A Long Obedience in the Same Direction: Discipleship in an Instant Society, By Eugene H. Peterson

A Long Obedience in the Same Direction

Discipleship in an Instant Society

Commemorative Edition

by Eugene H. Peterson
Preface by Leif Peterson

A Long Obedience in the Same Direction
  • Length: 224 pages
  • Dimensions: 5.5 × 8.25 in
  • Published: July 23, 2024
  • Imprint: IVP Formatio
  • Item Code: A1120
  • ISBN: 9781514011201

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Over 300,000 Copies Sold

Since Eugene Peterson first wrote this spiritual formation classic more than forty years ago, hundreds of thousands of Christians have been inspired by its call to deeper discipleship. As a society, we are still obsessed with the immediate, but Peterson's time-tested prescription for discipleship remains the same—a long obedience in the same direction.

Long obedience requires a deepening life of prayer. Peterson finds encouragement for today's pilgrims in the Songs of Ascents (Psalms 120–134), sung by travelers on their way to worship in Jerusalem. With prophetic and pastoral wisdom, Peterson shows how the psalms teach us to grow in worship, service, joy, work, happiness, humility, community, and blessing.

This commemorative edition of A Long Obedience in the Same Direction includes a preface taken from Leif Peterson's eulogy at his father's memorial service and a bibliography of Peterson's works. A companion Bible study guide is also available.

"I've never read a book by Eugene Peterson that didn't stir and challenge me."

Max Lucado, author of In the Grip of Grace

"I thank God for A Long Obedience. It is a pioneer message, first coming to us at a time when no one was talking about either 'long' or 'obedience.' And while, thankfully, others have added their voices in the intervening years, A Long Obedience retains its prophetic edge for us who live on the cusp of the twenty-first century. Rooted in the ancient psalmist's Songs of Ascents it invites us to journey with Jesus into the rich spiritual landscape of 'righteousness and peace and joy in the Holy Spirit.'"

Richard J. Foster, author of Celebration of Discipline and Streams of Living Water

"There is a clean, bright rigor to honest life before God. Burnishing the language of the Psalms, Eugene Peterson makes that life sing like a taut wire. A long obedience is the only path of discipleship to Jesus, and this is a message we desperately need to hear and implement today."

Dallas Willard, author of The Divine Conspiracy

"Into a world that does its best to deceive us into believing that everything changes, God speaks his unchanging Word. Ours is a time and a world that needs to hear in fresh ways all that that Word might mean if we would only listen. Eugene has listened. In this book he tells us all that he has heard about those fixed facets of that unchanging Word."

Michael Card, recording artist

"All of the marks of a classic—profound, timeless, life-impacting."

Leith Anderson, author of Leadership That Works

"Words are weapons for good or ill, and Eugene H. Peterson uses them to wield the sword of Scripture to pierce our minds and hearts. He is one of God's most gifted wordsmiths, and we are privileged to have his work among us. . . . I have constantly used his writings and concepts in my ministry; putting them to use in drama, teaching, and books, and they have hugely enhanced my own gifting. Not least, those words have had a sweet influence in my own 'obedience in the same direction'! I am honored to endorse this Christian classic."

Jill P. Briscoe, author of Running on Empty

"Eugene Peterson's special gift is to stand beside us and keep our feet on the ground as he lifts our hearts to God and our minds to godliness. A Long Obedience in the Same Direction, which does this stunningly well, is also the best pathway into the Psalter you are likely to find. If, like me for twenty years, you find it hard to get into the Psalms, that is another reason to read, mark, learn, and inwardly digest this brilliant book."

J. I. Packer, author of Knowing God

"Every day contemporary culture invites me to rush about in a hundred different directions that tear at my soul. I have found Eugene Peterson to have no patience for such crazed busyness. Instead he shows me how to stay focused on the long, biblical direction home to God."

Craig Barnes, author of When God Interrupts

"A Long Obedience in the Same Direction participates in a vital literary and theological tradition: the power of a particular text, in this case the fifteen Songs of Ascents, to release the highly original—that is to say, explosive—meditation of a profound Christian spirit. . . . These provocative meditations delivered this true evangelist into the Christian world and gave us a literary, spiritual guide whose wisdom and clear-sightedness can always be trusted. . . . Now that A Long Obedience has been complemented by Eugene's own translation of the Psalms into today's idiom, its contemporary testimony stands complete and virtually unrivaled. I would give this book to anyone who truly wanted to know what the Christian faith is about and to anyone attempting to live that faith as well."

Harold Fickett, author of Holy Fool

"A wonderful book, one of the very best guides to the Psalms. Peterson's combination of passion and insight match the psalmists'. And he is very nearly as good a writer!"

Tim Stafford, author of Knowing the Face of God

"It has been said in today's instant society that evangelism has never been easier—it's discipleship that has never been harder. Eugene Peterson not only instructs us in his considerable wisdom about authentic discipleship, he helps us see the passion and excitement of living lives fully devoted to Jesus. And with the current torrent of interest in spirituality, his guidance on what constitutes genuine spirituality is pure gold."

Rebecca Manley Pippert, author of Out of the Saltshaker

"Bind this book in the burlap of servanthood: a course in the weak times, a celebration in the strong! Twenty years ago I first read this tolle lege book. Now it is a well-read friend who looks down from my Peterson shelf and daily asks: Are you faithful long-term? Are you going always in the same direction?"

Calvin Miller, author of The Singer Trilogy

Read an Excerpt


Commemorative Preface by Leif Peterson
20th-Anniversary Preface

1. Discipleship: "What Makes You Think You Can Race Against Horses?"
2. Repentance: "I'm Doomed to Live in Meshech"
3. Providence: "God Guards You from Every Evil"
4. Worship: "Let's Go to the House of God"
5. Service: "Like Servants . . . We're Watching & Waiting"
6. Help: "Oh, Blessed Be God! He Didn't Go Off & Leave Us"
7. Security: "God Encircles His People"
8. Joy: "We Laughed, We Sang"
9. Work: "If God Doesn't Build the House"
10. Happiness: "Enjoy the Blessing! Revel in the Goodness!"
11. Perseverance: "They Never Could Keep Me Down"
12. Hope: "I Pray to God . . . and Wait for What He'll Say & Do"
13. Humility: "I've Kept My Feet on the Ground"
14. Obedience: "How He Promised God"
15. Community: "Like Costly Anointing Oil Flowing Down Head & Beard"
16. Blessing: "Lift Your Praising Hands"
A Long Obedience: An Epilogue

List of Works by Eugene H. Peterson


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Eugene H. Peterson

Eugene H. Peterson (1932–2018) was a pastor, scholar, author, and poet. He wrote more than thirty books, including his widely acclaimed paraphrase of the Bible The Message: The Bible in Contemporary Language, his memoir, The Pastor, and the bestselling spiritual formation classic A Long Obedience in the Same Direction.