Book Review: “Practical Religion” by J.C. Ryle

J.C. Ryle’s “Practical Religion” is a timeless classic that continues to speak powerfully to modern readers, despite being written over a century ago. Ryle’s ability to convey deep spiritual truths in a clear and straightforward manner makes this book accessible and relevant for Christians today.


Practical Religion” is a collection of nineteen insightful messages, each addressing essential aspects of Christian living. Ryle emphasizes the importance of personal holiness, prayer, Bible reading, and the sacraments, all while grounding his teachings firmly in Scripture. His pastoral heart and concern for the spiritual well-being of his readers are evident throughout the book.

Practical Religion by J.C. Ryle

Table of Contents

  1. Self-Inquiry
  2. Self-Exertion
  3. Reality
  4. Prayer
  5. Bible Reading
  6. Going to the Table
  7. The Lord’s Day
  8. Holiness
  9. Love
  10. Zeal
  11. Freedom
  12. Happiness
  13. Formality
  14. The World
  15. Riches and Poverty
  16. Sickness
  17. The Family of God
  18. Our Home
  19. Heirs of God

Each chapter addresses practical aspects of living out one’s faith, making it a valuable resource for personal growth and reflection.

Details from my favorite chapters:

Chapter 4: Prayer

In the chapter on Prayer, J.C. Ryle emphasizes the importance and necessity of prayer in a believer’s life. He outlines several key lessons:

  1. Essential Duty: Prayer is not optional but a fundamental duty of every Christian. Ryle argues that a prayerless Christian is a contradiction.
  2. Power of Prayer: He explains that prayer is a powerful tool, capable of bringing about great change and strength in a believer’s life. It is through prayer that Christians commune with God, find peace, and gain spiritual strength.
  3. Private Prayer: Ryle highlights the importance of private, personal prayer, encouraging readers to set aside time daily for this practice.
  4. Perseverance: He encourages persistence in prayer, reminding readers that God hears and answers in His perfect timing.

Chapter 5: Bible Reading

In the Bible Reading chapter, Ryle underscores the critical role of Scripture in a Christian’s spiritual growth:

  1. Divine Inspiration: He affirms the Bible as the inspired Word of God, deserving reverence and diligent study.
  2. Daily Habit: Ryle advocates for regular, daily reading of the Bible, comparing it to daily nourishment for the soul.
  3. Understanding and Application: He stresses not just reading, but understanding and applying Scripture to one’s life. Knowledge of the Bible should translate into practical living.
  4. Study Methods: Ryle provides practical advice on how to read the Bible effectively, including systematic reading plans and the use of study aids.

Chapter 12: Happiness

In the chapter on Happiness, Ryle explores the true source of happiness from a Christian perspective:

  1. Worldly vs. Spiritual: He distinguishes between fleeting worldly pleasures and the enduring joy found in a relationship with God.
  2. Contentment in Christ: Ryle teaches that true happiness comes from contentment in Christ, not in earthly possessions or achievements.
  3. Holiness and Joy: He links personal holiness with happiness, suggesting that living a holy life according to God’s will brings about true joy and satisfaction.
  4. Trials and Joy: Ryle also acknowledges that Christians can find happiness even in trials, as these are opportunities for growth and deeper dependence on God.

J.C. Ryle’s “Practical Religion” offers profound yet accessible lessons in each chapter, particularly on the subjects of prayer, Bible reading, and happiness. His teachings encourage believers to cultivate a strong, personal relationship with God through diligent prayer and Bible study, and to seek true happiness in a life of holiness and contentment in Christ.


One of the standout features of J.C. Ryle’s writing is his clarity. Even though his works were penned over a century ago, his prose remains remarkably easy to understand. He avoids complex theological jargon and instead uses plain language to make his points. This makes “Practical Religion” not only an informative read but also an enjoyable one.

Enduring Relevance

Ryle’s insights into human nature, his emphasis on practical godliness, and his unwavering commitment to biblical truth resonate as strongly today as they did when first published. Whether you are a new believer or have been walking with the Lord for many years, “Practical Religion” offers valuable lessons and encouragement for your spiritual journey.


In conclusion, “Practical Religion” by J.C. Ryle is a must-read for any Christian seeking to deepen their faith and live out their beliefs in a practical, meaningful way. Its enduring wisdom and accessible style ensure that it will remain a treasured resource for generations to come.

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Practical Religion by J.C. Ryle


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