing with the world’s problems. And that is the person and gospel
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of Jesus Christ, living here and now, in people who are his by total identification found through the spiritual disciplines. Why? This faith and discipline yields a new humanity.”
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LibraryThing member dannywahlquist
I enjoyed this book, and some of my favorites quotes include:
"Christianity has not so much been tried and found wanting, as it has been found difficult and left untried." G. K. Chesterton

"to think that following Jesus consists of loving our enemies...while living the rest of our lives just as
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everyone around us" DallasWillard

"'teaching them to do all things whatsoever I have commanded you' the Great Omission from the Great Commission" Dallas Willard
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