In a class titled "Practicing Prayer and Other Key Spiritual Disciplines" taught by Professor Steve Korch, I was assigned "CELEBRATION OF DISCIPLINE: The Path to Spiritual Growth" by Richard Foster, a book I had previously read but could probably revisit once a year and still glean amazing insights until the day I die.
I was first introduced to "Celebration of Discipline" during a college camp retreat back in the late 90s when a guest speaker named Jorge preached from various chapters of Foster's contemporary classic. I can't recall a single thing Jorge said, but I do remember that he kept encouraging us to get this book, so I did right away after that camp (bought it from Harvest Bookstore in SF...and you can too!). I was forever changed by the way Foster approached the idea of Christian spirituality.
What are spiritual disciplines? Foster categorizes 12 disciplines into three groups: Inward, Outward, and Corporate disciplines:
- Inward (meditation, prayer, fasting, study)
- Outward (simplicity, solitude, submission, service)
- Corporate (confession, worship, guidance, celebration)
The Spiritual disciplines are by no means supposed to become an effort-driven, legalistic, formulaic recipe for Biblical success. In fact, they are intended to remind and refocus our lives around the Lord in such a way that we become totally and utterly dependent and satisfied on Him alone.
In his chapter on Worship, Foster writes:
+ "Worship is the human response to the divine initiative" (158).
+ "Until God touches and frees our spirit we cannot enter this realm. Singing, praying, praising all may lead to worship, but worship is more than any of them. Our spirit must be ignited by the divine fire" (159).
+ Quoting A.W. Tozer, Foster writes: “The essence of idolatry is the entertainment of thoughts about God that are unworthy of Him” (159).
+ "The divine priority is worship first, service second. Our lives are to be punctuated with praise, thanksgiving, and adoration. Service flows out of worship. Service as a substitute for worship is idolatry. Activity is the enemy of adoration" (161).
+ "When we are truly gathered into worship, things occur that could never occur alone. There is the psychology of the group to be sure, and yet it is so much more; it is divine interpenetration. There is what the biblical writers called koinonia, deep inward fellowship in the power of the Spirit" (164).
+ "Genuine worship has only one Leader, Jesus Christ…Christ is the Leader of worship in the sense that he alone decides what human means will be used, if any. Individuals preach or prophesy or sing or pray as they are called forth by their Leader. In this way there is no room for the elevation of private reputations. Jesus alone is honored. As our living Head calls them forth, any or all of the gifts of the Spirit can be freely exercised and gladly received" (165).
+ "There is nothing more quickening than Spirit-inspired preaching, nothing more deadening than human-inspired preaching" (166).
+ "If worship does not propel us into greater obedience, it has not been worship. To stand before the Holy One of eternity is to change" (173).