The lead pastor of the NE community, Anthony (Tony) Opliger, recently shared an excellent teaching about building a “trellis” of intentional rhythms and practices to support and guide spiritual formation in Jesus. This “trellis” might also be described as a “rule of life,” a concept credited primarily to Benedict of Nursia, a monk who lived around AD 500.
Essentially, a rule of life takes a long view of who we believe God is calling us to be based on our gift(s) and passion(s) and the people He’s put us in relationship with, and then sets up intentional daily, weekly, monthly, semesterly and yearly practices to keep our trajectory faithfully aimed at that calling. One of the beauties of establishing a rule of life, is the way it provides freedom from what my good friend and brother-in-law Josh calls the “tyranny of our feelings.” Many devotional practices are contingent on whether or not we feel like it, potentially making circumstances and mood a prerequisite to pursuing some of the catalysts of our spiritual formation. Establishing a rule of life creates an expected rhythm that is, to an extent, already laid out for you, which can mitigate some of the needing-to-feel-up-to-it factor.
In future months, we may dig deeper into what it might look like for all of us to create our own personal rule of life, but for this month, we’re going to try out a specific, simple practice to see what God might do with all of us doing the same thing at the same time.
Enough preface, here’s the experiment for the month of February: every morning this month, take a moment to bow and pray The Lord’s Prayer.
- Bowing: Bowing is a posture of worship. It’s seen this way all through the Scripture. It’s a practical reminder that Jesus is King; like really, for real, actually King…right…now. It’s an appropriate response of humility to the One who “humbled Himself and became obedient to death, even death on a cross” and now has been given “the name that is above every name, that at the name of Jesus every knee should bow – in heaven, and on earth, and under the earth – and every tongue confess that Jesus Christ is Lord to the glory of God the Father.” When we bow, we agree with the shape of life in the Age to Come.
- The Lord’s Prayer: Jesus gave His disciples and the crowds a very practical model for prayer in his Sermon on the Mount. His followers over the last 2000 years have joined in this practice at different times in different ways, now it’s our turn! As you do this, specifically consider how missional this prayer is. Ask God to show you what role you can play in seeing His Kingdom come and will be done on earth as it is in heaven. Embrace not only how we are in constant need of His forgiveness, but how He puts us in the driver’s seat of forgiving others as well. There are a host of ways this prayer might do work in your heart this month, give it a shot!
If you’re interested, here’s a way to go one level deeper: invite someone else to do this practice with you. Not necessarily every day, but see what impact it might have to make it relational at some point this month. Think about who you might invite along (kids, spouse, parents, a friend), and see what happens.
I’m very expectant that God wants to advance His Kingdom in our hearts, our families, our church and our community. I’m hopeful that these small things will keep us in a posture of worship and prepare us for the moments where we can play a role in that.
Please share any stories or insights, thanks for being a part of this!