Addison Hodges Hart, The Yoke of Jesus.
This book might well be sub-subtitled (since it has as its subtitle, “A School for the Soul in Solitude”) “The Christian Alone with God.” It is a book about the solitary life, nurturing the disciplines and practice that help us to experience a God, increasing in knowledge of Him, and be transformed more into the likeness of Jesus. It is intended as an introduction to the essence of spiritual life, and, as such, it accomplishes a very important role.
The emphasis throughout is on developing and improving “private, solitary prayer.” At all times we must keep two goals in mind: the far horizon of the glory of God in Jesus Christ, and the near horizon of daily events and activities. “The scoops is the immediate goal one strives to master in order to achieve the telos – the ultimate end of a set course of action.” This requires an ascetic approach to life that is personal, ethical, and aimed at loving God and our neighbors. “Asceticism, in turn, is seeing both our goals, the immediate and the ultimate, and then focusing our efforts on the immediate.” The “daily routines and disciplines of the Christian’s life” issue from this for a rich and loving walk with the Lord.
Such a life begins in faith – trust in God above reason – and us shaped in solitude through prayer, meditation, reading and study of Scripture, additional reading and study, and engagement with creation. The goal is to be formed into the likeness of Christ, and this takes work, the work of the ascetic life.
The ascetic life requires stillness before God, until all distractions are silenced and we can focus on God alone. He argues for the importance of connecting our breathing patterns with the rhythms of prayer, do that we breath the Spirit of God and His Word rather than the spirits of the age. We must be willing to devote considerable time to such solitude, and to fill that time with the various disciplines he outlines in the book.
His is an ecumenical, Biblical, and decidedly evangelical approach and leads to a worldview of separation from the world for a God and the world. Because our true identity us in Christ alone, the more time we spend with a Him in His yoke, the more we will realize our true purpose and highest joy in life.
This is a very good introduction to the disciplines of the spiritual life.