The pendulum swings from one generation to the next, and sometimes we may not even be aware to which side our own generation has swung. Each generation may have a better grasp of one issue but completely blind to another. By considering writings from ages past, we may see the blind spots of their age, but they also help us to see where our own blind spots are so that we can make corrections. I was thrilled to find the book Awakening Faith: Daily Devotions from the Early Church by James Start Bell with Patrick J. Kelly , which includes the writing of key Christian teachers and leaders from the first eight centuries of Christianity, such as John Chrysostom, Augustine, Leo the Great, Ambrose, Polycarp, Justin Martyr, etc.
From these first Christians who pass on the heritage of our faith through writing, the editors selected writings that are practically helpful today for spiritual growth and drawing nearer to God. The writings selected are not dry, but spiritually insightful and are great for pondering, praying, and meditating. The language is updated, so it is easy to understand, and the style is consistent throughout the book such that you would not even recognize it was written centuries ago. The selections are attributed to the original author, but the actual writings are not referenced. (I cannot comment on the accuracy or the extent of editing).
This little treasure of a book provides a fresh way of discussing what may be familiar topics to us without today’s lingo and clichés, touching on a variety of topics such as who Jesus is and what He has done, the significance of the cross, the character of God, enduring hardships, praising, prayer – what to pray, how to pray, how long to pray, the power of prayer, praising, serving, gifts. I have underlined some great quotes throughout the book, like “In prayer there is no pride…” (Ambrose, 46) and “the way to rest is through toil, the way to life is through death” (Leo the Great, 2).
Each day of reading is numbered instead of dated, so you can start this devotional any day of the year. I am going to read it again, more slowly and carefully over this next year, and use it to pray over and apply in my life.
Disclaimer: I received a complimentary copy of this book from Zondervan Publishing in exchange for my honest review.