For centuries, Christian practice has involved regula, which is Latin for "rule". I prefer to think of regula as a railing, something to hold onto as one ventures toward a goal. In recent years, I have found more and more need for a railing -- because of the steep slopes that fall away from it. On one side of the railing is the slope of distraction. And the distractions are increasing. It is estimated that a person living in the US receives an average of 1,000 electronic messages a day -- telling us that our hair needs to be a different color, that our bodies need to have a different shape, that we need to know and buy and do different things. These messages are constant and consistent -- and after awhile we wear down and are tempted to believe them.
On the other side of the railing is the slope of temptation -- the temptation to think that we don't need God. That we have enough energy and wisdom -- and electronic devices of our own, to get us through life.
Besides, God is busy. There is the economy and Afghanistan and tragedy for God to worry about. We are led to think that we can get by on our own.
I have found that the railing of practice is a much needed anchor to the distractions and temptations that we face. Life, as my friend has said, is worth practicing.