When we lived overseas, books were our primary means (outside of the Bible) of receiving discipleship. So in recognition of a new year and new starts, I offer you my top five best books for spiritual growth. You’ll hear echoes of these authors in everything I write.

Hearing God by Peter Lord

If you read one book in your
life about spiritual growth,
Hearing God should be it!

This is ostensibly a book about prayer, but it applies to every aspect of the Christ-follower’s life. In Hearing God, Peter Lord opens the door to recognizing God’s will and responding. This is not a technical or cerebral book, neither is it mystical or charismatic. It’s a friendly, practical companion for improving your quiet time, your prayer life, even your day-to-day existence. If you read one book—ever—about personal spiritual growth, this should be it.

The Practice of the Presence of God by Brother Lawrence

We can always be meditating, always be attune to the Holy Spirit’s leading. In this centuries-old book, a Carmelite monk documents his habit of remaining constantly aware of God’s presence. This is not a novel or biography but rather a collection of conversations and letters, so it’s not easy to read (although it is rather short). It can, however, teach you how to adopt a mental posture of prayer and humility even while you’re peeling potatoes or making a presentation.

The Freedom of Self-Forgetfulness by Timothy Keller

C.S. Lewis said that humility is not about thinking less of yourself, but thinking of yourself less. Keller expands that concept into a small but provocative book. Always an excellent and theologically-sound writer, Keller is at his best in this book. When I stop thinking it’s all about me, I find incredible freedom to just live the Christ-life (as the title suggests). I learned to separate myself from what’s happening around me so that neither criticism nor praise affects me deeply and I exist more purely for His glory.

Tangible Kingdom by Hugh Halter and Matt Smay

The Word became flesh
and made his dwelling
among us.
John 1:14

Jesus Himself became tangible, touchable, accessible…real. We are the Kingdom of God on earth, and we are called to do the same. This book challenges the way you live your life, pushing you to recognize where you’re making choices that you didn’t realize you were making. It’s about finding your unreached community—your personal people group—and being intentional about sharing Christ in it. If Hearing God is the manual for your personal Walk, Tangible Kingdom is the manual for your public Walk. Even if you don’t agree with everything they say, don’t skip it.

Oswald Chambers: Abandoned to God by David McCasland

This is “the life story of the author of My Utmost for His Highest,” a devotional book that’s been hugely influential in my life and the lives of many others. But MUHH is excerpts of sermons; they aren’t the real man. I discovered that Chambers was an artist and a thinker who saw life with God as an adventure to be grasped. Through it, God gave me permission to be the artist, the expressive soul, the free-thinker that He created me to be! McCasland is a good author, and his subject is inspiring…worth the time it takes to read the 350 pages.

I hope you found something here to encourage you and challenge you in 2016. If you’ve already read any of these books, please let us know what you thought by sharing in the comments section below!

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