Benedict: A Life of Listening

Many centuries ago, one hero of the faith chose purposefully to live the Christian faith counter-culturally. Around A.D. 540, Benedict developed a rule of life for faithful followers of Christ. In the midst of increasing religious and secular pressures, Benedict began the journey of discerning the will of God for himself and those he lived with.

In his classic “Little Rule for Beginners” Benedict’s opening word is Listen! He offers a way of listening in a safe, faith-filled community environment. Here God’s voice can be heard by those seeking him through humility and obedience. In community, like-minded and like-heated believers best learn to practice the disciplines of prayer, healthy relationships and good works.

According to Benedict, God becomes the primary informant of the heart and mind when believers learn to listen to his voice. Out of this posture of listening, God calls each one to loving intimacy in prayer, faith and life. Such a disciplined journey may be difficult at first, Benedict confesses, but “as we progress in this life and in faith, our hearts will expand with the inexpressible joy of love as we run the way of God’s commandments.” Thus the ultimate outcome of living by a rule of life is joy. Loving worship and faith-filled service to God produces pure joy. This is the pathway to the abundance of life.

Benedict thought and prayed about how best to live for God in this world. His classic rule was crafted in isolation, but tested and transformed in community. In a cave near the Anio River in Subiaco, Italy, Benedict came to the full realization that God’s call was toward humility, as expressed both in contemplation (a life of prayer) and community (a life of love). This twofold priority became the backbone of Benedict’s rule of life.

Is it time for you to “cave away” from the busyness and noise of this world and listen humbly to the gentle voice of God? To discover your own personal rule of life takes time and concerted effort; you must listen to God and discern what he wants you to be and do for his glory. Fulfilling a personal rule of life, centered in the pursuit of a well-developed spiritual life within a predominantly secular society, is difficult to say the least. But it’s certainly not impossible.

Set apart time to prayerfully listen and then write out what you sense is God’s invitation to your life. If you need help crafting your personal rule of life be sure to consult for resources for this journey.

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