The reading of spiritual classics should differ from other types of reading. One reads a newspaper dictionary or textboook for factual information or imediate answers to questions but in spiritual reading one seeks to inflame the heart towards God as well as to inform the mind. Spiritual reading, as Eugene Peterson has noted, should therefore be “leisurely, repetitive, reflective reading”–it should not be hurried. Careful attention needs to be paid to what the Spirit of God is saying through the text and those readings which are rich in spiritual nourishment need to be re-read again and again.
Of course, when it comes to spiritual classics, the Bible occupies a unique and indispensable place–it is the fountainhead and source of the Christian faith. Anyone wishing to make progress as a disciple of Christ must be committed to regular reflection and meditation on the Scriptures. As David says in Psalm 1, a believer is truly blessed when he or she delights in the Word of God and meditates on it “day and night” (Psalm 1:1-2).
Christians, for many generations now, have found strength and nourishment by meditating on the Word of God. Often their wisdom and insight was recorded–either in books, diaries, letters, hymns or sermons–and some of these, having been preserved, we are in the habit of calling spiritual classics. Such classics have a way of sending their readers back to the Bible with deeper insight into the nature of the Chrisitan faith and serve to cultivate a greater desire to seek after Christ’s glory and his abiding presence.
Michael Haykin, “To Honour God”: The Spirituality of Oliver Cromwell in the series “Classics of Reformed Spirituality”, p. 133-134