A very good introduction to the classical Christian disciplines. I first read this book not long after it came out in 1978, and it had a huge impact on me. I have not read it for many years, so it was good to revisit it.
This book is an entry level treatment of the disciplines. Foster organises them into three groups: (1) The Inward Disciplines (Meditation, Prayer, Fasting, and Study), (2) The Outward Disciplines (Simplicity, Solitude, Submission, and Service), and (3) The Corporate Disciplines (Confession, Worship, Guidance, and Celebration). The chapter on meditation was considerably expanded from the original 1978 edition with a much longer treatment of meditation on scripture.
Richard Foster writes as a Quaker but he is well acquainted with a wide range of spiritual masters from across the Christian spectrum, from Roman Catholic and Orthodox, to Anglican, to Methodist and Quaker; he also has a warm charismatic streak which I found quite attractive, being a person who was much influenced by the charismatic renewal in the mid-1970s. Perhaps one of the most enjoyable aspects of the book is the way it introduces the reader to so many classical Christian writers (Francois Fenelon, Brother Lawrence, Thomas à Kempis, John Woodman, George Fox, Evelyn Underhill, Meister Ekhart, to name just a few).
This book repays regular rereading. Each time I have returned to it I have found that a different chapter has especially struck me, which Foster would say is evidence that Jesus our present teacher and guide (a phrase he uses frequently) is speaking quietly into the human heart. This time through the chapters on Service and Confession were the ones that spoke most clearly to me.
This book on the classical Christian disciplines is itself a classic, as are Foster’s other books. I highly recommend it.
I was reading the 1988 tenth anniversary edition. A 20th anniversary edition was also published, but I do not think there are a huge number of differences. It can be purchased at Amazon.ca here.