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Writing Your Rule of Life

A Rule of Life is: 

  1. A set of guidelines and commitments directing one's life. The rule usually includes set times of daily prayer and meditation, study, and work or service. It can also include attending communal worship or meditation services, attending or making retreats, seeing a spiritual director, and fasting or other acts of discipline. A rule may be worked out with a spiritual director, or one may follow a shortened or modified version of the rule of a particular religious order. Some people commit to a rule that is basically a resolve to live with a certain disposition of prayer, study, and service.

  2. The document in which a religious community has formulated its fundamental understanding of spiritual life. Christian, Buddhist, Hindu and Jain monasteries all have rules. The early Christian model was the Rule of St. Augustine, in which spiritual principles are accompanied by simple regulations. It inspired the more elaborate Rule of St. Benedict and other monastic rules. 

Adapted from An Episcopal Dictionary of the Church, by Don S. Armentrout and Robert Boak Slocum, editors.


St. Benedict passing his Rule to the monks.

Buddhist Monastic Ordination.jpg

Buddhist monastic ordination.

If we feel called to a spiritual life, then a Rule is the container in which that life can be sustained.  It sets the commitments, the practices, and the boundaries needed to nurture the mustard seed of vocation so that it might grow into a great tree, providing nesting and shelter for abundant life.

There are often five parts to a Rule of Life: Relationship with Source, Healthy Body and Mind, Relationships with Others, Community, and Service.

Writing your Rule of Life takes time and focus. Set aside at least a full day or time on retreat, perhaps over several days. Another option is to take many weeks of shorter, focused periods of time building it incrementally. Often the work can be greatly assisted by regular spiritual direction.


Ask yourself, what commitments and habits will consistently build peace, joy, and growth in your life? Slow down, plan  prayerfully, and create space to focus on what calls you to deepening your inner life and creating a more joyful outer life. Imagine how you and the world around you would benefit when you are grounded in rest, renewal, and spiritual strength. 

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