Most people want to change their lives but few people actually do. The difference comes down to the power of habits. Habits govern our lives and allow us to engage in a multitude of daily tasks without overloading our cerebral circuitry. Over the past few decades, advancing science in brain research has given us untold insight into how God has hardwired us when it comes to habits, especially how to start, stop and change habits.
For instance, every habit has a cue, a routine, and a reward. If your habit is to go to the gym after work, then your cue is when that clock hits 5:00 pm. Your body begins to anticipate a good work out. After the routine of an hour at the gym, your body feels energized and refreshed, flowing with positive chemicals released throughout the body. If you want to start, stop, or change a habit, you need to deal with cues and rewards. If you want to refresh your soul and take your faith to new heights, here are five spiritual habits that will change your life.
Consume the Word
When Jesus was tempted in the desert by Satan He spoke to the importance of Scripture when He said, “Man shall not live on bread alone, but on every word that comes from the mouth of God” (Matthew 4:4). This spiritual habit is more than simply reading a quick Bible verse or devotional to start your day. It’s an attitude towards the word that approaches it like a starving man approaches a loaf of bread. Read the word, think about it throughout the day, listen to it, meditate on it, memorize it, and consume it.
Here are three rewards to look forward to when you consume the word: guidance, spiritual food and a renewed mind. When you consume the word, you gain a new perspective on life and receive guidance. At the same time you feed your soul just like you feed your body with physical food. Over time consuming the word renews your mind, changing the way you think and therefore changing the way you live. A great cue for consuming the word is “rise and fall” from Deuteronomy 6:7. When you get up in the morning and when you lay down, when you get up from your desk at work and when you sit down after lunch, take a moment and consume the word.
Prayer is commanded throughout Scripture (1 Thessalonians 5:17 is one example), so while the command isn’t new our approach to prayer might need to be. Prayer isn’t about coming to God with a Christmas wish list like you’d approach the Santa Clause waiting at the mall. Praying continually is cultivating an ongoing, vibrant, life-giving conversation with your heavenly Father.
When you pray continually, you’ll discover the joys of selflessness when you take the focus off of yourself and intercede for other people. As Philippians 4:6-7 promises, you’ll experience the peace that transcends all understanding that will guard your heart when you pray. And over time you’ll be able to point to specific moments in time when God showed up and answered your prayers in powerful ways. A cue for pray continually is “take a sip.” Most of us drink something throughout the day, perhaps a cup of coffee to start the day or bottled water after lunch. Every time you take a sip, use that as a cue to remind you to speak to your heavenly Father and pray continually.
Walk in the Spirit
This one might seem a little odd at first if you weren’t raised with an awareness or appreciation of the Holy Spirit, but if you read the book of Acts you’ll quickly see that the Holy Spirit is the main character of Acts. The early church doesn’t exist without the Holy Spirit. We need Him today just as much as the early church did. Walking in the Spirit is about making yourself aware of His presence, surrendering to His will and obeying what He tells you to do.
When you walk in the Spirit, you’ll sense the presence of God in and around you. You’ll begin to see divine movements of God as God shows up tangibly in your world. And, as the Bible promises in Galatians 5:22-23, over time walking in the Spirit will produce the fruit of the Spirit, and your life will be characterized by love, joy, peace and all the others. A great cue for walking in the Spirit is the physical act of “walking” itself. When you’re walking from your house to the car or from one end of the office to the other, take a moment to recognize the Spirit’s presence in your life, submit to him, and obey what he leads you to do.
Love Others Sacrificially
This habit is the easiest to understand and the hardest to live out. We all know that loving others is central to the Christian ethic, yet many of us try and redefine what it actually mean to love others. We think if we feel compassion or have good intentions, that’s enough. If you read Luke 10 and the parable of the Good Samaritan, Jesus clearly defines loving others in terms of actions, not just intentions.
When you make a habit of loving others sacrificially, you’ll discover a sense of purpose as you are steeped in the realization that you are a part of something that matters. Over time, you’ll see lives transformed as hearts are softened through the most powerful weapon in the world: love. And long after you’re gone, your act of sacrificial love will continue to multiply to future generations. A great cue for loving others sacrificially is every time you “touch your phone.” Whether you touch your phone as a prelude to interacting with the world or escaping from it, touching your phone happens as many times throughout the day as we should be loving other sacrificially: continuously.
All four previous habits build up to this one, and you’ll discover how much easier and how much more effective sharing Jesus when you’re consuming the word and praying continually. You’ll also discover a new level of effectiveness in your witness when you walk in the Spirit and allow Him to lead you towards those ready to hear the gospel and when you preface your message with acts of sacrificial love.
Sharing Jesus fills you with joy as you fulfill the main mission left you on this earth to do. You’ll also see your faith and confidence explode as you go public with your faith. Finally, you’ll see eternal destinies forever changed because of your willingness to share your faith. The cue for this habit is “every conversation.” Every time you enter into a conversation with someone, ask the Spirit when and how you can share Jesus.
Get into the Habit
None of these five habits are easy, but they are so worth it. When you stack an active prayer life on top of a regular consumption of the word, you cultivate an ongoing conversation with God into which the Spirit will join, leading you to walking in the Spirit. Walking in the Spirit will always lead you to someone you can love sacrificially and share Jesus with. Make no mistake; these five spiritual habits have the power to change your life!
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