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Spiritual Disciplines Handbook: Practices That Transform Us Paperback – November 19, 2005


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Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

Starred Review. This discussion of spiritual practices that have defined Christians over the centuries certainly lives up to its name. Sixty-two spiritual disciplines or practices are explained, grouped in seven themes, including worship, prayer, sharing life with others, hearing God's word and listening to God's voice. Calhoun, a pastor of spiritual formation at Christ Church in Oak Brook, Ill., writes as one who has lovingly studied, appreciated and collected some of the most influential Christian spiritual material over many years. Her language and style are respectful to Christians from many traditions—Orthodox, Catholic, reformed and evangelical. Readers could dip into this handbook at any theme or practice and find enough prayer and reflection suggestions to keep them engaged in holy mystery for a long time. The practices range from personal and introspective, such as engaging in silence and solitude, to extroverted and service-oriented, as in stewardship and care of the earth. Calhoun also offers a multitude of options for companionship—spiritual direction, a mentor, accountability partners, prayer partners, spiritual friendship and small groups. This handbook is a treasure of "tried and true" spiritual practices written well enough for everyone from the novice to the master to use. (Nov.)
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Review

"A practical guide to a wide range of disciplines from the classical practices of prayer, worship, meditation, and scripture study to more contemporary disciplines such as mentoring, journaling, unplugging, and accountability partners. A readable and accessible introduction to the practice of the spiritual disciplines." (Elizabeth R. Pearson, The Christian Librarian, vol. 52, 2009)

"Encourages and challenges individuals with its specificity and personal tone. Welcome by anyone wishing to enhance life through discipline--especially spiritual discipline." (Carolyn Egolf, Congregational Libraries Today, January/February 2007)

"For readers seeking to go deeper into the Christian life, or find renewal, or healing, or fresh insight, Calhoun's handbook will be a needed guide. Both the new Christian and the battle-worn veteran will find thoughtful, original paths to improve their walk with God." (Jim Miller, pastor, Vineyard Church, Nacogdoches, Texas, in the Lufkin Daily News, May 5, 2007)

"[The book] gives a wide range of practices that can prove helpful for anyone." (Anita Cain, Aspiring Retail, March 2006)

"A treasure of tried and true spiritual practices written well enough for everyone from the novice to the master to use." (Publishers Weekly, September 26, 2005 (starred review))

"We are living at a time when the Prostestant church is rediscovering the truth that transformation in Christ occurs through the disciplines of formation. Finally, Adele Calhoun has pulled all of these together into one volume, complete with clear definitions and practices of a variety of ways that God uses to grow our lives. No longer do you have to root through scattered pieces of paper, nor a chapter here and there to get the big picture of the tried and true disciplines. This is one resource you will want to have at your fingertips." (Greg Ogden, executive pastor of discipleship, Christ Church of Oak Brook, and author of Discipleship Essentials and Transforming Discipleship)

"I love this book! Adele has provided a treasure trove of spiritual disciplines that will nourish your soul, striking a delicate balance between accessibility and depth that comes from her own faithful practice. Read it, engage the disciplines, and allow God to transform you in the deepest levels of your being." (Ruth Haley Barton, cofounder, The Transforming Center, and author of Sacred Rhythms and Invitation to Solitude and Silence)

"I have long profited from Adele Ahlberg Calhoun's gifts in the field of spiritual development, and I am delighted that she has compiled her experience with spiritual disciplines into book form. I highly recommend it and I look forward to using it as a resource at our church." (Dr. Timothy Keller, Redeemer Presbyterian Church, NYC)
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Product Details

  • Paperback: 293 pages
  • Publisher: IVP Books (November 19, 2005)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0830833307
  • ISBN-13: 978-0830833306
  • Product Dimensions: 7 x 0.9 x 10 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 15.2 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.8 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (80 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #8,546 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

More About the Author

Adele Ahlberg Calhoun (M.A., Gordon-Conwell Theological Seminary) currently copastors Redeemer Community in Wellesley, Massachusetts, with her husband, Doug. She was formerly Pastor of Spiritual Formation at Christ Church in Oak Brook, Illinois.

A trained spiritual director, she has taught courses at Wheaton College and Northern Baptist Theological Seminary. In the early 1970s she helped pioneer student work with the International Fellowship of Evangelical Students in Southeast Asia and the Middle East. She has also worked with InterVarsity Christian Fellowship in New England and Canada and with the International Fellowship of Evangelical Students in the West Indies and South Africa.

Customer Reviews

4.8 out of 5 stars

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

61 of 63 people found the following review helpful By K. Parsons on July 24, 2006
Format: Paperback
As a pastor, I have read many books on spiritual development and growth. As a Christian seeking to grow spiritually, I have read even more. Like a previous reviewer, I would place this book on par with Richard Foster or Dallas Willard--perhaps even higher because it is so very accessible. I am particularly taken with the way in which the author links a person's natural desires with his or her best choice of disciplines. As all Christians know, it is easier to read about spiritual disciplines than practice them, and I have certainly been guilty of that. However, in the weeks since I bought Calhoun's book, I have read very little. Rather, I have been PRACTICING. And that says it all. Phenomenal!
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15 of 15 people found the following review helpful By Brad Kenney on March 22, 2006
Format: Paperback
As a chaplain in hospice care and for a professional sports team I am always looking for books that synthesize larger topics or "weightier" works and bring practical applications to the forefront.

Calhoun's contribution does an excellent job of presenting (succinctly) the necessary introductions into the spiritual formation practices that have been a part of the church for so many years. The greatest advantage for myself is the ability to use this book as a launch pad into other parts of the community that cover the various disciplines in greater depth or detail. And the practical aspects of the book make this a necessary purchase!

This book is a must read for lay leaders, an excellent resource for pastoral leaders, and a welcome addition to any church, school, seminary, or personal library.
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16 of 17 people found the following review helpful By Laurence T. Baxter VINE VOICE on June 17, 2009
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
Calhoun's book is unlike any other in this area. Although it starts like others describing what spiritual disciplines are and why they are useful, the direction Calhoun takes is completely different. Her emphasis is very strongly on helping us express our desire to draw near to God, and to provide a number of practices to try which may help with this goal. The book is essentially a `catalog' of spiritual disciplines, arranged around seven themes with the acronym WORSHIP - Worship, Open Myself to God, Relinquish the False Self, Share My Life with Others, Hear God's Word, Incarnate the Love of Christ, and Pray. For each area there are about a half-dozen disciplines (e.g. prayer includes breath prayer, centering prayer, contemplative prayer, fasting, liturgical prayer, prayer walking and others). For each discipline there is a helpful chart which provides a definition, states the desire or goal, shares some scripture verses, a summary of what the practice involves, and the God-given fruit that can come. For each there are also reflection questions (for yourself or group study), spiritual exercises, and a list of related resources for more information. Linear-thinkers or those with a more analytical bent may want to also read other books on spiritual disciplines, as several of these cannot be adequately addressed in a few pages.

The author does a fantastic job balancing two objectives: to serve as a spiritual friend encouraging the reader to listen to their God-given desires to draw near to Him and point the reader in a good direction to fulfill these holy desires; and yet provide a thorough encyclopedic reference for the spiritual disciplines.
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21 of 23 people found the following review helpful By L. Richardson on February 6, 2006
Format: Paperback
Adele Calhoun has done a masterful job exploring and expanding our minds in the realm of the spiritual disciplines. This book is accessible and, at the same time, contains a depth of perspective and spirituality--quite a remarkable combination. I believe this is the best book on the spiritual disciplines written since Richard Foster's Celebration of Discipline, first published 25 years ago.
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10 of 11 people found the following review helpful By L.L. Barkat on April 28, 2006
Format: Paperback
If you want to "keep company with Jesus", Adele Calhoun points the way, through classic and modern spiritual disciplines. The disciplines, she explains, can give God's Holy Spirit opportunity to hover over our hearts-- just as he hovered dove-like over the waters at creation.

For readers seeking to go deeper into Christian life, or find renewal, or healing, or fresh insight, Calhoun's handbook will be a welcome guide. From Gratitude to Celebration, Prayer to Unplugging, and more, both the new Christian and the veteran will find thoughtful, original paths to walk with God.
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5 of 5 people found the following review helpful By Deborah Mitchell on January 28, 2008
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
This book is a valuable resource with spiritual exercises which enhance spiritual formation. I'd highly recommend it for ministers, counselors, pastors, spiritual directors/mentors and small group leaders. Exercises can be used in a group or with individuals.
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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful By Shane Fookes on November 10, 2006
Format: Paperback
Adele Ahlberg Calhoun does the world a great favor with this handbook. She takes the often esoteric world of spiritual disciplines and provides a means to meaningfully engage them. However, she does this without diminishing the disciplines by making them easy "steps to maturity" or the like. This book is accessable. It can be followed from front-to-back, or simply used to engage specific disciplines. Anyone who takes the Bible seriously sees the importance of spiritual discipline in the life of mature followers of Jesus. This handbook is the place to start on such a path.
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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful By Rev Bitting on May 1, 2007
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
We have been using this book as a basis for a Lenten Study Group on Spiritual Disciplines. The laity and myself have found it to be engaging and like the format which suggests practical applications for each spiritual discipline. GREAT BOOK!
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