In part one; I mentioned that it was my plan to write part 2 on the most important spiritual discipline. Nevertheless, as I was preparing, I thought it necessary to first write regarding how we order our lives. It is not enough to tell people that they should pray more, read the Bible, etc. For the simple fact is that the outward structure of many people’s lives prohibits the practice of certain spiritual disciplines and good habits. As an example, when I grew up, my family did not go to church. Friday night and Saturday night were party nights! At its worst this involved getting drunk and partying into the early hours of the morning. When I became a Christian, I still had this habit. To take my faith seriously required some changing on my part. Getting drunk had to go! But also partying on Saturday night at all, even “wholesome,” or “Christian” partying had to stop for me. For socializing late Saturday night tended to result in either sleeping through church, or being late for church on Sunday morning. Being habitually late for church Sunday morning invariably meant that instead of arriving at church early or on time and in a prayerful spirit, that Sunday mornings were rushed and hectic. When I arrived at church (late!), I was in anything but a prayerful mood. It took me a long time to learn that people who arrive early for church have time to collect themselves and prepare, and will simply get more out of the service.
Many Orthodox Christians have ordered their lives so that Saturday evening is not a social/party evening anymore. Friday nights – yes, but not Saturday nights! They come to church for vespers instead – and so add more prayer and worship to their life, and then after vespers plan something that won’t go late, but allows them to get to bed early and arrive on time for church Sunday morning. This pattern amounts to probably the single most important preparation for the Divine Liturgy, and receiving Holy Communion that we can do.
This is a different way to order one’s life, but one that I strongly recommend! This is a practical step that anyone can take to making God and your spiritual life more of a priority in your life. Before proceeding on to spiritual habit #1, next week we will discuss what should govern (i.e. what principles should guide) the outward ordering of our lives.