Christians should read their Bible, pray regularly, and belong to a local church. You may be someone who takes these habits seriously or maybe not! Or, you may be someone like me who at times struggles to remain on track. No doubt, these are basic fundamentals of the Christian life for us to mature in our Christian walk.These habits may be conscious to some, that is,they have become a part of the routine of daily life.
Pause for a moment and ask yourself these questions: Are you enjoying Jesus while practising these spiritual disciplines? Is your daily pursuit in these habits the result of your close fellowship with Him? Or are praying and reading just a “to-do list” of the day? The how and why behind these spiritual disciplines matters.
David Mathis’ book, The Habits of Grace, Enjoying Jesus Through the Spiritual Disciplines stirs up these heart-searching questions. The book urges Christians to enjoy Jesus by closely and daily walking with Him. And this is done through hearing God through the reading of His word, having His ears in our prayers, and belonging to His body through a local church.
The book begins with a wonderful meditation on the grace of God. The importance of conducting ourselves in the habits of grace, namely, reading the Bible, prayer, and fellowship of the believers can be seen throughout the book. The author intends to promote the habits of grace in the life of believers in a pleasurable way. The approach of this book is not to present these habits as a set of rules, but as a means to enjoy Jesus Christ, the Grace in person. Neither does this book present these habits as a means which believers can use to earn favor from God. Rather these habits are a means of allurement to know and enjoy Christ in the power of the Holy Spirit. These are grace empowered habits. Even our personal acquisition is only possible because the grace of God is liberating and humbling. Therefore, it leaves no room for boasting, nor for self-dependency. Rather we are to depend wholly upon the Giver of grace and the power of the Holy Spirit for these healthy habits.
That being the fact, the book also does not alleviate the responsibility of believers to intentionally acquire these spiritual disciplines in their daily lives. Mathis spends sufficient time discussing the “what” of these habits of grace, but also, the “how and why.” The active intentional pursuit of a believer to excel in these disciplines is encouraged by the author, so that believers will glorify God by enjoying and cherishing Christ. The motivation which he provides for it is very provoking. Oftentimes, we make the mistake of putting ourselves in God’s place. We easily fall prey into the temptation of relying on our strength even while making godly efforts. The book gracefully exposes this sin of ours and crushes its head before our God. The Father works in us both to will and to work for His good pleasure, by His wonderful sufficient grace, and through His power that is made perfect in weakness. God is the adrenaline that excites a believer to read His word, pray to Him, and belong to His church. Our intentional pursuit to excel in the area of these disciplines, which indeed is necessary and required, is only possible because of Him.
What I also find helpful in this book is the centrality of the local church. Enjoy Jesus as a community. Sometimes, many of us are too quick to suggest, “Read the Bible and pray” to any Christian who is desiring to mature in their faith. And what many of us often miss in our suggestion is for them to be a part of a good Bible believing, gospel-preaching local church., Indeed, Mathis says that the local church,“is one of God’s chief means of grace in our lives” (p.130). Our active pursuit to excel in these spiritual disciplines is not only meant for ourselves, but also together as a community.
Carefully reading this book will help to eradicate the idea of “private, individualistic Christianity” and also it will help us understand the importance of the word of God and prayer.Not only in our private lives, but also their importance as a whole in the context of the local church.
The book has both challenged and encouraged me as it has helped me to re-evaluate my approach in these spiritual disciplines. I believe the same for you who will read this book. So, I recommend this book to Christians, both young and old, to pick up and read. The book is written in a simple language such that everyone who’ll read will be able to understand. The applications are helpful and relatable. This book will do well to your soul in enjoying Jesus Christ by hearing His word, having His ears, and belonging to His Body, your local church. I pray that God will use this book in raising a generation who not only worship God, but do so with joy. How glorious would it be if churches were filled with Christians who know Christ intimately, enjoy Him joyfully, cherish Him dearly, and glorify God relentlessly. And all this not only on Sunday morning, but throughout the week and in their life?!