Updated: May 21
Do you feel stuck in a spiritual rut?
Could you use fresh wind in your sails as you approach Bible reading and prayer?
Do you long for a mentor who could give you some wisdom and encouragement?
For decades now, I have found the writings and biographies of spiritually significant saints to be one of the most life-giving and inspirational assets in my Christian walk. They don’t replace time in the Word or prayer. Instead, I have found them to enhance it.
If you find yourself in need of personal renewal – especially in this unique time in world history – perhaps you, too, will find encouragement and inspiration as you draw on the profound insights and experience of seasoned saints.
Don’t have time to read a whole book? Even five minutes with a sage will nourish your soul. As a busy mother of eight, I cling to every nugget I can grab, even in the cracks.
And please note: personal renewal is never the end goal in and of itself. Abiding in Christ always has as its beautiful end Jesus Christ bearing fruit and impacting lives through us. In this, He receives glory, and our joy is complete (John 15:8 & 11).
With all of that in mind, I share Three Reasons to Read the Spiritual Greats.
1. You’ll be walking with the wise.
He who walks with the wise grows wise, but a companion of fools suffers harm (Prov. 13:20).
An older friend once told me that when she was a new believer, she longed for a spiritual mentor. God did not provide one in person, but He did give her Catherine Marshall - through her books.
Since then, whenever I find an author who inspires me to greater heights, I relish the fact that God has provided me yet another mentor. He’s allowed me the opportunity to walk with the wise through the chapters of a book.
It’s been said that the faith is caught, not taught. Think of what happens when you put a cold piece of coal next to some hot ones. Soon, the cold piece starts to heat up. Walk with the greats through the pages of their stories, and you’ll find it leaves a vital impression on your soul.
2. You’ll grow in your faith and fruitfulness.
Be diligent in these matters; give yourself wholly to them, so that everyone may see your progress. 1 Tim. 4:15
Do you ever wonder if you are progressing in your Christian walk? Are you more full of faith than you were a year ago? Have you grown in knowledge and understanding of God’s Word? Is your heart more in love with the Lord? More passionate for lost souls?
Time alone doesn’t guarantee growth. Sometimes we can go backward. Sometimes, spiritually speaking, our souls shrink.
But Paul reminds us that continual progress is our goal, to be “transformed into His image with ever-increasing glory (2 Cor. 3:18).
One of the best ways you can progress in your walk is to watch someone else progress.
Read the biography of a saint in process, and as you watch them grow and conquer giants, you’ll find your desire and faith increasing. You’ll want to overcome sin as they did. You’ll want to know the Word of God like they did. You’ll want to pray as they prayed. You’ll want to take action for Christ like they did.
3. You’ll be learning from the greats.
My friends, I want you to follow my example and learn from others who closely follow the example we set for you. Php. 3:17
Paul wasn’t shy in telling believers to live as he did. He knew that if someone set out to study his life and live accordingly, they would be on a great trajectory.
Not only did Paul want people to follow his example, but he encouraged them to closely follow anyone who lived the kind of Christ-centered, gospel-focused life he did. He knew that when we set out to learn from those who have lived commendable lives, it has a way of rubbing off on us.
Seeing how they applied Scripture to life will help us apply Scripture to life.
Seeing the value they placed on prayer – and the mighty answers God gave – will help us to prioritize prayer.
Seeing how they received grace after failure will remind us of life and hope, even after apparent defeat.
Seeing how they clung to Christ through suffering will help us cling to Christ through unimaginable hardship.
Seeing how they pressed through and rejoiced in all circumstances will affect our attitude to persevere through thick and thin – and remind us of the hope to come.
So, do you long to get up close and personal with someone who has an intimate, contagious walk with Christ? You can!
Do you want a mentor? There are countless available to you!
Below is a list of books and/or authors I have found inspiring. Email me at Rachel@owm.org. I’d love to hear your favorites as well!
Christian Heroes Then and Now (biography series by Goeff and Janet Benge by YWAM Publishing; dozens of great titles for older children and adults)
Men of Faith (biography series by Bethany House Publishers)
Andrew Murray (wrote about 50 books on the Christian life). Several good biographies of him are available as well.
Streams in the Desert by Lettie Cowman (devotionals centered on suffering, compiled from various authors)
E.M. Bounds (wrote many classics on prayer). A good biography of him is E.M. Bounds, Man of Prayer by Lyle Dorsett
Wesley Duewel (Heroes of the Holy Life (14 short biographies), Ablaze for God, Mighty Prevailing Prayer, Touch the World through Prayer)
Daws: A Man Who Trusted God by Betty Skinner (story of Dawson Trotman, founder of The Navigators)
Amy Carmichael (numerous books by and about her)
D.L. Moody (A Passion for Souls by Lyle Dorsett)
How to Pray (R.A. Torrey)
Evangelism and the Soul Winner (7-in-1 Classics)
Dream Big: The Henrietta Mears Story by Mears and Earl Roe (a woman who influences men like Billy Graham and Bill Bright in their early years)
The list goes on and on….