Learning about Spiritual Life from Christians throughout the Ages

Washington Allston,  Elijah in the Desert , 1818.

Washington Allston, Elijah in the Desert, 1818.

For the six weeks before Easter, we’re focusing on spiritual life. We’ve repeatedly challenged ourselves to intercede on behalf of others and to be often in the presence of God. Since many of us have trouble knowing how to do this, we spend many Sundays teaching what the scriptures show us about how to pray, read the scriptures, and interact with God.

But in addition to searching the scriptures, we can also make use of the gift God has given us in other Christians. In other words, we can read the classics of Christian spirituality to learn about spiritual life from those who have gone before us. These works may not be perfect or canonical, and we may disagree with them on some theological points—but that doesn’t mean they’re entirely worthless. In fact, I continue to find great encouragement for my own spiritual life from them. These voices from the past have helped me know how to follow Jesus in practical, everyday ways, how to listen to Him in all things, how to love Him above all else, and how to understand much of the scriptures. They stir my heart in a way that little else, outside from scripture itself, has ever been able to do.

Your spiritual life might be greatly improved by reading these too. In case you’re interested, here are a few titles that I’ve enjoyed:

(Of course, lists like this could go on and on, but we should stop somewhere, even though we haven’t yet mentioned the spiritual and devotional works of Gregory of Nyssa, Hildegard of Bingen, Catherine of Siena, St John of the Cross, Thomas a Kempis, John Bunyan, Oswald Chambers, or many other major authors.)