Hopefully you have connected with God and experienced His love and presence in refreshing and life giving ways during these past 6 weeks of FORMED. But we don't want to stop now. We don't want what God has been doing in our lives to stay confined to the past month and a half. We want to continue to intentionally pursue Jesus and live our lives in such a way that we are regularly enjoying the presence of God as the Holy Spirit is daily forming us more and more into the image of Christ. The best way for this to happen is to establish habits and rhythms that encourage us to intentionally choose Jesus each day and let His transforming power make us more like Him. The ancient practice of establishing a rule for life can help us in this. The goal is that we can take the momentum we have from FORMED, as well as what we have learned from the formational practices we've participated in the last 6 weeks, and craft a rule for life that includes daily, weekly, and monthly habits that shape our hearts to be like the heart of Christ.
Formational Practice: Rule For Life
"A rule for life offers unique and regular rhythms that free and open each person to the will and presence of Christ. The Spiritual practices of a rule provide a way to partner with the Holy Spirit for personal transformation." (Spiritual Disciplines Handbook by Adele Ahlberg Calhoun, 35)
"A "rule" is a set of habits you commit to in order to grow in your love of God and neighbor." (The Common Rule by Justin Whitmel Earley, 21).
"A rule for life is a simple statement of the regular rhythms we choose in order to present our bodies to God as our "spiritual act of worship" (Romans 12:1). Each rule, or rhythm, is a way we partner with God for the transformation only he can bring. Rules keep our lives from devolving into unintended chaos. They aren't a burdensome list of do's and don'ts, enumerating everything you might do in a day. Life-giving rules are a brief and realistic scaffold of disciplines that support your heart's desire to grow in loving God and others." (Spiritual Disciplines Handbook by Adele Ahlberg Calhoun, 36)
For help in writing a rule for life I want to recommend the book The Common Rule by Justin Whitmel Earley. It is simple and accessible, especially if you have never written a rule for life before. You can go to https://www.thecommonrule.org/resources and click on one of the templates and fill in your email address in order to receive free downloadable resources to help you. If you are able to read the book that is helpful, but you can still learn a lot from the website and available resources.
Here is also a section from the Spiritual Disciplines Handbook on "Writing a Rule":
"1. When and where do you feel closest to God? How do you enter most deeply into an awareness of his love for you?
Pay attention to the experiences, practices and relationships that draw you toward God. Are there particular practices that open you to God?
Are there practices that seem to stymie you?
2. What is most important to you?
What gives you sense of security and self-worth?
What would people who know you best say it's like to live and work with you?
Where do your relationships need attention?
Who do you want to become?
What receives the most attention in your life? Your spouse? Job? Family? Friends? Hobbies? (These are not bad things. But when we love them more than God, we have an idol in our heart.)
If you had six months to live, how would you spend your time?
If you could write your own eulogy, what would you want to say?
3. What do you currently do to realize your goals and longings? Work? Study? Pray? Network? Socialize?
Which of these things hinder and help your spiritual journey?
4. What practices suit your daily, monthly and yearly rhythms and cycles?
What limitations are built into your life at this moment?
What longings remain steady throughout?
What responsibilities and rhythms change with various seasons?
5. Where do you want to change? Where do you feel powerless to change? Ask the Holy Spirit to help you do through grace what you cannot do through effort alone.
6. Choose several disciplines that arise from your desire for God's transforming work and that suit the limits and realities of your life. Begin your practice.
Sample Rules For Life
Dedicate every day (in the morning) for the glory of God.
Confess my sins before I go to bed.
Worship the Lord alone and with others.
Practice the presence of God.
Don't hold grudges-forgive others.
Pray for others.
See my spiritual director once a month.
Give all wandering thoughts to my Savior. (Calhoun, 37-38)"
I want to encourage us all to write a rule for life using one or both of the two resources I just mentioned. Your rule will be best practiced if you practice it with others. Talk and pray with your spouse, roommate, friend, etc. as you are writing your rule for life, and find ways to practice your rule with those you are already doing life with.
GC Ideas: Discuss with your GC how your experience during FORMED was. What did you learn? How do you feel God communicated to you? What helped you feel closer to God/experience His love? What was encouraging? How do you want to continue to build upon what God did in your life during FORMED?
Discuss writing a rule for life with your GC.