I read a lot of books. And I definitely owe you a lifetime book list or something like that. But I'm asked pretty often what books I would recommend to someone who is looking to dig deeper into their faith.
Maybe that's you. You think you know what you believe but you have some questions. You have doubts. You want to know more. You want another layer deeper.
I'm excited to introduce you to six books which were pivotal in my own faith. Books that helped me ask my questions. Books that pushed me into prayer. Books that opened my eyes.
Dig in. Enjoy. And be sure to join me in the comments section below by telling me some of your favorite spiritual titles!
Blue Like Jazz, Donald Miller
“Believing in God is as much like falling in love as it is making a decision. Love is both something that happens to you and something you decide upon.”
If I’m being honest, this was the first “Christian” book I read without feeling like I was out-of-place or didn’t belong in the faith. Before this book, I tried. I tried picking up countless numbers of books about faith, dating, Jesus, and never felt like I could identify with the author and the language they used.
And then came this book. Who knows how long it was sitting on my bookshelf at home before I cracked it open while nannying. Cracking this book open was pivotal for me. I knew once I started reading this book would change my life. There was no way it couldn’t change my life.
I honestly believe I am a Christian today because of this book. Donald Miller was the first author I came across who put his faith into plain terms. He never made me feel excluded like I was an outsider for not understanding something. I always tell people this book is the most beautiful one I own and it allowed me to sneak into the backdoor of faith. Since that point, I decided to try to do the same with my words: write books that allow people to grasp this idea of faith on a real level.
Prayer, Tim Keller
“Prayer—though it is often draining, even an agony—is in the long-term the greatest source of power that is possible.”
I found this book during my second battle with depression and it changed everything for me. I was sitting in a community group feeling pretty hopeless when the man leading the group pulled a baby blue book off the shelf and read out loud: If you love anything in this world more than God, you will crush that object under the weight of your expectations and it will inevitably break your heart.
This line crushed me. I knew immediately this line was for me, as I had placed so many things before God and I was now left with the pieces of a broken heart. I went out the next day to get the book and begin reading.
What I love about this book is how much reading and study Mr. Keller had to have done to put it together. It is thorough and employs the voices of so many scholars. It’s clear Keller did the research on this topic but also lived the practice out.
I recommend this book to anyone looking to get closer to God through prayer or anyone who has questions about the practice of prayer. You won’t be disappointed.
The Practice of the Presence of God, brother Lawrence
“We ought not to be wary of doing little things for the love of God, who regards not the greatness of the work, but the love with which it is performed.”
It’s a short read but I make it a practice to read this book once every few months. You’ll find on my July goal list: “Reread The Practice of the Presence of God.” Brother Lawrence wasn’t rich or famous.
He was a soldier who decided to dedicate his life to God as a monk. He lived a pretty humble life but he was most proud of how he maintained a beautiful and constant relationship with God. He believed every one of us has the chance to be in the constant presence of God. How awesome is that?
I think everyone should have this book on hand. It’s a stunning manual for those who want to know God on a deeper level.
A Prayer Journal, Flannery O’Connor
“I do not know You God because I am in the way. Please help me to push myself aside.”
I first discovered the prayer journal of Flannery O’Connor through Tim Keller’s book on Prayer. He quotes her often. Before this, I only knew Flannery as a famous American author. I had no clue she was actually very devout in her faith. She spent years begging to God that she would be made into a fine writer. She regarded herself as the tool through which God could write his best stories through.
This book taught me to pray. No joke. Before reading this, I worried my prayers needed to be eloquent and wordy. I prayed “impressive” prayers. And then, getting a peek into her prayer journal, I realized our prayers could be as honest as we want them to be. God isn’t afraid of our honesty, our mess, our failures, and our disgusts. He wants all of it, just as it is.
I also love reading this prayer journal because even though Flannery was a famous author, you would not necessarily tell her writing was “Christian.” She wrote some pretty dark fiction and God used it. Wherever you go, and whatever you do, God is with you and God can use it.
The Gospel According to Moses, Athol Dickson
"I abandoned my faith because it seemed I had no right to question the difficulties, much less expect answers. I had been taught to accept ready-made dogma rather than to personally take my doubts to God. Make no mistake; I do not blame the church for my lost time. I might well have fallen away no matter what. But it is just possible that several years of painful isolation from the Lord might have been avoided had I learned at an early age this simple truth that most Reform Jews know: God loves an honest question.”
This book is a beautiful chronicle for anyone interested in the Jewish faith and how it intersects with Christianity. I nerd out massively when it comes to the Old Testament because I think it is so rich and full, plus Moses and Jacob are my favorites.
If you want to bridge the gap between the Old and New Testament, read this gem. You’ll learn so much. You’ll grow. You’ll know God better.
Spurgeon’s Sorrows, Zack Eswine
“Diagnostic words like “depression” are invitations, not destinations. Once you’ve spoken them, your travel with a person has begun, not ended.”
This book was an engagement gift given to me by my Uncle Scott who brought Lane and I through premarital counseling. I’ve long been a lover of Charles Spurgeon but I didn’t know he dealt with chronic depression and anxiety.
I place this book into the hands of anyone who struggles to understand where faith and mental health intersect. This book is a beautiful testimony to how our weakness can be made perfect through the strength of Christ.
I never want anyone to ever feel like God isn’t with them if they struggle with depression or that medication is bad or wrong. Spurgeon was one of the most regarded preachers of his time (and still is). It’s refreshing to read of his battles with mental illness and uncover where he puts his faith and hope again and again.