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Sacred Rhythms: Arranging Our Lives for Spiritual Transformation Hardcover – February 10, 2006


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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 192 pages
  • Publisher: IVP Books; annotated edition edition (February 10, 2006)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0830833331
  • ISBN-13: 978-0830833337
  • Product Dimensions: 8.6 x 6.5 x 0.9 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 13.6 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.6 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (67 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #9,350 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

Christian spiritual disciplines are all the rage, and joining the legions of "how-to" books reintroducing contemporary Christians to ancient practices is this offering by Barton, a spiritual director and retreat leader (Invitation to Solitude and Silence). With elegant writing and a personal touch, she covers the basics handily—the role of desire and longing in relationship with God, praying with scripture, and the need for solitude, self-examination, discernment and Sabbath. She concludes with an exercise that helps one develop a "rule of life," or commitment to "structure and space for our growing." What makes Barton's handbook different from the rest is her personality; she describes the practices with the gentle touch of an understanding and knowing mystic, telling her own stories along the way. Barton recounts the time she and her bicycle were run over by a minivan (miraculously, she was not seriously hurt) and as she recuperated, she pondered whether this accident was a time to reconsider her need for Sabbath: "I did not want to acknowledge the possibility that it was that hard for God to get my attention." This book is a wonderful starting point for Christians eager to more deeply explore the life of the Spirit. (Mar. 30)
Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.

Review

"[Barton] describes the practices with the gentle touch of an understanding and knowing mystic." (Publishers Weekly, January 29, 2006)

"Ruth Haley Barton offers much wise, sane, concrete help for people who are ready for the 'more' of God amidst their busy lives, and want a better way to arrange their lives to receive God's transforming presence. She clearly spells out an excellent rhythm of classical spiritual practices that can keep us open and available to God's transforming actions in and among us. She grounds these practices in our own deepest desires, connecting those desires with God's desire for our well-being. She shares some of her own personal experiences as a sometimes struggling Christian in an honest and inspiring way. She gives very helpful guidelines for using the book within a group of people who are seeking to create better conditions in their lives to receive God's transforming presence.

I think this book will be of enormous value to individuals and groups who are seeking to more fully ground all dimensions of their often fragmented and hectic daily lives in the liberating ground of God's transforming presence, with the help of a rhythm of vital spiritual practices that can keep us available to that loving presence." (Tilden Edwards, author of Sabbath Time and Living in the Presence)

"Our natural tendency is to push, work longer and strive. In a kind, compelling and beautiful voice Ruth Haley Barton invites us to listen to an inner pulse that can be heard only when we are quiet. The path is one that Ruth has walked with honesty and integrity. The fruit of her labor is a sweet call to know our lives need not be harried or harbor fruitless exhaustion." (Dan B. Allender, Ph.D., professor and former president, Mars Hill Graduate School, and author of The Wounded Heart)

"Ruth Barton confirms what you've suspected—there is more to life than what most of us are living. This volume serves as a great primer for helping us get in touch with and follow our longings—all the way to God!" (Reggie McNeal, author of The Present Future and A Work of Heart)

"Too many people are suffering with CFS (Christian Fatigue Syndrome). Ruth Haley Barton is herself a CFS survivor, and she shares here—in a warm and personal yet lucid and thoughtful writing style—how she has been restored to life's sacred rhythms. My experience mirrors hers, and I will enthusiastically recommend this book widely—both as preventative medicine and as needed therapy." (Brian McLaren, speaker and author of A New Kind of Christian)

More About the Author

Ruth Haley Barton (Doctor of Divinity, Northern Baptist Theological Seminary) is founder of the Transforming Center, a ministry dedicated to strengthening the souls of pastors, Christian leaders and the congregations and organizations they serve. [www.thetransformingcenter.org] A sought-after teacher, retreat leader and trained spiritual director, Ruth is the author of numerous books and articles on the spiritual life.

Educated at Northern Seminary, the Shalem Institute for Spiritual Formation and Loyola University Chicago Institute for Pastoral Studies, she has served on the pastoral staff of several churches including Willow Creek Community Church and is Professor of Spiritual Transformation at Northern Seminary.

Customer Reviews

Using this book as a bible study in a small group.
Elizabeth Chadwick
I am encouraged to explore developing (or discerning) a Rule for Life that will cultivate trust in God and love for others.
Shawn Shannon
All very solid, very real-life oriented and very readable.
saj

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

87 of 89 people found the following review helpful By C. Lee on January 21, 2008
Format: Hardcover
To be honest, I've gotten a little weary of books about spiritual disciplines. I always end up feeling guilty that I'm not more disciplined and perpetually struggle with having a consistent quiet time, after many years of being a Christian. Ruth Haley Barton cuts through all of that putting "discipline" (or "rule" or "rhythm" whatever you want to call it!) into the context of "desire," that we deeply long for God's transformation in our lives. She stresses that we cannot transform ourselves, only God can do that. But, we can arrange our lives in such a way that makes the conditions for transformation optimal. This book is extremely practical, gracious, and FREES you to seek God, rather than bind you to a set of rules. I highly, highly recommend it.
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33 of 34 people found the following review helpful By saj on October 16, 2008
Format: Hardcover
I borrowed a copy of Sacred Rhythms from the Pauline Bookstore sale shelf where I work (and live). I loved Barton's voice; her gentle style. The book itself is a kind of handbook on Christian spirituality: prayer, discernment, creating a spiritual "rule of life" (and even the examen of consciousness!). All very solid, very real-life oriented and very readable. But what was particularly interesting to me (a Catholic sister/nun) is how Barton, who was brought up in the Baptist tradition, makes this traditionally Catholic spirituality so approachable for non-Catholics, to whom the language may be much less familiar. Her writing is not so focused on a Protestant audience that a Catholic would be distracted or unable to relate. It's just a good, solid and balanced treatment of key issues in our life with God.
Barton deserves kudos for her treatment of the Sabbath in our Christian life, and her helpful explanation of how to create a "rule of life" that sets our life on course in a way that coincides with our life with God, not setting "prayer life" and "real life" on parallel tracks.
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38 of 43 people found the following review helpful By Mitali Perkins on January 4, 2007
Format: Hardcover
I have to confess that I'm just getting over a horrible "Been There, Read That" attitude when it comes to books about spiritual growth. That's why it came as a delightful surprise when (a) I couldn't put this book down, (b) I read several chapters again and again and used them to spur journal/prayer entries, and (c) I'm going to take it with me on my next overnight silent retreat. I especially enjoyed the reflections on discernment and self-examination. Thank you, IVP and Ruth Haley Barton, for this gem of a book.

(Note: I got the book at our public library, but have since purchased it as a gift for my sister and just ordered Barton's other book from IVP on solitude).
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11 of 11 people found the following review helpful By A.S. Blosser on May 8, 2009
Format: Hardcover
Not a bad book. I enjoyed some chapters more than others - I think my favorite was the Sabbath chapter. I do think we're in a culture of go-go-go, and it was good to be reminded that it's important to take time for ourselves. To take a nap, take a walk, do what you want to do on your Sabbath. No errands, no busyness - just time for yourself and your family.

My main problem with her was that she applied a lot of her experience to everything, as though each person's life will be similar to hers. Sometimes it overrode the message of the chapter, and made me want to skim ahead.

Still a decent book, though. Highly recommend the chapter on the Sabbath, as well as the one on honoring the body.
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13 of 14 people found the following review helpful By D. Miller on June 22, 2008
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
Ruth Haley Barton presents a clear and compelling description of the spiritual disciplines of solitude, lectio divina, centering/breath prayer, Ignatian examen (of consciousness and conscience), discernment, sabbath-keeping, and the Benedictine "rule of life." She opens the book with an invitation to explore the deep longings of your soul and name your desires before Christ. And she offers a wonderful chapter on the spirituality of learning to live in and care for our physical bodies. It was a powerful and life-chaning book for me -- particularly the chapters on solitude, honoring the body, and sabbath-keeping. Barton has a gentle heart and a gracious approach to the disciplines that is so inviting. This book was my part of my devotions for the last few weeks and I find that I will miss Barton's voice and vision and the possibilities that they have stirred in my soul. I recommend this book highly to anyone who is struggling with exhaustion or burn-out and wanting permission to dream of rest.
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8 of 8 people found the following review helpful By Mimi on June 24, 2008
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
This was one of the most helpful books on the Christian spiritual disciplines I have ever read. Barton leads her reader through the astonishing basis for all spiritual disciplines, the foundational principles for each discipline she discusses, and an extremely helpful step-by-step practice of each discipline. It is a book one should slowly work through, rather than read quickly. Barton helped me revitalize my spiritual practices.
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9 of 10 people found the following review helpful By Laurence T. Baxter VINE VOICE on June 17, 2009
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
The subtitle of the book sums up the aim for readers - how to arrange our lives around the goal of spiritual transformation, and why this is a worthy pursuit. Barton's style is very conversational and straight-forward. It covers some deep material in a very clear and encouraging way. She starts off describing a bit of her own spiritual journey and longing for spiritual transformation. We're not alone in finding that spiritual disciplines (or any activity) done for the wrong reasons can take us in the opposite direction we seek, further away from God and discouraged. Yet there is another way, seeking the presence of God and opening ourselves to His work in our lives that can truly transform us.

Barton covers seven vital spiritual disciplines and for each describes a fresh way to engage. For example, for scripture reading she describes an ancient practice of devotional reading (lectio divina) that is quite different from your average quiet time. Other disciplines include solitude, prayer, honoring the body, self-examination, discernment, and honoring the Sabbath. The author also points out the downside of not engaging in these practices. It is easy in our busy schedules to avoid solitude and Sabbath rest, but it is to our detriment. The final chapter is a highlight of the book. She discusses a "rule of life" (as it is classically known), which she terms `cultivating rhythms for spiritual transformation. This addresses the practical question of how to put these things in practice, how to make them a natural and inviting part of your life.

The appendices provide some very helpful additional material. There are notes on how to take this journey with other people, lead a small group exploring these disciplines, and how to choose spiritual disciplines that fit our needs. These together help us focus our efforts better, and there is definitely great encouragement and support in practicing these disciplines and discussing them with others on the journey.
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