Here's a few things to be mindful about when considering on a rule for life:
A rule of life is different for everybody. No two individuals will have exactly the same rule of life. We have a lot of latitude in a personal rule of life. A rule of life should be diverse, reflecting the needs and spiritual aspirations of the person.
We are have been called “heavenward in Christ Jesus.” As we said last week, spiritual growth is for all of us. God desires that each of us in engaged in the process of becoming transformed into the image of Christ.
We all have the same goal,
and though there will be many similarities,
each of our journey’s toward Christlikeness is unique.
Thomas à Kempis writes,
“All cannot use the same kind of spiritual exercises,
but one suits this person, and another that.
Different devotions are suited also to the seasons [of life]....”
A rule of life should take into account your personal circumstances at this point in your life. A personal rule of life can change with the seasons in your life.
Marjorie Thompson in her book, Soul Feast, says,
“Whatever your circumstances, it is always possible to include some form of spiritual discipline in your daily priorities.
If you want to become and remain physically healthily, you eat sensibly and exercise regularly. If you want to become spiritually healthily and remain replenished, you practice spiritual disciplines regularly.”
Be careful not to become legalistic about your rule of life. If it becomes a legalistic way of earning points with God, it should be scrapped.
"Our primary task is not to calculate how many verses of Scripture we read or how many minutes we spend in prayer. Our task is to use these activities to create opportunities for God to work. Then what happens is up to him. We just put up sails: "The wind blows where it chooses..." (Ortberg, 51-52)
John Ortberg in his book, “The Life You’ve Always Wanted,” says this about our attitude toward spiritual formation,
“But God’s primary assessment of our lives is not going to be measured by the number of journal entries…. The real issue is what kind of people we are becoming. Practices such as reading Scripture and praying are important – not because they prove how spiritual we are – but because God can use them to lead us into life.” (Ortberg, 39)
Barton suggests that, once we have developed a rhythm of spiritual practices, that we should have a great deal of flexibility. This is not a once and for all time decision. A rule of life needs to be realistic in light of the stage or season of our life. We should avoid being rigid and legalistic.
This is a rhythm not a law.
Remember, the Spiritual disciplines are a means to an end; they are not the end.
The definition of spiritual transformation is the process of being changed into the likeness of Christ for the sake of others . . . that is the end.
Don’t try to take on too much at once.
FlyLady.net: The 5 Minute Room Rescue
To spend just 5 minutes clearing a path in your worst room. You know this area of your home: the place you would never allow anyone to see. Just 5 minutes a day for the next 27 days and you will have a place that you can be proud to take anyone!
5-Minute Soul Rescue: There's a principle we can learn from Fly Lady here as it relates to our spiritual growth. Many, often set out to do too much, too long, too fast, only to end up discouraged and disheartened. Small, practical, doable steps are the best first steps, regardless of the venture (engaging Scripture, prayer, serving, etc).
If the rule of life contains too much, albeit good stuff, it can soon turn into drudgery and we won’t follow it.
The question is: What can I realistically commit to? This is about honoring personal limitations. It is better to commit to a single practice and stick with it than to take on five and quit altogether because you cannot keep up.
Barton also suggests that an effective rhythm of spiritual practices will be balanced; a balance of disciplines that come easy to us and disciplines that stretch us.
Don’t be afraid to experiment with your rule or rhythm. It can easily be changed and revised, but it shouldn’t be subject to whims. Give yourself time to settle into your rule of life so that it has time to shape your life.
“If you are weary of some sleepy form of devotion,
probably God is as weary of it as you are.”
Resources and Further Reading:
Adele Ahlberg Calhoun, Spiritual Disciplines Handbook: Practices That Transform Us Ruth Haley Barton, Sacred Rhythms: Arranging Our Lives for Spiritual TransformationMarjorie J. Thompson, Soul Feast: An Invitation to the Christian Spiritual LifeJohn Ortberg, The Life You’ve Always Wanted: Spiritual Disciplines for Ordinary PeopleDallas Willard, The Spirit of the Disciplines: Understanding How God Changes LivesCelebration of Discipline: The Path of Spiritual Growth – Richard Foster