Is Worship Boring? (part 2)

I was interviewed about how to respond when someone claims that attending worship at church is boring. This is the second of two posts based on that interview. The first is available here.

If people are bored in church, is that a problem with the church or with the individuals?

As I’ve already mentioned, if people are unconverted then the problem is with them. Since “no one can [sincerely] say, ‘Jesus is Lord’ except by the Holy Spirit” (1 Cor. 12:3), no unconverted person can truly worship, no matter how the service is conducted. Therefore not only is it a mistake to plan worship for those who cannot worship, it is also a mistake to ask those who cannot worship to evaluate our worship services. Otherwise it’s like planning an art exhibit according to the preferences of the blind.

Second, as I also said above, the problem of boredom in worship is also the fault of the individual if he or she is not thoughtful about what is proclaimed. People who do not want to love God with all their minds during a worship service will probably be bored. The proper observance of the Lord’s Supper, for instance, requires deliberation. Without thought about its meaning, the mere ingestion of the elements may not only be boring, but sinful. The pursuit of God in worship is worthy of our best attention and mental efforts.

Third, boredom is also the problem of the individual if his or her expectations are unrealistic. We should remember that those who lead worship “are dust” (Ps. 103:14) too. They likely have many other ministry responsibilities in addition to leading worship (though few are as important). To expect the leaders of most local churches to “produce” events every seven days that can capture our interest at the same level as do the teams of highly resourced professionals on TV and in the movies with all their special effects we watch each week is unrealistic.

But if Godly, mature, Word-hungry followers of Jesus are consistently bored in worship, the worship leaders need to take a great deal of the responsibility.

How do you train future church leaders to preach and otherwise “do church” without being boring?

You ask about training them to preach. I am not a professor of preaching, but I believe that the greatest need of the church is always for men of God to preach the Word of God in the power of the Spirit of God. (By the way, I know those who teach preaching at four of our SBC seminaries, and they all strive for this.) When this is done, God’s people find it extremely satisfying, not boring. Sheep love sheep food.

In my classes on Biblical Spirituality I am training future church leaders, mostly about being Godly people and shepherding others to grow in Godliness. But occasionally I teach classes on worship, as well as speak in church conferences on worship.

There I advocate evaluating every element of the worship service by whether each is God-centered and Biblical. Worship is, by definition, the worship of God. If the worship leader makes God the focus of every part of the service, and present God to the congregation in the ways He has revealed Himself in Scripture, God’s people will find Him alluring and captivating.

And I urge them to ensure that every element in the worship service is Biblical. By that I mean that for every line item in the order of service they should be able to find clear support in Scripture for making that activity a part of worship. Otherwise that element should not be part of the worship service (though it may have a legitimate place elsewhere in the life of the church).

So, for instance, we know preaching should be part of public worship because there is a command to preach the Word of God (2 Tim. 4:2) and there are examples of preaching that occur during  gatherings of believers in the New Testament. We should sing Psalms and other Scripture-saturated music in worship because, among other reasons, believers are twice urged in the New Testament to sing “psalms and hymns and spiritual songs” (Eph. 5:18; Col. 3:16).

Although not alone in this, Baptists, going as far back as their first (1644) and also to their most influential (1689) confession of faith, have agreed that worship should be only as “prescribed in Holy Scripture.” This, I believe, is what it means to “worship in truth” (John 4:24), that is, according to the truth of Scripture. If we will deliberately include in worship only those elements that are God-centered and “prescribed in Holy Scripture,” and present them in the right spirit, I believe God’s people will find worship nourishing, and rarely boring. Spiritual life and light are not boring, and these come to us only when we focus on God through Christ and feast upon Him through His written self-revelation

I realize this goes counter to the trends in many evangelical churches today, and stands against the hurricane of our entertainment-oriented culture. Add to this the numbers of unconverted people who may be active members and such a reformation in worship will be difficult to accomplish in many situations. But all reformation begins with teaching, and I would recommend such a path to a pastor before he overhauls the order of service.

A large percentage of evangelical churches in America are plateaued or declining. Can that be attributed, in part, to people finding church to be boring?

In part, yes—at least theoretically. Personally I think there are more and greater reasons than this, such as the erosion of insisting upon a regenerate church membership. Second, I think it has more to do with a lack of Biblical preaching than we’d like to admit.

But if we want to focus specifically upon whether the worship event as a whole has contributed to so many churches plateauing or declining, I would say it has more to do with whether each part of the service is God-centered and Biblical than it does with whether the leaders’ have sufficiently worked to make worship “interesting.”


What do you think when someone says that worship is boring?


Is Worship Boring?

Some time ago I was interviewed about how to respond when someone claims that attending worship at church is boring. This is the first of two posts based on that interview.

What is your response when you hear someone say, “Church is boring?”

My first response is to ask, “Why do you say that?” For starters, even the most God-pleasing worship service would likely bore the unconverted person, whether they profess to be a Christian or not. “The natural person,” the Bible makes plain in 1 Cor. 2:14, “does not accept the things of the Spirit of God, for they are folly to him, and he is not able to understand them because they are spiritually discerned.”

In light of this, and in view of the fact that many who attend church are not true believers, I would expect church to seem boring to many people. They do not possess the God-given, spiritual capacity to find the satisfaction, nourishment, and refreshment in worship as do those indwelled by the Spirit of God.

If I am confident that a person is genuinely converted and still they say, “Church is boring,” then I want to ask about their expectations and determine if they are reasonable ones.

Beyond that, I would ask about the particulars of the service, trying to discern if the worship leadership is seeking to promote “worship in spirit and truth?” (as Jesus put it in John 4:24).

Should “boring” ever be a term used to describe church? Why or why not?

Sadly, sometimes “boring” is an appropriate term. There is such a thing as dead orthodoxy. To refer to John 4:24 again, worship that is done “in truth” but not “in spirit” is heartless and potentially boring. To present the endlessly satisfying and perpetually fascinating God who is “holy, holy, holy” to His worshipers in such a way that does not call for “reverence and awe” (Heb. 12:28) is deplorable.

In my own case I’ve found that the immediate cause of boredom in worship is usually thoughtlessness on my own part. If I do not focus on and think about what I am encountering in the service, I may be bored, but it’s my own fault.

If God is presented faithfully to me in worship, that is, if the Word of God is read, if the songs we sing are true to Scripture and point Godward, and if the sermon faithfully proclaims the Bible, then enough of God’s revelation is present to capture my attention. I cannot sit back, fold my arms, and wait for the worship leaders to stimulate or entertain me. That’s not their job. Their job is to present God to me, to magnify and exalt God and the gospel of Jesus Christ. And if I am seeking God, they will make it easy for me to encounter Him and to find Him fascinating, not boring.

The old adage about horses has application to worshipers here: you can lead a worshiper to God, but you can’t make him worship. God forbid, however, that the worship leaders themselves appear thoughtless and unmoved about the God they are presenting to the worshipers.

And yet, I’m reluctant to allow the use of the term “boring” as a possible descriptor of worship. Doing so may be merely reflecting the values of a society that places such a high priority on amusement that the most common word of blessing on someone going out the door is “Have fun” or “Have a good time,” and the most condescending evaluative curse is, “That was soooo boring.”

To permit worship to be analyzed on a “boredom scale” is to use the wrong measuring rod. To call worship “boring” could imply that we can evaluate it in the same way that we appraise movies, TV shows, and other forms of entertainment. It also puts pressure upon the worship leaders to focus on making worship more exciting or interesting rather than considering it upon more explicitly Biblical grounds.

This interview will be continued in the next post.

Ask, and You Will Receive Something Good

One way to simplify your prayer life is simply to ask. Perhaps more often than we realize, we want God to do something for us or to give something to us, and yet we haven’t actually asked Him for it. “You do not have,” says James 4:3 “because you do not ask.” The failure to ask is not the only reason we do not have, for the Bible has many other things to say about what we should ask for and why we should ask. In fact, in the very next verse we read, “You ask and do not receive, because you ask amiss, that you may spend it on your pleasures.”

Even so, Jesus made some remarkable promises about simply asking of God in prayer. In the Sermon on the Mount He assured, “Ask, and it will be given to you; seek, and you will find; knock, and it will be opened to you. For everyone who asks receives, and he who seeks finds, and to him who knocks it will be opened” (Matthew 7:7-8).

While any passage on prayer needs to be placed in the context of the entire Bible’s teaching on the subject, it’s easy to add so many biblical qualifiers to this broad promise that we end up doubting it more than believing it. But rather than discourage us from asking, Jesus emphasizes three times what “will” result from asking, seeking, and knocking at the door of Heaven. Then to further embolden us, He promises that “everyone” who asks receives” [emphasis added].

Of course, we may not receive exactly what we ask for. (And I thank God for this when I remember some of the things I’ve requested.) But we will receive something good. For Jesus continued, “Or what man is there among you who, if his son asks for bread, will give him a stone? Or if he asks for a fish, will he give him a serpent? If you then, being evil, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will your Father who is in heaven give good things to those who ask Him?” (verses 9-11).

Because God is good, He will give “good things” to all who ask Him. We do not know what they are or when He will give them, for the “good thing” given in answer to many prayers will be seen only in Heaven. But Jesus says, “ask.” Simply ask, and you will receive something good.


This material originally appeared in Donald S. Whitney, Simplify Your Spiritual Life (Colorado Springs, CO: NavPress, 2003), 76-77.

From Apple Watch to iMplant?

I am always on the lookout for ways to use technology to serve and cultivate biblical spirituality. For instance, I use my phone to listen to Max McLean read Scripture via The Listener’s Bible, pray through a passage of Scripture using the Olive Tree Bible Study App, work on Scripture memory with the Fighter Verses app, and listen to podcasts, like that of the president of the seminary where I teach, Dr. Albert Mohler.

I also commend the use of the Day One app for journaling, the Flashcards Deluxe app for prayer lists, and the Logos Bible Software app for on-the-go access to study resources. And, of course, just about every believer with a smartphone or tablet uses apps like Kindle, iBooks, and GoodReader to read Christian books.

So I am very interested  to see whether the new Apple Watch can be a beneficial piece of technology. On the one hand (no pun intended), before the announcement I really didn’t think I’d have much interest in a Apple Watchsmartwatch. On the other hand, I know that Apple has a way of developing and marketing products that you never thought you could use until you saw them.

I remember the 2010 Apple TV ad for the iPhone 4, which was the first to feature FaceTime. At exactly the ten-second mark in that commercial I said out loud, “I’ll buy that.” For you see, I’m just like the guy in the hotel room in that commercial. I’m the guy often away from his wife and daughter (who was then at least fifteen years older than the baby girl in this ad) and calling home from the loneliness of a hotel room. When that little girl smiles in perfect time to Louis Armstrong’s “When Your Smiling,” and her dad sees that smile light up his phone in a hotel room, I’m sold.

Before that commercial I wasn’t interested in upgrading my phone.I remember the competing Android ad at the time did less than nothing to make me want to switch. It showed robotic arms in a dark room creating phones while a robotic voice buzzed “Droiiiidd.” But exactly ten seconds into this iPhone commercial I’m ready to run down to the Apple Store and get one. Why? It was technology that could bless me with the face of my wife and daughter when I’m away from home.

So I’ll be interested to see if Apple can show me something in the months before the launch of its watch to make it appear irresistible. But in any case, I’ve been thinking about the Apple Watch a little differently than I did with previous blockbuster products. It doesn’t rule out the possibility I’ll get one, but it has made me a little more thoughtful about what the Apple Watch may portend about the future.

In the concluding lines of the cover story of the September 22, 2014, Time magazine, authors Lev Grossman and Matt Vella wrote:

The Apple Watch represents a redrawing of the map that locates technology in one place and our bodies in another. The line between the two will never be as easy to find again. Once you’re O.K. with wearing technology, the only way forward is inward: the next product launch after the Apple Watch would logically be the iMplant. If Apple succeeds in legitimizing wearables as a category, it will have established the founding node in a network that could spread throughout our bodies, with Apple setting the standards. Then we’ll really have to decide how much control we want–and what we’re prepared to give up for it (“iNeed?”, p. 47).

It’s important to realize that at no point in their lengthy article did Grossman and Vella make any reference whatsoever to the Bible, prophecy, or eschatology. Unwittingly, however, the final lines of their piece raises the eyebrows of anyone familiar with the last chapters of the Bible.

Revelation 13 introduces a terrible apocalyptic figure considered just a notch lower than Satan himself: the beast. In verses 16-18, in what is undoubtedly one of the most frequently-mentioned sections of the book, are these words about the beast: “Also it causes all, both small and great, both rich and poor, both free and slave, to be marked on the right hand or the forehead, so that no one can buy or sell unless he has the mark, that is, the name of the beast or the number of its name. This calls for wisdom: let the one who has understanding calculate the number of the beast, for it is the number of a man, and his number is 666.”

The day the Apple Watch was announced, one of my seminary colleagues and I were recalling the angst experienced by many Christians when bar codes were first becoming common. There was much hand-wringing among those who took the Bible seriously about whether bar codes could be the Mark of the Beast referred to in Revelation 13:16-18. Soon each person would have their own personal ID bar code tattooed on their hand or forehead and no one could buy or sell without it, so the speculation went. Granted, the bar code scenario was probably the most reasonable, real-life possibility involving the Mark of the Beast that had ever come along. After all, bar codes were beginning to appear on almost everything and it wasn’t difficult to imagine sticking your hand under a scanner to pay for all the groceries that had just passed under the same scanner.

But the fears of bar code tattoos never materialized even though bar codes are used more widely than ever. As many reading this have done, I’ve even scanned bar codes with an app on my phone in order to compare the price of an item in a store with the same item at another store or online. But when you envision every last person on earth getting a bar code tattoo in order to buy or sell, there’s still a big technology lag that has to be overcome for that to happen. A whole lot of people in the world can’t get electricity or even clean drinking water in their area, much less a bar code reader installed in every tiny shop and store on earth.

Where things get a little more interesting with the Apple Watch, however, is that at the September 9 product launch, Apple CEO Tim Cook also announced Apple Pay, which some believe may be the most world-changing Apple Payproduct of the event. A retailer installs a small device which can receive radio waves emitted from your Apple Watch (or iPhone). To pay for an item you simply bring the iWatch near the reader. Money from your bank account or credit card then transfers to the seller’s account.

When you consider the certainty of the further miniaturization of the kinds of technology Apple introduced with the Apple Watch and Apple Pay, and the certainty of more implantation of miniature technology into the human body (which is already a common practice), a world described by Grossman and Vella, as well as in Revelation 13 doesn’t seem so implausible.

It still may be a long, long time before virtually every person on the planet–including the millions born into poor, rural settings far from any hospital and modern technology–receives an implant that will be necessary to buy and sell in their remote village, even if you factor in the ubiquity of satellite technology to which such implants might connect. And many Bible-believing scholars of both premillennial and amillennial perpsectives acknowledge that the mark of the beast may not necessarily be a physical feature, “though [it] may be that,” but it may “symbolize the spiritual control of heart allegiance and behavior” (ESV Study Bible).

Moreover, notice carefully what Revelation 13:16-18 says and doesn’t say. It doesn’t say that the mark of the beast is an individual’s ID number (like a Social Security number) or even some technological identifier that transmits vital data about you, rather “the mark” is “the name of the beast or the number of its name.” The mark of the beast is the mark of the beast, not a mark about you.

So is the Apple Watch the mark of the beast? No. Is it the very next step before the mark of the beast? I seriously doubt it. But it does show us the feasibility of such a world where product developers say, “People don’t want another gadget to take with them, to charge every night, to keep track of, and worry that it will get lost or stolen, so why don’t we just shrink the technology into a chip we can insert under their skin or laser it on their arm so that it’s always with them?”

Sometime in 2015 I may very well be wearing an Apple Watch. But if I do, I’m sure it will often remind me that whether some future version of an iMplant is the mark of the beast or not, the Bible says that a day is coming where the mark of the beast–whatever it is–will be a reality. And our confidence today of what the mark of the beast is not doesn’t change the fact that one day God’s people will have no doubt about the identity of the mark of the beast and will reject it, even at the cost of their lives. They will do so because of the persevering grace of God given to them, and because of their love for and faith in Jesus, the lion and lamb of Revelation, the King of kings and Lord of lords.

My pastor’s reflections after a 40-day fast

Fasting is perhaps the most feared as well as the most misunderstood of the spiritual disciplines.

We fear fasting because we don’t want to feel hungry. We misunderstand it because of the famine of biblical teaching on the subject. When was the last time you heard a sermon or saw an article on fasting?

Perhaps the main reason we don’t hear much about fasting, even in churches where the Bible is believed and taught, is because it isn’t practiced. After all, it’s hard to be a vigorous advocate of something you don’t do. It’s one thing to exhort people to meditate on Scripture or to pray even though inconsistency sometimes marks your own practice of these disciplines. But it’s another thing to preach about fasting when you never fast.

To a much lesser degree it’s probably also true that we don’t hear about fasting because Jesus taught us in Matthew 6:16-18 to fast in a way that “may not be seen by others but by your Father who is in secret.” The context of that makes plain that what Jesus was condemning was the kind of fasting practiced by the Pharisees where they played up their suffering so that people would be impressed by their supposed piety.

But that doesn’t mean it’s necessarily wrong for people to know that you fast anymore than it is wrong for people to know that you read the Bible and pray. The motive and the purpose behind your talking about your spiritual disciplines is what matters. Done properly, we teach one another a great deal from our experiences with these biblical practices.

It is in that spirit that my pastor, Ryan Fullerton of Immanuel Baptist Church in Louisville, KY, posted these reflections following a 40-day fast.

I, for one, am grateful to have a pastor willing to discipline himself for the purpose of Godliness (1 Timothy 4:7) in this biblical way, and for his commitment to be an example and teacher to his flock in these things.

I would commend to you each of the materials on fasting from which Pastor Fullerton quotes. Also, I present a survey of the Bible’s teaching on fasting in chapter nine of Spiritual Disciplines for the Christian Life. Mentioned are the various kinds of biblical fasts, the expectation of Jesus that His followers would fast, the importance of having one of the biblical purposes behind your fast, and many practical recommendations for fasts of various lengths.

What resources have you found helpful in the practice of fasting?


Take Up Your Cross Daily and Follow Jesus

During the Protestant Reformation of the 1500s, Martin Luther articulated a timeless distinction between two approaches to knowing God. He labeled one a “theology of glory” and applied it to those who believe they can attain a glorious knowledge of God by human goodness, religious effort, mystical experiences, or the wisdom of human reason. According to this view, God manifests Himself most often through blessings, victory, success, miracles, power, and other exhilarating experiences of “glory.”

By contrast, Luther argued that the biblical way to know God goes through a “theology of the cross.” God has “hidden” Himself where human wisdom would not expect to find Him, that is, in the lowliness and suffering of the man Jesus Christ, and especially in His humiliating defeat on a Roman cross. As Luther put it, “true theology and recognition of God are in the crucified Christ.”* So rather than finding God by ascending to Him through our efforts, wisdom, or self-initiated experiences, God has descended to us in Jesus whose glory was in the least-expected of places–the cross–and in a way where He can be found by faith alone.

Our natural tendency is to look for Him through the theology of glory. As with the Apostle Thomas, our way says, “Show us the Father, and it is sufficient for us.” But rather than display a vision of the Father in Heaven, Jesus pointed to Himself–a poor, simple man–saying, “He who has seen Me has seen the Father (John 14:8-9). Our theology of glory says with Jesus’ enemies, “Let Him now come down from the cross, and we will believe Him” Luther's Theology of the Cross(Matthew 27:42). And even though He could have exploded off the cross in a dazzling display of power and called legions of magnificent angels from Heaven to testify to His divinity. Jesus stayed on the cross until His work was finished.

The cross lies at the heart of all God did through Jesus Christ. It is the supreme example of God’s power and wisdom displayed in what the world considers weakness and foolishness (1 Corinthians 1:18-25). And anyone who wants to know God must find Him in Christ crucified.

But the cross is as central to following Christ daily as it is to knowing Him initially. Notice the word daily in the invitation of Jesus: “Then He said to them all, ‘If anyone desires to come after Me, let him deny himself , and take up his cross daily, and follow Me” (Luke 9:23).

As Jesus was willing to go to the cross to do the will of the Father (Philippians 2:8), so we must be willing to follow Jesus to the cross, daily dying to any desires that conflict with His so that we may daily live for Him. While we may truly speak of glory inaugurated by the resurrection and ascension of Jesus, identifying with following Him in this world involves suffering. Indeed, there will be no end to cross-bearing this side of Heaven.

The theology of the cross simplifies the spiritual life by standing as its primary reference point. Everything in Christian spirituality relates to it. Through the cross we begin our spirituality and by the power and example of the cross we live it. Ask God to show Himself afresh to you through the Bible’s teaching of the cross and where this theology needs fresh application in your life.


*Martin Luther, Luther’s Works, vol. 31, Jaroslav Ian Pelikan, Hilton C. Oswald, and Helmut T. Lehmann, eds. (Philadelphia, PA: Fortress Press, 1999), CD-ROM edition.

The material originally appeared in Donald S. Whitney, Simplify Your Spiritual Life (Colorado Springs, CO: NavPress, 2003), 29-30.

Part 2–Trevin Wax interviews Don Whitney about spiritual discipline, legalism, & laziness

On the occasion of the release of the Revised & Updated edition of my Spiritual Disciplines for the Christian Life, Trevin Wax interviewed me about spiritual discipline, legalism, and laziness.

Part one of this interview is here.

Trevin Wax: 3. The second concern deals with specific spiritual disciplines, primarily those concerned with meditation on God’s Word or spending time in silence and solitude. How do you respond to those who believe time in silence is a misinterpretation of Psalm 46:10, an extrabiblical innovation that can lead us to place personal experience over God’s revealed truth?

Don: First, I trust that no Bible-believer has an issue with the responsibility, privilege, and value of meditation on God’s Word. Passages such as Joshua 1:8, Psalm 1:3, 2 Timothy 2:7 and others should settle that. How could anyone who loves God and His Word discount the importance and benefits of meditation on Scripture? And the fact that meditation would frequently be most fruitful when done in privacy stands to reason.

But to unite the two (solitude and meditation on Scripture) on the basis of Psalm 46:10 is an error. Psalm 46:10–“Be still, and know that I am God”–is indeed frequently misinterpreted. In fact, I would say that when it’s used in the context of the devotional life it’s always misinterpreted. While I do think it represents a biblical principle, namely that it’s always beneficial to stop and be reminded of the sovereignty of God in the midst of all circumstances, that’s not what Psalm 46:10 is about. Rather the context there is international, not personal. It’s about God’s exaltation above the nations, not about an individual’s personal piety.

Meditation on Scripture, done rightly, leads to the richest “personal experience” (with God), but never at the expense of God’s revealed truth. Rather I would contend that the richest experiences with God come most consistently by means of meditation on His Word. Why is it that so many Christians, people who read the Bible every day, cannot remember the last time their daily time in the Word of God changed their day, much less changed their life? Why is it that most days, if pressed, as soon as they close their Bible would have to admit, “I don’t remember a thing I read”? I would argue that the reason is a lack of meditation.

While reading the Bible is the exposure to Scripture–and that’s essential; that’s the starting place–meditation is the absorption of Scripture. And it’s the absorption of Scripture that leads to the experience with God and the transformation of life that we long for when we come to Scripture. My contention is that people just don’t do that, even people who read the Bible every day. It’s not that people can’t meditate on Scripture; they just don’t. Often it’s because they’ve not been taught about meditation, and/or they just don’t know how to meditate on a verse of Scripture. That’s why in the section of Spiritual Disciplines for the Christian Life where I write about meditation I conclude with seventeen different ways to meditate on Scripture, ways that are doable by any Christian (for any devotional practice–like meditation–expected of all God’s children has to be fundamentally simple).

Trevin Wax: 4. One of the reasons why worship attendance is down in some denominations is that the faithful Christian who is active in church is attending less often. In your opinion, does it help us to see the public worship gathering as a “discipline,” or is conceiving of worship as an “obligation” one of the reasons of why Christians are attending church less often?

Don: In my opinion, the reason the “faithful Christian” you mention attends church less often has nothing to do with the intentional rejection of an “obligation” imposed by the church. Having no interest in gathering when God’s people gather for the purpose of publicly honoring and enjoying God, finding no delight in the incarnational (not merely recorded) proclamation of God’ Word, and having no appetite for the grace of the Lord’s table comes from a deeper root than an avoidance of legalism. In the New Testament, the concepts of “faithful Christian” and avoidance of church life never characterize the same people.

Because of the internal war of the Spirit against our flesh and our flesh against the Spirit (Galatians 5:17), there remains within us while in this world a gravitational pull of our hearts away from the things of God (such as public worship) as well as a Spirit-produced gravitational pull toward them. To be one who intentionally fights against the flesh and who “sows to the Spirit” (Galatians 6:8) it’s right and biblical to speak of participation in congregational worship as a discipline. As I mentioned earlier, the blessings experienced in the worship of God with His people will often be forfeited if we attend only when we feel like it when we awake on Sunday morning (if indeed we even awake on time without discipline).

Trevin Wax: 5. In this newest edition of your book, you have added more than 10,000 words of new material, adding more Bible references and a more cross-centered focus. What led you to make these adjustments in the new edition?

Don: The single biggest addition to the book was the expansion of the section on methods of meditation from six to seventeen. Some of the book’s enlargement came simply from including things I’ve learned about the disciplines in the twenty-three years since the original edition was published. I also took the opportunity to delete a few lines and quotations that could be construed as inclining toward mysticism. Most importantly, I added more of the gospel in every chapter. In 2011 I did a year-long series on “The Gospel and the Spiritual Disciplines” for Tabletalk magazine. Much of that material found its way, chapter-by-chapter, into the Revised & Updated edition of Spiritual Disciplines for the Christian Life. I wanted to do my best to ensure that no one separated the gospel from the disciplines or became tempted to think that by the diligent practice of the disciplines they could earn God’s favor.

I’d also like to mention that the terminology of the book has been updated, and I believe it’s now a better-written book. I reviewed every line, and I hope I’ve learned a few things about writing in the last twenty-three years. Overall, I think this edition is a big advance for the book in style, but especially in content, and I hope your readers find it to be so.

This interview originally appeared on August 12, 2014, on Trevin Wax’s blog on The Gospel Coalition website.

Trevin Wax interviews Don Whitney about spiritual discipline, legalism, & laziness

On the occasion of the release of the Revised & Updated edition of my Spiritual Disciplines for the Christian Life, Trevin Wax interviewed me about spiritual discipline, legalism, and laziness. Read more