I’ve read plenty of books, Christian and not, and all of them have had some sort of influence on me. I love them all: history, humor, fiction, whatever. But these are probably the most formative because (1) I read them early in my Christian experience, and (2) I read them when I was really hungry for spiritual depth. They have stuck with me and continued to speak for many years.
The Cost of Discipleship by Dietrich Bonhoeffer
I first encountered this book when I was a teenager, and I only remember reading part of it. I don’t think I ever finished. But what I read, even though much of it was over my head at the time, convinced me that being a Christian was serious business, encompassing all of life and demanding full commitment. I’ve never been able to live up to that call completely, but I’ve also never been able to forget it.
Biography of James Hudson Taylor by Dr. and Mrs. Howard Taylor
Yes, this is a very idealized biography, full of stereotypes and written in an old and florid style. But it also captures the vision and commitment of Hudson Taylor in such a compelling way that it made me want to be just like him. Actually, for a time, I think I wanted to be him. This book gave me a lifelong love for the global Christian mission and cross-cultural ministry.
With Christ in the School of Prayer by Andrew Murray
I became convinced pretty early in my walk with God that prayer was the key to the Christian life—to everything, in fact. Murray’s book (and others like it) helped me put the prayer life in context and also gave me permission to see it not as something I had to “get right” but as a school, a learning process, a journey into a fuller relationship with Christ. I found it to be a beautiful balance of practical advice and the mysteries of grace.
Praying Hyde: Missionary to India by Basil Miller
This book and The Autobiography of George Müller were in a virtual tie for this spot; but I had to choose one, and this (only slightly more than Müller’s) gave me a startling visual picture of what a life of prayer could look like. That’s the beauty of biographies; they put clothes on abstract concepts and beliefs and give you a vision to grow into. I’m still hoping to grow into Hyde’s.
The Pursuit of God by A. W. Tozer
I suspect this book makes a lot of people’s lists. It’s short but powerful, filled with insights about what it really means to be a Christian. It has mystical undertones—not a bad thing, in my view—while being thoroughly grounded in Scripture and Christian theology. For me, this book has not only been a model for trying to live a thoughtful, relevant life but also for trying to write thoughtful, relevant words.
Chris Tiegreen is author of many books, including the new The Wonder of Advent Devotional.
As the year comes to a close and the stress and busyness of the consumer Christmas holiday grows, it can be easy to lose sight of what the season really calls us to: worship. In today’s world, is it even possible to slow down, to ponder, to wonder in the coming birth of Christ?
This Advent, recapture the mystery and beauty of the season with The Wonder of Advent Devotional. In this insightful and thought-provoking book, beloved devotional author Chris Tiegreen brings you into a deeper experience of this integral time in the church calendar. After completing a week of short readings to prepare your heart for the Advent season, you’ll journey through December with daily Scripture readings, prompts for reflection, and guided prayer to help you savor this remarkable divine story. With each day, The Wonder of Advent Devotional will reconnect you with what happened in Bethlehem long ago—and experience it anew in your life right now.