Spiritual Disciplines

Click here to learn about some spiritual disciplines to help you grow in maturity with Christ.


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Reading List for Going Deeper

General Books on Prayer

Torrey, R A How to Pray Spire Books 1900 – An absolute classic on prayer

Lewis, C.S. Letters to Malcolm: Chiefly on Prayer – Reflections on the dialogue between man and God; Harcourt Brace, 1963. What more can I say about this great man of faith that has not already been said. It was Lewis who helped me see my core unbelief in regards to prayer. “The gnat-like cloud of petty anxieties and decisions about the conduct of the next hour have interfered with my prayers more often than any passion or appetite.”This book ended my debate on the “Why” of prayer.

Nouwen, Henri –The Way of the Heart, Ballantine Books, 1981. Every time I read Nouwen, I am encouraged to spend more time in the silence and the solitude of listening prayer. These small little books are just a sample of his work on prayer. Here is a sample of some of his thoughts:

“The very first thing we need to do is set apart a time and a place to be with God and Him alone.””The desert fathers did not think of solitude as being alone, but as being alone with God. They did not think of silence as not speaking but as listening to God. Silence and solitude are the context within which prayer is practiced.””One of our main problems is that in this chatty society, silence has become a very fearful thing. For most people, silence creates itchiness and nervousness. Many experience silence not as full and rich, but as empty and hollow.” “We need to say them [our prayers] in such a way that we can listen better to the Spirit praying in us.”

Rhodes, Tricia – The Soul at Rest – This little book has a wonderful description of the way God speaks: “As we wait in stillness and sense His presence, we are aware that a voice other than our own has joined our thoughts.”

Gire, Ken – Windows of the Soul – This book can open you up to what God is doing in your life in amazing ways.

Murray, Andrew, Waiting on God, Zondervan

Books on Listening Prayer

Shirer, Priscilla –Discerning the Voice of God: How to Recognize When God Speaks Although written for women, this book is a wonderful introduction to listening prayer for men and women. Each of the two editions are very different and both, in and of themselves, helpful. My wife and I bought both because of the quality of both. For a summary of the first edition, click here.

Cunningham, Loren – Is that really You God? Hearing the Voice of God An inspiring story of how YWAM was started with a strong emphasis on the practice of listening prayer. For a summary of the book, click here.

Batterson, Mark – Whisper: How to Hear the Voice of God Written in true Mark Batterson style, the book is filled with great stories and information all to encourage you to hear God speaking to you. Here are some quotes from the book: “If your life is off-key, maybe it’s because you’ve been deafened by the negative self-talk that doesn’t let God get a Word in edgewise!” “We live in a culture where everyone wants to have his or her voice heard but has so little to say. … The best way to get people to listen to us is for us to listen to God.”  For my summary of the book click here.

Johnson, Jan – When the Soul Listens – Finding Rest and Direction in Contemplative Prayer, NavPress, 1999. This is a great book on Listening Prayer. As the editor mentions in the forward, what Jan calls Contemplative Prayer others call Listening Prayer. In an easy to read and deeply personal style she covers all of the major questions we normally address when we teach on Listening Prayer: What it is? How does it work? What can I expect from God in Listening Prayer?

Huggett, Joy – The Joy of Listening to God, InterVarsity Press, 1986.This is a well written chronicle of one woman’s pursuit of God. There are some particularly good chapters on how God speaks. In addition, Huggett is very honest about her mistakes. Thoroughly helpful.

Fryling, Alice – The Art of Spiritual Listening: Responding to God’s Voice Amid the Noise of Life We used this during our training as Spiritual Directors. Here is a quote that will draw you in – “Life shouts – God whispers.”

Runcorn, David – A Center of Quiet – Hearing God when Life is Noisy, InterVarsity Press, 1990. This book provides wonderful practical insights into listening prayer. ”A book devoted to discussing silence is something of a contradiction and should be treated with great suspicion! Books also have a way of invading spaces for God and filling them with second-hand ideas. Let’s be honest, one of the surest ways to avoid silence and solitude is to read a book about it.”

Virkler, Mark – Dialogue with God, Bridge Publishing, 1986. This book was my first introduction to journaling. It lays the foundation for opening us up to 2-way prayer. His description of how God speaks to us through our thoughts was particularly helpful. It is definitely a good book to begin with.

Willard, Dallas – Hearing God – Developing a Conversational Relationship with God, Harpers, 1993. Without question, the clearest defense of two-way prayer I have ever read. Impeccably precise and methodical, Willard’s work was foundational to my being able to defend what I have experienced. For a detailed summary of this book, check out my blog.

Blackaby, Henry – Experiencing God

Blackaby, Henry and Richard, – Hearing God’s Voice This book contains a thorough analysis of many dimensions of listening to God.  They provide a detailed critique of Gary Friesen’s Decision Making and the Will of God. Friesen’s book started me on my journey to learn to hear God’s voice.  I had been a Christian for 9 years and a good friend recommended Friesen’s book.  I read it and said to myself: “This is not scriptural.”  I proceeded to read the entire Bible straight through – recording an entire history of God speaking to His people and became convinced that not only does God still speak today to His people, but that I needed to learn how to hear Him.

Heavilin, Marilyn Willett I’m Listening Lord – Hearing God’s Voice When You Pray Thomas Nelson; In a very personal yet systematic style Marilyn writes from the perspective of a mother who has lost three young sons in three separate incidents.  This book is a good introduction to Listening Prayer.

Payne, Leanne Listening Prayer – Learning to Hear God’s Voice and keep a Prayer Journal; Baker – This is the most rigorous and thorough book on Listening Prayer I know. “[Listening prayer] exercises our spiritual ears, preparing us to receive from God any word He might send even in the more hectic parts of our days and lives.”

Deere, Jack, Surprised by the Voice of God – How God Speaks Today Through Prophecies, Dreams, and Visions; Zondervan – This book provides a biblical and anecdotal defense of hearing God’s voice today.

Lectio Divina

Foster, Richard Life with God – Reading the Bible for Spiritual Transformation;  HarperOne – Not Foster at his best – but the best description of Lectio is contained in chapter 4

Guyon, Madame Experience the Depths of Jesus Christ; Christian Books – This book was my first introduction to Lectio Divina given to me by my pastor in 1983.

Intercessory Prayer

Murray, Andrew The Ministry of Intercession; Whitaker House. This book transformed my understanding of intercessory prayer.

Grubb, Norman, Rees Howells – Intercessor; Christian Literature Crusade – A book that will challenge forever your understanding of intercessory prayer. It is the biography of a Welsh miner.

Learning to Listen Together

Barton, Ruth Haley Pursuing God’s Will Together: A Discernment Practice for Leadership Groups This book both parallels my book on Listening to God Together and diverges in some significant and thought provoking ways. Although her focus on preparing the team for listening to God is different, no one can debate our need for personal transformation prior to seeking God together. Ruth says: “Therefore, the most important prerequisite for discernment at the leadership level is that everyone in the leadership group is on an intentional journey of transformation—from spiritual blindness to spiritual sight.” This is not covered in my book and is well worth careful study and reflection.

Olsen, Charles Transforming Church Boards into Communities of Spiritual Leaders; Alban Institute Publication. One of the best on the subject

Olsen, Charles and Denny Morris, Discerning God’s Will Together – A Spiritual Practice for the Church; Upper Room Books

Suzanne G. Farnham, et. al. Listening Hearts – Discerning Call in Community Morehouse Publishing.

Suzanne G. Farnham, et. al. Grounded in God – Listening Hearts Discernment for Group Deliberations Morehouse Publishing.

Spiritual Disciplines

Willard, Dallas, The Spirit of the Disciplines – Understanding How God Changes Lives; HarperSanFrancisco

St. Ignatius, The Spiritual Exercises of St. Ignatius; Doubleday

Foster, Richard Celebration of Discipline; Harper and Row

Ortberg, John The Life You’ve Always Wanted – Spiritual Disciplines for Ordinary People; Zondervan. Ortberg coins this “Dallas for Dummies.”

Teresa of Avila Interior Castle; Doubleday – Discover what intimacy with God can look like by one who pursued that intimacy with a deep passion.

Thomas a Kempis Imitation of Christ; – In this little book you will find a man who hears the voice of God; intermittently but deeply.  Here are some excerpts: “A man is hindered and distracted in proportion as he draws outward things to himself.” “What most of all hinders heavenly consolation is that you are too slow in turning yourself to prayer.”

Keeping in Step with the Spirit

Boa, Kenneth Life in the Presence of God – You may know Ken from his walk through the Bible days. This book is a tour de force for those who want to learn how to walk with God throughout the day. He offers 104 difference spiritual exercises to cultivate every day – two a week.  “What I’m asking you to do will take no more than a second, but it will also take the rest of your life.”

I’m talking about learning to live in God’s presence. It’s something I’ve been learning to do more of lately, so I’ve written this book as much for myself as for you. And my goal is simple: to learn with you how to practice the presence of God better in every facet of our lives. By practice, I mean discerning and developing habits of awareness of God’s presence—if not all day, every day, at least much more often than most of us typically do.

I’m proposing that we take our life with God—and our

awareness of his presence—with us everywhere, not just into our quiet times but into our noisy times too, incorporating practices into our lives that help us keep that awareness right in front of us, throughout the day, every day.

If you don’t want the book, Intervarsity has a PDF with a 52 week plan and all 104 exercises

Boyd, Gregory Present Perfect: Finding God in the Now – This is the book that

Present Perfect

brought the largest breakthroughs for me in keeping in step with the Spirit. Jump over the fact that he is an open theist and open your minds and hearts to what he has to say about this topic.  He looks at this topic drawing on the great masters of this topic: Brother Lawrence, J.P. de Caussaude and Frank Laubach. My greatest take away from this book (and there were many) was his challenge to think about where your mind spends most of the time – not on the present but on the past or the future. He challenges us to learn to dwell in the present. I agree with this statement: “I’ve become absolutely convinced that remaining aware of God’s presence is the single most important task in the life of every follower of Jesus.”

Brother Lawrence Practicing the Presence of God The classic book on being constantly in God’s presence.

Ford, Leighton The Attentive Life – Discerning God’s Presence in All ThingsThis is a great introduction to learning to keep in step with the Spirit 24/7 in very practical ways “Spiritual inattentiveness, I believe, comes in large part from our fear of being known for who we really are. Often we keep ourselves busy and distracted because we fear that if we slow down and are still, we may look inside and find nothing there.” Leighton teaches us how to cultivate spiritual attentiveness.  “This book is about attentiveness, not simply as a path to self-fulfillment but as the very essence of our journey to the Center—as the way home to our own heart, the way of making our heart a home for God. …  it is about learning how we may become more attuned to the still, small voice of God in all the seasons of our lives.”

Laubach, Frank The Game With Minutes – After Brother Lawrence, Frank laid down the gauntlet for me – would I learn to walk in Jesus presence by His Spirit every minute of every day. Frank “urged Christians to attempt keeping God in mind for at least one second of every minute of the day. ” Basically, with Frank’s book I became convinced that I was going to learn how to do this – but I did not succeed with his methods. It wasn’t until Boyd’s book sparked my idea of Points of Presence that I made any significant in-roads. But don’t go by my experience, thousands have benefited from Frank’s method.