Monday, January 31, 2005

developing a rule of life

One of the books I have been reflecting on lately is Centering Prayer by Basil Pennington. He outlines a “rule of life”, a simple way to develop our priorities and keep faithfully to them. Here is a summary. Try this as a spiritual exercise.

1. God is infinite, and can do all things, but my gifts, talents and opportunities narrow the possibilities. What do I most want to do or pursue? Write this down on a piece of paper, as simply and as clearly as possible.
2. What do I need to do or have in order to attain these goals? Be realistic. Keep in mind commitments to family and work, and the time and season of life.
3. Look at the immediate past. What has prevented me from doing what I need or want to do? What are the obstacles? I will begin to develop a practical program to reach my goals. Some things can be done daily. Others can be done weekly. Take one three hour period, once a month, to review steps one through three.
4. Formulate a “rule of life”. This is the most difficult step. Make hard choices. Do the things that are most important. Make regular appointments in your spiritual life: times to read the Bible, pray, and serve those in need. Find someone---a friend, a mentor, your husband or wife---who will hold you accountable. If you try this exercise, let me know how it goes.


Blogger kathleen said...


I am a friend of Margaret's. We met at her house once. I attend Main Street UMC in Kernersville. I wrote my rule of life this summer after what seems like a lifetime of searching for God. If I have learned nothing else from my rule it is this: God is in the silence and the nothingness. I remember my spiriutal director asked me what prompted me to write my rule. We had never discussed a rule of life. She seemed surprised I would write a rule of life. She told me I was too young. She asked me if I was on the fast tract to sainthood. I never was sure what she meant. She has since retired and I am looking for another spiriutal director. I too had been reading Basil Pennington' Centering Prayer and The Rule of St. Benedict and Henri Nouwen's The Only Necessary Thing. I explained to her that it seemed the best way to keep myself on track and at the same time not be caught up in a preformance standard. I am one of the weary goal oriented Christians who knows she could perfect prayer, spiritual disciplines, etc. as long as I tried hard enough and still not be fulfilled. I realized after much struggle it is not about preformance. The spiritual life lies in being transformed by the journey not just making the journey. A favorite quote of mine from a Jewish Rabbi: "Birth is the beginning, death is the destination and life is the journey. The victory lies in having made the journey." Those are my meager thoughts on what a rule of life has done for me.

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