The word “rule” has some negative connotations today. No one likes being told what to do, and everyone values independence to make his own choices. However, the word “rule” does not just mean some certain commandment we must keep or law we must obey. When Anglicans use the word “rule” we mean “the principle by which we order our lives.” Everyone orders their lives around the thing which they value the most (whether they realize it or not!) For example, the person who values his career above all things will go to work day in and day out, check emails and messages, schedule meetings, travel on business, and order his entire life around the habits of work. Sure, he may value other aspects of his life (e.g., family) but all of the other important things orbit around his career (not to imply that work or career is bad or unnecessary!).
What if Christians ordered their daily lives around Jesus Christ? What would it look like to have the habits of prayer be central to our lives rather than the habits of work or the habits of leisure? A medieval saint, Saint Benedict, also thought about this question and answered it by creating a “rule” to order his life and the lives of his monks around the most important thing: prayer. Anglicans are inheritors of the Benedictine tradition in that we pray from the Book of Common Prayer (BCP). Every morning and evening Anglicans throughout the world pray theses liturgies (or ‘Offices’) where we confess our sins, sing God’s praises, hear the Bible read aloud, and “to ask those things which are requisite and necessary, as well for the body as the soul.” (BCP page 6). Daily prayer as the Christian’s work for God comes from the Benedictine principle of ‘Ora et Labora’ (Prayer and Work).
The Daily Offices are available at Saint Paul’s Church Monday through Friday at 7:30 am & 4:00 pm respectively. However, if you cannot make it to the parish, there are resources to help you keep the “rule” in your own life. One needs only a BCP and a Bible to be able to do it, but there are websites that will organize all the readings for you like Common Prayer. If you prefer to listen to the Offices and pray along, they are available at the Cradle of Prayer (also now a podcast on iTunes).
Take the first step in making the Gospel the center of your life. This is one of the many ways in which Saint Paul’s Church seeks to form her members after the likeness of the Lord Jesus Christ and give everyone a “rule for life” that they might be able to live in such a way that honors Christ and expands His Kingdom.