Practices of Love

Spiritual Disciplines for the Life of the World

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Spiritual disciplines are often viewed primarily as a means to draw us closer to God. While these practices do deepen and enrich our "vertical" relationship with God, Kyle David Bennett argues that they were originally designed to positively impact our "horizontal" relationships--with neighbors, strangers, enemies, friends, family, animals, and even the earth. Bennett explains that this "horizontal" dimension has often been overlooked or forgotten in contemporary discussions of the spiritual disciplines.

This book offers an alternative way of understanding the classic spiritual disciplines that makes them relevant, doable, and meaningful for everyday Christians. Bennett shows how the disciplines are remedial practices that correct the malformed ways we do everyday things, such as think, eat, talk, own, work, and rest. Through personal anecdotes, engagement with Scripture, and vivid cultural references, he invites us to practice the spiritual disciplines wholesale and shows how changing the way we do basic human activities can bring healing, renewal, and transformation to our day-to-day lives and the world around us.

Foreword by James K. A. Smith
Introduction: Spiritual Heroin: How Not to Get Fixed
1. Spiritual Disciplines and the Way of Love
2. "What Do You Have That You Did Not Receive?": Simplicity and Renewed Owning
3. Directions for Ruling the Mind: Meditation and Renewed Thinking
4. This Is My Tummy, Which I Will Curb for You: Fasting and Feasting and Renewed Eating
5. Time-Out for Adults: Solitude and Renewed Socializing
6. Controlling the Chatterbox: Silence and Renewed Talking
7. How to Make Friends and Empower People: Service and Renewed Working
8. Work Hard, Consecrate Hard: Sabbath Keeping and Renewed Resting
9. Who's Afraid of Love? Everyday Discipline for the Life of the World
Further Reading


"Spiritual disciplines, if done wrong, can become a form of sanctified narcissism. Bennett's book is a welcome corrective. He turns the disciplines sideways, and in doing so life gets oriented outward. We have focused much on the first great commandment. Bennett helps us put shoes on the second great commandment. After he discusses each spiritual discipline he gets down and dirty with specifics. If you take him seriously, your life and your neighborhood will be changed."

Dennis Okholm, Azusa Pacific University; author of Dangerous Passions, Deadly Sins: Learning from the Psychology of Ancient Monks

"If you stay the course with Kyle David Bennett's book, you are likely to find yourself wrestling with it, as with a mysterious stranger."

John Wilson, editor, Education & Culture

"What if spiritual disciplines are not just for Sundays? And what if they are not just for your own spiritual growth? In this lively book, Kyle David Bennett shows how our everyday working and resting, speaking and listening, eating and shopping can be Christian practices with and for our neighbors. With earnest passion and humble humor, Bennett calls us to spiritual formation that is an intentionally social expression of love."

Rebecca Konyndyk DeYoung, Calvin College; author of Glittering Vices

"Kyle David Bennett helps us see that spiritual disciplines are for the good of others as well as ourselves. Take up and read this antidote to spiritual heroin and be encouraged to pursue a life with God with both vertical and horizontal dimensions."

Vincent Bacote, director, Center for Applied Christian Ethics, Wheaton College

"Love your neighbor as yourself? Easier said than done! Kyle Bennett teaches us the practices that make loving our neighbor possible, even for flawed people like ourselves."

Gideon Strauss, associate professor of worldview studies, Institute for Christian Studies; senior fellow, Center for Public Justice

The Author

  1. Kyle David Bennett

    Kyle David Bennett

    Kyle David Bennett (PhD, Fuller Theological Seminary) is assistant professor of philosophy at Caldwell University in Caldwell, New Jersey, where he also directs the Spirituality and Leadership Institute, a think tank and training center that focuses on...

    Continue reading about Kyle David Bennett