“Habits of Grace” = Spiritual Disciplines

“The means of grace fill our tank for the pursuit of joy, for the good of others, and for the glory of God. . . .

And they are spiritual blessings—not mere disciplines, but channels through which God gives us spiritual food for our survival, growth, and flourishing in the mission.”

– David Mathis

Another book on spiritual disciplines?

I hadn’t planned on picking this one up. I’ve read several books already on the spiritual disciplines (very good ones too), but I know enough that sometimes you need to lay the books aside and just DO the disciplines.

Well, I’m glad I changed my mind.


Habits of Grace deserved to be read precisely so that I will practice the disciplines more.

“Spiritual growth is a marvelous effect of such practices, but in a sense it is only a side effect. The heart is knowing and enjoying Jesus.”
– David Mathis

Simple Structure

Author David Mathis doesn’t claim this is a be-all, end-all book about spiritual disciplines. Instead, he focuses on three main areas:

1. Hearing God’s Voice (Word)

  • Reading the Bible
  • Preaching the Gospel
  • Bible Memory

2. Having God’s Ear (Prayer)

  • Private Prayer
  • Praying with Company
  • Journaling

3. Belonging to God’s Body (Fellowship)

  • Lessons in Listening
  • Benefits of Corporate Worship
  • Grace at the Table


Mathis is incredibly practical in each area, giving tips on a variety of ways to walk through each discipline. If you like numbered lists (I do), you’ll love his writing style.


Maybe this isn’t important for everyone, but I really, really loved the humility in Mathis’ writing voice (and his videos I’ve watched–-sign up here for 5 free email videos; they’re good!). He doesn’t claim to be know it all and he doesn’t declare that each discipline must be performed a certain way or even at all. He is gentle in his tone and thus encouraging instead of patronizing or guilt-inducing.


Grace is what I hear in this book and that’s exactly what I need to live out these different habits, not to earn a relationship with God, but to keep our relationship active and fresh and powerful.

As with any book, I didn’t agree with everything, but I agreed with more than enough to recommend it as a useful guide to anyone wanting to grow in simple, daily habits of blessing in their walk with Jesus and others.

Quotes by David Mathis in Habits of Grace

“The Bible is gloriously for us, but it is not mainly about us. We come most deeply because of whom we will see, not for what we must do.”

~ * ~ * ~

“Scripture memory, at its best, is about feeding your soul today and mapping your life and mind onto the very life and mind of God.”

~ * ~ * ~

He is even more ready to hear us than we are to pray.”

~ * ~ * ~

“This is the heart of prayer— not getting things from God, but getting God.”

~ * ~ * ~

“Nowhere does Scripture command that we keep a journal. Unlike other spiritual disciplines, Jesus left us no model for journaling; he did not keep one. Journaling is not essential to the Christian life. But it is a powerful opportunity, especially with the technologies we have available today.”

~ * ~ * ~

Solitude is a kind of companion to fellowship, a fasting from other people, to make our return to them all the better. And silence is a fasting from noise and talk, to improve our listening and speaking.”

~ * ~ * ~

“Worship is an end in itself. We do not eat the feast of worship as a means to anything else. Happiness in God [which is the heart of worship] is the end of all our seeking. Nothing beyond it can be sought as a higher goal.”

~ * ~ * ~

“The secret of joy in corporate worship is not only self-forgetfulness—or to put it positively, preoccupation with Jesus and his glory—but also the happy awareness that we are not alone in having our souls satisfied in him.”

~ * ~ * ~

“It is loving (to others) to regularly commune with God. There are good horizontal effects to having our souls established and flourishing vertically.”

~ * ~ * ~

“You will be a better spouse and parent and friend and cousin and child and neighbor if your soul is being routinely shaped and sustained by a real relationship with God in his word and prayer. Sometimes, the most loving thing we can do is get away from people for a few minutes, feed our souls on God and his goodness, and come back to our families and communities reenergized for anticipating and meeting others’ needs.”

~ * ~ * ~

“Knowing and enjoying Jesus is the final end of hearing his voice, having his ear, and belonging to his body.”

* * *

Which spiritual discipline do you practice the most? Do you have a favorite book on spiritual disciplines? Please share in the comments.

Thanks to Crossway
for the review copy of this book

13 thoughts on ““Habits of Grace” = Spiritual Disciplines

  1. Dawn

    This is the second review I have read on this book, Lisa, and I am interested in taking time to read it even more now. Habits of grace… I am talking about that a lot lately… like wearing grace. It is a habit that we can learn to put on grace by choosing to remember who we belong to. I’ve been pondering that more. If we know where and who we belong to, understanding we have been giving abundant heaped and overflowing grace…then it will be easier to practice the habit of doing the same for others.

    Thanks for sharing the book.

  2. bekahcubed

    This sounds like a helpful book. I’ll be putting it on my TBR list.

    I’ve been focusing on prayer – and on memorizing some of Paul’s prayers – this year. It has been both challenging and encouraging to study D.A. Carson’s Praying with Paul in my weekly Bible study along with my personal emphasis on prayer this year.

      1. Lynn D. Morrissey

        Tx for letting m e know, Lisa. And good for you about not throwing them away. What a treasure they are. And yes, I’d read that post–great ideas, all.

  3. Pam

    Gosh, Lisa, this book sounds excellent!! I have also read a fair amount about spiritual disciplines, but I very much like the way he writes as well as what he is saying. My book list keeps growing!! Thanks so much!

  4. Jean Wise

    wow this sounds like one I have to get. Thanks. Journaling is still one of the best practices I have – written prayer, discernment and quieting my heart to hear God. Centering prayer too. praying you have a blessed Easter.

  5. David

    Dear Lisa

    This does sound very good. Interesting that it mentions praying in company and corporate worship. I very much enjoyed my sample of that last summer.


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