A Rule of Life – Sacred Rhythms

As this year comes to a close I am starting to work on a “Rule of Life.” A “Rule of Life” is simply “intentional pattern of spiritual disciplines that provides structure and direction for growth in holiness. A Rule establishes a rhythm for life in which is helpful for being formed by the Spirit, a rhythm that reflects a love for God and respect for how he has made us.” Here are some selections from Ruth Haley Barton’s Sacred Rhythms on the “Rule of Life.”


Christian tradition has a name for the structure that enables us to say yes to the process of spiritual formation day in and day out. It is called a rule of life. A rule of life seeks to respond to two questions: who do I want to be? How do I want to live? Actually it might be more accurate to say that a rule of life seeks to address the interplay between these two questions: How do I want to live so I can be who I want to be? (147)

I prefer the language of rhythm because it speaks of a regularity that the body and soul can count on, but it also speaks of ebb and flow, creativity and beauty, music and dancing, joy and giving ourselves over to a force or power that is beyond our selves and is deeply good. (147-148)

Our rhythm of spiritual practices also needs to be ruthlessly realistic in view of our stage of life… If we do not take into account a realistic assessment of our stage of life we are doomed to fail. (149)

One of the great temptations of the spiritual life is to believe that if I were in another season of life, I could be more spiritual. The truth is that spiritual transformation takes place as we embrace the challenges and opportunities associated with each season of our life… Our expectations about ordering our life during the different seasons need to take into account what’s real and what can’t be changed; otherwise we set ourselves up for frustration and failure. (149)

The process of beginning to cultivate our own rhythm of spiritual practices begins with attending to our desire, noticing what words, phrases and prayers seem to most consistently capture our sense of longing for God. (151)


Published by cwoznicki

Chris Woznicki is an Assistant Adjunct Professor of Theology at Fuller Theological Seminary. He works as the regional training associate for the Los Angeles region of Young Life.

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