On the last morning of Journey retreat #1 (which I enjoyed a week ago with Generation 22), I talk about the theme of “Rhythm of Life.” The more traditional idea is a “rule of life.” I came across this recently in my reading:
“[Quoting then Dean of the Episcopal Theological Seminary in Cambridge, MA] The adoption of a rule of life is the declaration of our belief that prayer and personal religion will be developed only as we regularly and devotedly pay attention to them. It is to exercise consistently those parts of our life that have to do with our inner relation to God. This is to recognize that prayer, simply when we feel like praying or “when the spirit moves us,” is never enough to build on, and that progress is never made when all is left to chance or our emotions. A rule of life affirms that, once having decided what is everlastingly true concerning our devotional life, we then commit ourselves to the best way we know of getting there and abide by the rule as well as we can, come what may.” (Trueblood, Elton. The Lord’s Prayers. New York: Harper & Row, Publishers, 1965, p. 28.)
A rule of life, in this sense, is an acknowledgement that merely spontaneous prayer is not a foundation on which to build a deeply rooted communion with God. Growth in prayer is not dependent on a consistent and effusive inclination towards God, but often requires a resolve to place myself before the God I cannot sense or discern in a particular moment (or even season).
In the same way that an athlete seeking after high performance needs a consistent training plan and schedule she remains faithful to whether her “feel like it” is high or low, so we need simple, practicable rhythms to place ourselves before God day-by-day and even moment-by-moment.
If you’d like to explore this theme further, I highly recommend Stephen Macchia’s book on the theme, Crafting a Rule of Life. I had the pleasure of enjoying breakfast with Steve a few weeks ago while he was out here in California. He’s a person who lives what he shares, and shares what he lives.
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