Richard J. Foster is the evangelical touchstone voice for thoughtful, pause-worthy spiritual reflective readings. Throughout the years, he has provided interested Christ followers and seekers a practical pathway to living out those sometimes seemingly unattainable spiritual disciplines. Above all, Foster’s work takes the “believing” in one’s heart and mind into the “working it out” day-by-day moments of real life. In this current text, co-edited with Julia L. Roller, Foster presents 365 one-page daily devotionals that include generous portions of scripture and commentary, with many punctuated by intermittent prayers and to-do suggestions.
This hefty hardcover text is broken down by topic. Readers will appreciate how easy it is to handle and navigate by simply checking the contents page and perusing through each subject area for one’s area of interest. The authors expound in depth upon each subject by relegating roughly 20 days to every discipline. Included in the resource are a brief overview of the topic at hand and then every area’s “mini-book” of allotted days. Foster delves deep --- as is his characteristic style --- into such topics as prayer, study, confession, worship, service, secrecy, guidance, meditation, solitude, fellowship, fasting, chastity, submission, sacrifice, silence, simplicity and celebration.
One of the most telling areas of a Christian’s life is how he conducts himself in regard to selflessly serving those around him as following Christ’s example. Foster writes that service can be defined as “Loving, thoughtful, active promotion of the good of others and the causes of God in our world, through which we experience the many little deaths of going beyond ourselves.” He then notes the scriptural reference for this principle: “Like good stewards of the manifold grace of God, serve one another with whatever gift each of you has received” (1 Peter 4:10).
Broken down into two sections (“Spiritual Practice: Serving God in Every Task” and “Spiritual Practice: Not to Be Served, but to Serve”), the editors guide readers to first right themselves with God and then respond in loving others as themselves. Some of the sub-topics include serving and carrying, consecrated for God’s service, service in the home, a willing heart, do not withhold good, washing one another’s feet, servants of the Lord, serving each other’s needs, a servant of the Gospel, and a light to the nations.
Interestingly, Foster and Roller manage to bring a true freshness to these age-old spiritual studies. Somehow, everyone is both ancient in wisdom and current to today’s believer. Excellently written and presented, those new to the Christian faith will find themselves gently instructed and encouraged. Those seasoned Christ followers will find equal measures of challenge and perceptive Godly counsel as they continue their spiritual journey. This devotional is a resounding addition to Foster’s previous fine works, and it is no wonder that his resume of accomplishments is associated with all things honorable, noteworthy and true.
Reviewed by Michele Howe on December 29, 2009
A Year with God: Living out the Spiritual Disciplines