In the twenty years since its publication, Celebration of Discipline has helped over a million seekers discover a richer spiritual life infused with joy, peace, and a deeper understanding of God. Hailed by many as the best modern work 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 contributes 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." 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 motivate Christians everywhere to embark on a journey of prayer and spiritual growth.
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 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.
Not 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.
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 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.
Once you 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!
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.