He hasn’t written the definitive book on the spiritual disciplines, David Mathis writes in his introduction to Habits of Grace: Enjoying Jesus Through the Spiritual Disciplines; that was not his intention. Instead, he says, this book is an introduction, relatively brief, aimed at helping “Christians young and old simplify their approach to their various personal habits of grace.”
That’s what he calls spiritual disciplines – habits of grace. And he describes three overarching principles or habits of grace: hearing God’s voice (his word); having God’s ear (prayer); and belonging to his body (fellowship).
We’re not talking high-flown theology here. We are talking the basic stuff of the Christian life, habits and practices associated with Christianity since the time of Jesus.
Study. Prayer. Fellowship.
Mathis details each of the three habits with simple, accessible things you do, and can do. For example, for study, he explains why it’s important; how to read the Bible; how to meditate passages, themes, and ideas; the role of memorization; and how to do this for the long haul. For prayer, he explains the joy of this “gift;” how to pray; and the roles that fasting and keeping a journal can play. And for fellowship, taking the broad definition (it’s more than coffee and potlucks), he describes the fire of corporate worship, what we should listen for form the pulpit; the sacraments of baptism and the Lord’s Supper; and even the role of rebuke.
It’s the simple bedrock of the Christian life.
Mathis has co-authored and co-edited several books with theologian and scholar , including Finish the Mission, With Calvin in the Theater of God, Cross, The Romantic Rationalist: C.S. Lewis, The Pastor as Scholar & The Scholar as Pastor, Thinking Loving Doing, and Acting the Miracle. He serves as executive editor of desiringGod.org, is a pastor at Cities Church, and is an adjunct professor at Bethlehem College & Seminary in Minneapolis, Minnesota.
Habits of Grace is full of simplicity and full of wisdom. We don’t need advanced degrees to understand, experience, and practice God’s grace. What we do need is study, prayer, and fellowship.
Top photograph by Kirill Pershin via Unsplash. Used with permission.