A Personal Rule of Life

Last time, I said I would reflect on my own personal Rule of Life. This is not an advertisement for what I am doing. It is rather the result of how I have worked out my own Christian pilgrimage over years. It works for me because I have lived in it and changed it organically. I used to have a complex Rule of Life, but it has gotten simpler over the years as I have shaped it to my life. It may or may not fit someone else’s. I only share it as one concrete example of how a particular Christian (me) lives out his Christian life.

I will lay out my Rule of Life, and then say a brief word about each part. Remember, this is how I try to keep Christ at the centre of my life.

1) Morning Affirmations and Study

My best time is first thing in the morning. I often get up before everyone else and get a cup of coffee. I begin by thanking God for the day and go through my morning affirmations. These are personal reminders to myself before God of who I want to be through the day and the things I want to keep in mind.

I am trying to live as a third order Franciscan, so I read one of the principles. This serves to remind me about being an instrument of peace. Then I pray that God will use me during this day. I remind myself of how I want to eat and exercise, that I want to live a centred life that is focused. Finally, I remind myself of the beauty of God’s world, and pray that I won’t walk around blind to the glories of life, but that I will have eyes to see and ears to hear. I then take the time to read and enjoy the quiet.

2) Morning Prayer

This is now done online with a small community of worshippers, and it is one of the best things that has happened in my ministry. I see this as a work of God in the midst of the pandemic. I also take the time to pray for the people on my personal prayer list.

3) Noonday Prayer

This is a pause in the middle of the day. It is not long, only three minutes. I use prayers from a book called Common Prayer: Liturgy for Ordinary Radicals. I use this book three times a day. It comes from the work of Shane Claiborne and Jonathan Wilson-Hartgrove, two Christian leaders who have been invaluable to me in understanding what the Gospel is. They, along with N.T. Wright and Eugene Peterson, are probably my biggest influences.

4) Evening Prayer (20 minutes of contemplative prayer)

This is usually before dinner. The prayers are short, but the heart of it is 20 minutes of contemplative prayer. This is done in silence with open heart. I won’t talk about silence here, except to note that this silence is integral to my life.

5) Examen

At the end of the day, I say a few short prayers. Sometimes I use the form of Compline, often from the Celtic prayer book from the Northumbria Community. But the centre is checking in with God and myself about how I fulfilled the affirmations over the course of the day. It is never a time of judgement, just a time of honesty when I fall short, and thankfulness when I live it out. I also look for the ways that God has spoken through the day and thank him for the day. Then I turn on Netflix for my evening TV.

6) Read some scripture

I try to read the Bible though regularly. This is just two or three chapters a day. It takes about a year and a half to get through the whole thing, then I start again.

When you lay it out, it might sound like a lot, but it really isn’t. What is important is not the amount. Please understand that. It is the REGULARITY. The best thing you can do for your life as a Christian is to find a rhythm that is workable and allows you to show up everyday. For the marathon of life, there is just no substitute for a personal Rule of Life.

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