So, for example, my Rule prescribes brief prayers around lunchtime and again shortly before I go to bed. This time last year, I was trying to say Compline each night, but I skipped at least as often as I did it. Thanks to the practice of my Rule, now I virtually never miss. Lunchtime prayers have been trickier, but I am getting better.
My hope is that, over time, prayers throughout the day will become absolutely second nature. I am not there yet, but I am farther along than I was.
What this has meant in practice is a certain legalism up front. I say my evening prayers whether or not I feel like it and whether or not my heart is really in it. I do that because I am cultivating the habit of prayer. As the habit forms, I increasingly say the prayers as a matter of course. It is no longer an obligation; it is just something I do. And, as the habit deepens, the words of the prayers begin to seep into my soul. Frequent repetition is making the words of the prayers more meaningful to me.
Formal prayers repeated from memory to fulfill a Rule are not enough taken alone. We all need to spend time with God, speaking from the heart and listening for what God might say in response. But the formal prayers as prescribed by my Rule have clearly deepened my prayer life. And that is ample reason to be grateful for having a Rule!