My life is filled with habits, those little behavior patterns that I tend to repeat over and over. Some habits I embrace like a dear friend who helps me get through life by lessening my burdens. However, I also have some habits that seem to be like that pesky kid who used to pick on me, and at times made my life pretty miserable.
My friendly habits bring order to my life, such as the morning routines I run through from the time I wake up until I get into my car and drive to work. These friendly habits free my mind from the conscious decision-making of having to put on my seat belt before I drive the car, feeding the dog and fish, and many of life’s other routine chores. Whereas, my adversarial habits are those that push me to eat the things I shouldn’t eat or do things that are not beneficial. The really good news is that we are the ones in control of our own habits.
A habit is formed through the development of neural pathways in the brain. When we repeat a thought or action over and over, it builds a mental pathway. Eventually the neurological connection becomes so well-traveled that our thinking will become automatic. When we have bad habits, we can change them by choosing an alternative way of acting, and then following through with repeating that pattern until the new habit is formed. Not that this is easy in any way, but it can be done successfully—generally taking an average of 60-90 days.
The point I want to make is that we can control our lives—even simplifying the things we really want to do—all through the power of developing good and godly habits. We can also eliminate the habits that don’t really serve us, those things that instead enslave us to our carnal nature. We can do it if we are diligent enough to practice the new ways; eventually, they will replace the bad ways.
Here are some good habits to start working on.
Prayer and praise time every day
You will be amazed at the benefits of starting each day with some praise and worship time for God and the Lord Jesus. Make it a habit to sit with your morning coffee or tea, if even just for a few minutes, and give God all the cares on your heart. I consider this my time to check in with the “Boss” before I get my work day underway.
Reading your Bible regularly
Years ago I developed the habit of reading one Proverb, one Psalm, and one chapter from both the New and Old Testament. If you do this on a regular basis, not only will you be inspired for the day, you will also find that it will result in you reading Proverbs twelve times a year, Psalms almost three times, the New Testament twice and the Old Testament once. It is a great way to learn the Word of God, and it refreshes the soul like a cool drink of water on a hot day.
Doing acts of kindness
When we see others in need we can ignore them or we can develop the habit of stopping and offering assistance. If you have ever wanted to be the answer to another’s prayer, then this is a great way for God to work through you to bring that to pass.
I am amazed at how many opportunities arise that test my honesty, especially since I have become determined to make honesty a habit. It happens to us all the time, such as when we leave a store and weren’t properly charged for an item, or when we find something of value that someone else has lost. Many times we will not be thanked for our honesty, so we have to get to the point where acting righteously is its own reward, knowing our heavenly Father sees and that He will reward us richly for it.
Grow in giving
The world is constantly seeking to harden our hearts toward others, but God loves a generous giver. Giving can be a habit that we develop like anything else. Make it a habit to never miss an opportunity to give, even if it’s just your time or a prayer said for another.
Stopping ungodly speech
The tongue is an unruly child, especially when we are angry or afraid, but we have to learn to discipline it. Some fall into the habit of crude speech, which can be overcome when we refuse to say certain words. Let the rule be that you always strive so that your words are to the benefit of the “hearer,” not the one who is speaking.
Meeting with others
I’ve been attending or hosting a Home Church now for over forty years, and it is most definitely a habit, but that wasn’t always the case. It is something I look forward to because I make it about meeting with my friends and sharing our faith journey.
Take Away Lesson
Use habit formation to empower your life with consistent godly action.