Here is the book review of David Mathis’, “Habits of Grace: Enjoying Jesus through the Spiritual Disciplines.”
I was given this book to read and review since I teach a class at The Los Angeles Bible Training School on discipleship which focuses on the practice and passing on of the spiritual disciplines.
Summary: The book covers the basic elements of the spiritual disciplines. The book provides three main sections that each correspond with a foundational spiritual discipline. The first section provides a foundation for Bible intake (chaps. 1-6), the second section on prayer (chaps. 7-12), and the final section on fellowship (chaps. 13-18). The book ends with a few appendices on gospel sharing (chap. 19), and stewardship of time (chap. 20), and money (chap. 21).
Weaknesses: The book does tackle a rather broad topic that should often require much more spilt ink. A little more guidance on the area of Bible reading or study would be better as well. To some extent all Christians should know that they should read their Bible, not many know how. This is a very very minor issue of the work since those reading it are probably familiar with other good resources.
Strengths: The strength of the book is its relentless attention to the core issue of practicing the Spiritual disciplines—a genuine love and passion for God. Often times books on spiritual disciplines can focus on a laundry lists of “to-dos” that will grow the Christian (i.e., read your Bible once in a year, pray 1 hour a day, or serve in the local church). This particular work will constantly remind readers to focus on gaining more of Christ as a result of practicing the disciplines.
The book also excels in its section on church fellowship. Six entire chapters are devoted to the importance for a believer to be plugged in and committed to a local church. This is a discipline that may be overlooked in some of the other more detailed and elaborate works on the spiritual disciplines.
A third strength of the book is its recognition of its contribution. Mathis clearly indicates that his intention is not to replace larger and more prominent works on the spiritual disciplines (like Donald Whitney’s book). He merely tries to communicate the basic principles that will lead to a healthy Christian life.
Recommendation: This book is probably best suited for new believers becoming first immersed into the Christian faith. It will also highly benefit older saints looking to rekindle their motivation for persevering in the spiritual disciplines—a deep and growing love for the Savior. While it is a short work it is an enjoyable read that challenges the soul.