Practicing the Disciplines
What are my spiritual disciplines?
Designing a Rule of Life
What Is It?
A rule of life is a personal plan or pattern of spiritual disciplines that provides structure and direction for growth in holiness. The call to holiness is an ancient, yet always applicable, practice of drawing closer to God. Perhaps the Christian concept of developing personal holiness has been emphasized less in recent years? Our responses will be personal. The purpose of the rule of life is to focus our hearts and minds on God’s invitation for us to be holy, as God is holy; to grow in greater intimacy with the One we are created to resemble.
Beloved, we are God’s children now; what we will be has not yet been revealed. What we do know is this: when he is revealed, we will be like him, for we will see him as he is.—I John 3:2
Why am I being invited to incorporate these disciplines into my life?
The ultimate answer is to be inspired, transformed and empowered for your unique mission. For a Community of Christ congregation, the Temple Grove and Burning Bush display remind us of the call to Hear Ye Him. A formative movement on the path of a disciple is to move closer to God through spiritual renewal. Our congregation is com-mitted to going deeper in discipleship by renewing our inner, spiritual selves.
Designing a rule of life is one assurance that we are com-mitted to becoming a transformed people. That includes being spiritually prepared to hear and to do the will of God. Importantly, kingdom missions require personal response to Christ as stewards of mission.
Stewardship is the response of my people to the ministry of my Son and is required alike of all who seek to build the kingdom. —Doctrine and Covenants 147:5a
A disciple’s generosity is directly intertwined with a personal walk with Christ, through interactions with the Holy Spirit. To be a Christian disciple involves personal time with God—as Jesus took time while ministering in the flesh.
How Do I Start?
The congregation is preparing to receive an evangelist blessing. We seek to be blessed to be a blessing to others.
We all are encouraged to contact an evangelist or another entrusted caregiver to discuss ways to respond. You are invited to participate in a spiritual support group.
Examples of Personal Rules
When Pope John XXIII was a seminary student, he included the following elements in his rule:
- When rising: 15 minutes of silent prayer and 15 minutes of spiritual reading.
- Before sleeping: A general examination of conscience followed by confession; then, identifying issues for the next morning’s prayers.
- Arrange the hours of the day to make the rule possible, setting aside specific time for prayer, study, recreation, and sleep (balance).
- Making a habit of turning the mind to God in prayer.
Martin Luther King Jr. developed a rule to guide the non-violent protests of the civil-rights movement. His rule emphasized the spiritual principle and inner attitudes under-girding one’s action, although it also included specific practices like meditation, prayer, and service.
- Meditate daily on the teachings and life of Jesus.
- Remember always that the nonviolent movement in Birmingham seeks justice and reconciliation, not victory.
- Walk and talk in the manner of love, for God is love.
- Pray daily to be used by God in order that all might be free.
- Sacrifice personal wishes that all might be free.
- Observe with friend and foe the ordinary rule of courtesy.
- Seek to perform regular service for others and the world.
- Refrain from violence of fist, tongue, or heart.
- Strive to be in good spiritual and bodily health.
A rule of life is not meant to be restrictive, although it asks for genuine commitment. It is meant to help us to establish a rhythm of daily living, a basic order within which new freedom can grow. —Marjorie J. Thompson, Soul Feast, page 138
It should be clear that from these examples that there is great latitude in a personal rule of life. Your rule will be unique to your circumstances, personality, and needs, yet in harmony with the basic historic practices of Christian life and faith throughout the centuries. Let us choose to be open to God’s blessings by becoming present to God. Transforming encounters await those who design and practice their rule of life. We promise.