Getting godly habits going

Getting godly habits going

It’s that time of year where so many start to consider starting good habits in their lives: the time of new year’s resolutions, the upsurge in gym memberships, and the start of many Bible reading plans for Christians. The problem is that life is quieter right now and doing these things is easier. When real life hits with a return to work, the church calendar stepping up, and school and university returning, so often good intentions end up remaining only good intentions. Then we can add guilt on top of everything else!

This blog post aims to give some practical advice for how to get habits to stick. The ideal situation is where we get into godly habits so that we don’t need to convince ourselves to do something every single time. It should be automatic, just part of our routine.

The first step is to make sure that we are focussing on the right priorities. Paul tells Timothy in 1 Timothy 6:6 that godliness with contentment is great gain, so working towards those ends will be worthwhile. You could do this by pursuing righteousness, godliness, faith, love, steadfastness and gentleness (1 Tim 6:11). There is no point trying to set up a habit that is not worth doing! Choosing something like regular Bible reading and prayer will be of massive benefit to you and your godliness and contentment.

The second step is to remember that it is better to do a little of something often than a large amount occasionally. Don’t be too ambitious to start with! It is better to read a chapter a day and think about it than to try to read a whole book of the Bible a week and not be able to keep it up. There is great power in doing a little of something often. In fact, social scientists often recommend that you try to start a new habit every day at the same time every day. Over time, this will build into a habit (over about two months). At that point, you won’t need to actively think about doing it; it will just be something you do.

Here are some ideas to consider as you start your new habit:

  • There is great value in accountability. Tell someone about your new habit and encourage one another. Ask each other how you are going. It gives an extra reason to keep it up, knowing you have to answer to someone else.
  • Consider waking up a little earlier. Starting your day having accomplished something important like Bible reading or exercise (or both) will be a great start to whatever else comes along.
  • To get a habit going, it is best to attach it to something you always do anyway. So, you might wake up then read the Bible, or read the Bible with breakfast. You have to wake up and have breakfast anyway. That will trigger your mind to do the new habit as well.

Don’t rely on getting around to this new discipline when you feel like it or when you have time. If it is important, carve out time. If something like reading your Bible is of great benefit to you and needed to grow in your faith, don’t allow it to be pushed out when life gets busy.

If you’ve never read the Bible regularly before, start with this habit. It will, over time, build your knowledge and faith, your understanding of God, and your contentment and godliness. It is worth the effort and time investment.