When you get up in the morning, you likely have a routine to get your body ready for the day. You brush your teeth, wash your face, take a shower, comb your hair, eat breakfast, etc. You may not  do all of this the same way and at the same time  others  do it; but it is done.

Without taking care of your body, you would soon fall apart. Without  exercise  your muscles atrophy, without food  your  body starves, without washing your body smells abominable. You  learn this care when you are young, and it becomes a habit. It is  not something you think about. It is something you just do.

A  spiritual rule of life has the same purpose; but most  of us  did  not have spiritual habits drummed into us when  we  were children.  Brushing your teeth and washing your face  and  hands were  one  thing; saying your prayers and going  to  church  were another. Reading the Bible was something someone else did to you in Sunday School.

A Rule of Life is a set of habits I adopt to take care of my spiritual relationship to myself and to God. That care in  turn, affects my relationship to everyone else I encounter in life. If I  choose  to nurture my spirit with the same concern I  give  my body,  I must find and adopt a rule for regular care and  nurture of the spirit.


When  you  set out to take care of the body, you  make  sure that  you keep it clean and groomed, you feed it right,  and  you exercise. You protect it from external threats to your health as far as you can, and you see that it gets proper treatment when it is diseased in some way.

The same holds true with the spirit. We do not always think and do the things that we would like to think and do. Paul makes the point that he (and most of us identify with him) intends with his  mind to serve God, but there is something else that at  work in  his members. The good he would do, he does not; the evil  he would not do, seems always at hand.

Paul  continues, "There is now therfore no condemnation  for those who are in Christ Jesus." God has prepared a way for us to be made clean. I must make the choice of leaving my spirit  with my life's dirt and grime smeared over it, or turn to God and  ask Him to remove it.

That  entails some form of confession, offering my dirt  and grime to Abba so He might clean it up. It is much like I do when I  turn  the shower on the external dirt and grime to  remove  it from the skin. I give particular attention to the obvious spots, but  I wash me all over. In confession I give particular  attention  to  the  obvious sins, but I ask God to  cleanse  my  whole interior.

I eat good food if I want to stay healthy. There are  times when  I eat an overabundance of dessert, but I make sure that  my body gets fed a balanced diet, and at times may add a vitamin  or two to supplement the food.

For  my spirit's health, I make sure that I feed it  healthy spiritual food. I read the Scriptures and other spiritual  books or  writings, and I worship regularly at Communion.  The  church established the canon of Scripture to be the measure of all other writing. If I am going to relate to the God who revealed Himself in  Jesus  Christ,  I will use Scripture to  evaluate  the  other things  that I read, which may throw new light on  Scripture  for me.

I may read a lot of other things that are fun to read, but I must see that my daily intake has sufficient spiritual  nutrition to  assure a healthy spirit within me. Just as I cannot live  on dessert, I cannot live on frothy literature or conversation.

I must also exercise my spirit, if I want it to be  healthy. Just  as  the  body will atrophy without exercise,  so  will  the spirit  without exercise. Just as breathing is essential to  the working  of the body, prayer is essential to the working  of  the spirit.

Prayerobic  exercise includes the breathing and the work  of receiving  and giving.  In an age wherein we  hear  much  about giving to others, we must also be aware of the necessity that  we first receive. We cannot give away anything we don't have anymore than we can come back some some place we haven't been. Spiritual exercise  entails our receiving from God and giving to  those  to whom we are directed.

First,  we receive from Jesus. He must wash our feet if  we are  going  to have a part in Him. We give as  stewards  of  His things,  as  He directs, to others. We are not given so  we  can keep it all to ourselves. It is said IMpression without  EXpression yields DEpression.

We  normally call prayerobics, ministry. In reality  it  is our habitual exercising of the spirit through prayer and work, as the body uses breathing and physical exercise. It involves  both the element of prayer and the element of work.

Prayer  also keeps us in touch with Abba, who  is  directing the  program. When we seek to walk with Him, He keeps us  clean, feeds  us  good nourishment, and uses us in  the  ministries  for which He created us. So we can see the elements of a rule in the way we normally take care of our bodies.

The rule must include prayer, study and fellowship, and some sort  of stewardship of what we have been given by God. What  we call ministry is simply the stewardship of God's gifts as we  use them at His direction.


The  Order of St. Luke has developed a Rule of Life for  its members that includes the above elements for those who  do  not have a rule or whose rule might not be complete. In my own life, I had a rule, but I found I had to fill in the gaps with some  of the elements of the Rule of the Order

1.  I will PRAY daily for this work (the ministry of  healing),  remembering  to  use the Lord's Prayer  with  the  special intention  that God's will may be done in me and in all  mankind. I  will  use the special prayer for St. Luke's  Day  at  frequent intervals.

Jesus  taught us to pray for God's Kingdom to come on  earth as  in heaven. We may use that prayer with special  intent  that the  Kingdom  come in some particular person or  some  particular situation. It is, in fact, a healing prayer when used that  way. You  simply put the name of the person or the situation in  those places  where you ask God to act.

All  prayer  for  healing is for God's will to  be  done  in bringing  His  wholeness into our disease. Our prayer is  not  to change God's mind; it is to open the way for His will to be done. The prayer for St. Luke's Day is for God to continue His  healing work in the church to His glory.

2.  I  will  CULTIVATE a personal prayer life  and  seek  a closer walk with Jesus Christ, our Savior and Healer.

Prayer is a dialog with God. He has spoken the first  Word. That Word was made flesh and we are to respond to Him. It is  in conversation  that we come to know one another. It is in  prayer as dialog that we come to know God.

We  reveal ourselves in what we say; we come to know  others in  what we hear them say. Prayer must include listening to  God as  well as talking to Him. You cannot continue to  breathe  out unless you also breathe in. In exercise we breath out waste from the body's metabolism; in prayer we breathe out our disease.  In exercise we breathe in oxygen for our body's health; in prayer we breathe in the Spirit of God for our total well being.

3. I will PRAY for the whole Body of Christ for the purpose of supporting the Scriptural intent that the whole Body  "upbuild itself in love." (Eph 4:16)

In  my conversation with God, I will recognize that  He  has not called me in isolation, but together with ALL of His children whom He has called to be His family. It is easy to find fault in others;  it is essential to pray for our union with God and  with one  another, that the world might see us as a single Body  whose bond of love is our witness to the presence of God's Kingdom.

4. I will READ from the New Testament daily.

There is a difference between the Old and the New Testaments as  there is difference between Law and Gospel. We read the  Old as Law and Prophecy of the New in which God has made a new  covenant with us. The Old Testament tells us of a covenant that  was impossible for us to keep. The New tells us of a covenant  which God enables us to keep by His healing love that He reveals in His Son, Jesus Christ. It is this healing love that we need to  feed into  our  soul  and spirit. (This rule does not  mean  that  we neglect to read the Old Testament.)

5. I will RECEIVE Holy Communion regularly.

All  traditions do not celebrate Holy Communion on the  same schedule; but they do all celebrate on a regular basis.  Regular may  mean  one thing to one person and another thing  to  someone else. It does mean that we will receive Holy Communion in accord with our tradition's regular celebration.

We are to find in our communion, a union with God in  Christ and with one another (discerning the Body) so that we might  find it a source of health for ourselves and for the Body of Christ.

6. I will SEEK such health of body, soul and spirit as will make me capable of maximum vocation.

The  purpose of my rule is to get healthy and stay  healthy. Just  as  I would seek medical treatment for an illness,  I  will seek  prayer for the healing of any disease. Since I am  seeking to  become whole and not just functional, I will seek prayer  for little things as well as serious ones. I can exercise better  as a  totally whole person than as one with physical  or  spiritual aches and pains.

7. I will CULTIVATE the gifts God has given me for the work of  healing by study, active service, and by giving heed  to  the revelation God gives in particular circumstances.

This  rule asks us to practice using the gifts we have  been given. It is more than learning and following some technique  or method. It means learning to work WITH God rather than FOR  God, to  become  a participant rather than a spectator. We  learn  to listen to God as well as to the ones to whom we are to minister.

The most important things in our lives we learn from  doing. We  learn  to  talk by talking, to walk by walking,  to  love  by loving. We learn to minister by ministering. The first part  of ministering is learning to listen. We do that by listening,  and then  offering to pray for and with the one we perceive as  God's beloved. We do this as God leads.

8.  I will SEEK continued growth as an instrument our  Lord can use for the healing of others.

We  are not yet perfected. I will continue to look for  the next  lesson  from God. I will acknowledge that I still  do  not know  everything.  I will be pleased with what I  have  received from God, but I will not be satisfied to stop where I am at  this moment in my life. We see now in a glass, darkly; but we seek to see Him face to face.

9. I will SHARE this healing gospel with others by personal witness, by praying with others, by supporting SHARING  MAGAZINE, by circulating healing literature, and by contributing  according to my ability.

I will be a good steward of what God has committed to me. I will  not bury my talent in a napkin. I will invest it as  I  am led by God. This rule pertains to our putting all of the rest of the rules into action in our lives. It is our response to  God's question, "What are you doing with My things?"

10. I will ATTEMPT all of this so far as I am able with  the help of God.

The last statement of our rule makes clear that we do not do God's work in our strength. We are to exercise the authority  of Jesus in the power of Holy Spirit. Our rule is to keep us  mindful  that  we do not work FOR God so much as work WITH  God.  We ask,  and  expect  to receive His grace to do with  Him  that  we cannot do by ourselves.


If  I have never tried to follow a rule, it is difficult  to just jump in and go. The Rule of the Order suggests the elements that are necessary for a rule. It must be adapted to your way of life if it is to help you grow.

You should select a time for doing the elements of your rule just as you pick a time to eat, a time to go to bed or a time  to get  up in the morning. A particular time helps you develop  the habit  of keeping the rule. It may be morning noon or night,  as long as it can become a habit.

You  should  select a regular place, particularly  for  your prayerobics. A place where prayer is offered regularly, soon has a feeling of warmth that comes from the presence of God where you meet Him. Prayer becomes easier and more comfortable as you take time in silence to listen to God.

Don't try to do it all at once. The Lord's Prayer is a good place to begin. Read a bit of the New Testament, perhaps one  of the  healing stories from the Gospels. Talk to God about one  of the people you know who needs ministry and try to work with  that one initially.

As you become accustomed to meeting God daily, you will  add to your rule as God leads. It will be easier as it becomes a new habit.  As your spirit grows, so will its desire to  spend  this time with Abba.

If  you try to do too much initially, there is a  temptation to  give up. If you make it too easy, it does not exercise  your spirit  sufficiently for growth. A rule should perhaps  be  just out of reach. Enough to make you stretch your spirit, yet  close enough that you do not despair of developing the habit.

The only way to begin is to decide what you will to do,  and start  out. There will be adjustments, but there will also be  a dimension of stability to your life and growth that you will find in no other way.

Most people find it helpful to have a spiritual director  or soul  friend  with whom they can talk about their rule  and  what they  might do to change it as they grow. There is often a  need to  talk about the weaknesses that beset us, and how to  overcome them. Ask the Lord if He would have you use a spiritual director or soul friend. If He says, "Yes," ask Him to whom you should go to seek that support.

A spiritual rule is not always an easy thing to acquire  and use, but we would not want to quit brushing our teeth or  bathing because it was difficult. We pursue the goal because it is  very important to our health.

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