Cover Image: A Short Guide to Spiritual Disciplines

A Short Guide to Spiritual Disciplines

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Member Reviews

When I bring up the topic of spiritual disciplines in one of my talks, I get mixed responses. Some women are eager to have the discussion, curious, and looking for support. Others seem to feel overwhelmed, even resentful sometimes that their time has to be sliced and diced into one more segment and they’re not really sure how to make it work.

Mason King offers A Short Guide to Spiritual Disciplines with the goal of encouraging readers to become healthy and engaged believers who are investing in their relationship with God.

It’s clear that no one becomes a mature Christian in the future without doing the work today. With that in view, King offers probing, big-picture questions to stir the thoughts. For example: If who you are today is the product of the choices from all your yesterdays, who are you becoming right now?

Rather than a list of tasks and advice, the book challenges readers to live into a relationship with God that affects our choices, to lean into the daily rhythms of Bible reading and prayer with a long view that doesn’t get discouraged if bushes don’t burn and lightening doesn’t flash from every page. As Psalm 1 beautifully illustrates, we are invited to “be like a tree planted by the rivers of water.” Christ is that River of refreshment, but in 2023, our attention is often misplaced and we waste our delight and squander our attention on screens. We cave in to distractions that mask our deeper needs that only God is able to fulfill.

King writes about using the “hinges” in his day for processing his work and his feelings with God. The goal is always to eliminate hurry, be still, listen for the Lord, listen to our people, and chase quiet moments for confession and actually feeling our feelings. I imagine that Jesus’s approach to spiritual disciplines was as relaxed and natural as all this, a life patterned after joyful holiness and lived in simple communion with God.
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I have been a Christian for many years, but I’ve never really intentionally studied spiritual disciplines specifically. This book was an awesome read because it was succinct enough for someone studying it for the first time, but deep enough for someone who has been studying the Word for years to get great meat from it. Our walk with God needs to be intentional, and this book helps instruct the reader how to be more disciplined and continue to grow to look more like Christ. The discussion questions are very thought provoking, and the resources at the end are an amazing resource!!
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Kind of a slow read for me, but the author does offer some good advice on how to be disciplined in seeking God.
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I love that this book is short and accessible. This is a book I can give to those wanting to learn about spiritual disciplines without them being intimidated with the length. Mason does a great job explaining the disciplines in a helpful way.
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I received a copy from NetGalley for an honest review.  For full disclosure, the author is a pastor at the church my family and I call home.  In this short book, King helps to grow in understanding of the matters of the heart that both help and hinder spiritual growth and offers practical steps in the “process of becoming who God made you to be”. He goes beyond the standard spiritual disciplines checklist to prompt deeper thinking about how we steward our time, attention and emotions  and to engage in honest examination of ourselves.  Each chapter includes questions for discussion, making it a great resource for small group study.  I expect to return to this resource frequently and will definitely be sharing with others.
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I was sitting with a lady the other day who was struggling with significant health issues. Her biggest anxiety was related to the uncertainty of whether or not she would improve enough to do the things she normally did and enjoyed. 

We often take our physical health for granted. But what about our spiritual health? Do we assume that because we're a believer we're automatically given a healthy spiritual life? I think we all know our circumstances and hardships easily reveal the ways we're not in good shape and we feel the pain of raw wounds rubbed on sometimes.

Just as our physical health is no guarantee, neither is our spiritual maturity. While we  discipline ourselves in practices that keep us near to Christ, A Short Guide to Spiritual Disciplines: How to Become a Healthy Christian shows us how we can grow in maturity, not just in spiritual practices, but also by considering ourselves as a whole and how our faith connects with our humanity and emotion.

So, how do we become healthy Christians?

"You might think the answer is "regularly read the Bible, pray often, and share the gospel consistently." And those practices are certainly part of it. But in this book, Mason King expands your thinking beyond basic spiritual practices (which typically emphasize what you must do) into a more holistic picture of what a full and flourishing life with God can look like when it is cultivated well (focusing instead on who you might become).

In these pages, learn how you can become a vibrant, healthy Christian by regularly offering to God three main dimensions of your life—your attention, your emotions, and your limits—for when you are disciplined in cultivating these environments at the root, you will grow into the right kind of tree." (from the back)

I think the title of this book is a little misleading. If you've read books on spiritual disciplines, usually you anticipate the discussion to be about the specifics, like chapters on Bible reading, fasting, prayer, fellowship, etc. (like Richard Foster's Celebration of Discipline)

This book isn't that. The author rather focuses on 3 important challenges to our spiritual maturity for this cultural moment: The relentless hijacking of our attention, how we interact with and process our emotions, and accepting our humanity and the limits we have as created beings.

He reminds us that unless we're dissatisfied with our life, we're not likely to change. When it comes to our spiritual growth, we do need to take a look at these 3 areas prayerfully and reflectively to see the ways we've not fully surrendered our whole lives to Christ. Obviously we're not perfect people, so it's not a judgement, it's an invitation to draw near to Christ, to lay our lives before the Spirit to examine and lead us deeper toward Him.

When it comes to our attention, he points out, "our attention is the most precious commodity we have. It is worth billions of dollars every day to companies who want to monetize our moments, desires, and good intentions."  I'm not sure I'd really ever reflected on the monetary value of my attention, but it sure shook me to consider the importance of my stewardship in this area, particularly as devices seem to claw for my eyeballs.

The discipline of our emotions is a really valuable section in this book. As a nurse specializing in mental health, this is a regular topic for me with clients. The author shares biblical truth and practical strategies to help us. He reminds us, "if left unprocessed, emotions reinforce disordered desires and distort interpretations of our own experience. Surrendering and discipling how we handle our emotions enables us to move through them toward productive action in life with God." We learn to recognize what we're feeling, and also to trust God with how we feel. 

Recognizing our limits may sound self-explanatory, but I don't think we always live this truth practically, especially when it comes to our drivenness and ambition, selfishness and self-reliance. The individualist mentality our culture adopts thinks me-first or what's right for me, in contrast to what's best for our community. Though we have great abilities in our modern day to govern and control our own lives, the value and importance of community often goes to the wayside. 
This book is for the Christian who wants to grow in maturity, yes that means becoming more disciplined and you'll find practical ways to do just that. I'll definitely give this 5 stars because there's really important topics to reflect on and offers practical ways to implement them. I highly recommend it.

Quick Stats
# of pages: 208
Level of Difficulty: Easy
My Rating: 5 stars

*Thanks to Netgalley and the publisher for the ARC and the opportunity to post an honest review!
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I received an ARC from NetGalley of this Short Guide to Spiritual Disciplines by Mason King. In my opinion, it was such a fantastic read. This little book, which was quick and easy to read, packed a punch with each page reflecting so much wisdom, biblical teaching and practical advice. I also liked that each chapter concluded with a list of discussion/reflection questions.  I have read many books on creating habits and disciplines to enhance our spiritual lives and I love pursuing that journey in my own life. What I loved about this specific one was that King takes a bit of a different approach and instead of focusing on each discipline or going through a list of sorts, he focuses on the deep rooted habits and issues that are more about our attention, emotions and limitations. He takes these three areas and expands and intertwines the spiritual disciplines throughout. This is a “short guide” that I could definitely see myself reading again and again to help in my daily habits and spiritual life and it is also one that I would highly recommend for others who want to further mature and develop in their Christian journey.
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This book hit the spot exactly where I needed it to. As Mason King says in the book, "God's not waiting around for a future version of you to love and He has has future version of you in mind." It's so easy to get swept away by every day life but with the everyday practice of spiritual disciplines we can firmly plant our feet in the direction that leads us to where and how God wants us to live. King shows us how disciplining our attention, emotions, and limits help us to live a healthier version of our Christian life. This isn't a numbered step plan or an unattainable way of living, it is a guide to examining our current lives and finding the places where we can better focus on putting our trust and faith in Christ to lead our lives. This book is will be. a joy to both the new Christian and the been around for a while Christian, everyone will find something helpful and that pertains to them in this book.
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This book is an excellent starting point to Christian spiritual disciplines. King lays out three essential dimensions to nurturing a healthy relationship with God and your own place in His creation. To each dimension he lays out several steps to break it down and make it manageable. It is succinct and deep all at the same time, The body of the book was great, but one of the big things that caught my eye was the resource section in the back. I love lists. Especially lists of books. Especially especially lists of books about many different facets of Christian history, theology, education, and living.

Thank you, NetGalley!
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