I had a mentor once who asked me a question that was simple yet convicting.
He said, “When you pray, what do you do?”
That day, I realized that I did not have a rule or method of prayer. It seems entirely strange to me that no one ever taught me how to pray and that I could go so many years spending many hours in prayer and have never established a method that would make my use of time effective and keep continuity from day to day.
Discipleship has Not Always Been This Ad Hoc
When I was a new Christian, I was very intrigued by Francis of Assisi. It was said that Francis and the friars had in their habit with them at all times a “rule” - the rule of the Franciscans. Here, the Franciscans could in a few simple pages tell people how they lived. The rule made it very easy for a person to enter the life of the community. The rule is simple and well organized and attempts to codify what Francis saw as the Gospel's path to the beautiful life.
This practice is all but lost in the Protestant church. It seems that we approach our spirituality with no method of community management, family management, or self management. This ad hoc approach to life and spiritual growth is ineffective. If a man was to approach the management of his business like this, he would fail. We would consider such a disorganized person a fool.
It is the work of the manager to do the deep thinking necessary to come up with plans and methods to implement and execute his plans. God expects the same from us in our spiritual lives if we are to be good stewards of our selves and our time, our families and our responsibilities in the church.
As this blog develops, one outcome this year will be the publishing of a prayer method from the Lord’s Prayer. Other goals I have for this year include developing a “Family Constitution” with my wife and with some input from the kids.
Without a standard and a plan there is no monitoring, no self-assessment and ultimately no change.
Do you desire change? Make detailed plans of how things ought to be. Make a rule of sorts. Make a rule for your prayer life, a rule for the home, and a rule for your ministries. Then, humbly self assess.
Without clear plans there can be no lasting change.
Indeed, we need to manage our spirituality.