I gained new insight on the importance of forming the right habits after an experience with my lovely wife, which I would like to share with
you. Some time ago, she told me that I had not said ‘I love you’ to her for some days. So when I got to my office the following day, I called my wife on phone and started the call by saying ‘I love you’ to her 14 times. Hmmn! What’s this all about, she asked. I told her my reason – I do not want to bother saying ‘I love you’ in the next two weeks, so I decided to say it in advance. You need to have heard the way she screamed in protest.
It’s the same way you would react if I told you to take your bath 30 times today, so you will not bother doing so in the next 30 days … or to eat 90 meals today, so you would not need to eat for one month. It doesn’t make sense right? But why do we behave this way when it comes to spiritual matters and the things that have the greatest effect on our lives? Why do we study the word, pray hard and live right only in some seasons? Why are we committed to ministry only in some seasons?
I was praying recently and it was impressed on my heart that every person who has been a believer for at least 6 months ought to have developed these 5 habits: 1. Praise and worship; 2. Prayer; 3. Meditating on scriptures; 4. Witnessing about Christ; and 5. Giving to God’s work and the needy.
I have always known we should all be doing these things as believers but I did not appreciate the effect of making them our habits like I currently do. Habits are behaviour patterns we regularly follow until we do them unconsciously. So I asked myself how many believers are already operating in the ‘habit mode’ or ‘auto-cruise mode’ for these 5 things. Do we not do a powerful night vigil on a Friday and go to slumber for weeks? Many have reduced witnessing for Christ to something to be done on “evangelism day” or “fishing day” organised by the church. If we were to have a common sense rule that you only eat food after you have meditated on scriptures, how lean and weak will many of us be today? I’m sure many believers would be dead from hunger by now.
The good thing is that you can reverse any negative trend and start forming powerful habits that will make you live a purposeful life. Romans 12:21 (Phillips) says “Don’t allow yourself to be overpowered with evil. Take the offensive—overpower evil by good!” Whatever habit we want to develop, we have to be ready to take the offensive and stay with it consistently until we do it unconsciously. The same way we brush our teeth in the morning without any motivation, whether we are tired or not.
Psychologists say it takes about six weeks for a habit to develop. Many have never been successful at several things because they’ve never made it past the six-week barrier without missing a day. We recently started discussing forming some powerful habits at our monthly Christ Lifeline Fellowship, and I am so excited by the testimonies many have been sharing. For instance, to form the habit of prayer, we started out by giving ourselves the task of praying in tongues at least 30 minutes every day at a fixed time, say 5.30am. We also assigned everyone to a buddy that will check on them daily to ensure they did it. Some have been praying in tongues at least 30 minutes daily for 2 months straight. They are now on ‘auto-cruise mode’ and have started seeing the manifestation of fruit of prayer in their lives. Some others have been able to operate at the required level – praying without ceasing. In a similar manner, you can turn your life around in a few weeks.
Beloved, I’m sure you don’t wish to emulate me who said “I love you” 14 times so as to skip saying it for 14 days, because I was on a ‘silly mode’ that day. I want to encourage you today to have a program to get these 5 things (praise and worship; prayer; meditating on scriptures; witnessing about Christ; as well as giving to God’s work and the needy) into ‘habit mode’. It may be difficult initially, but after some weeks, it will be more difficult not to do them. Don’t try to do them in advance or make up for them. Always make a conscious effort to daily exhibit actions that are suited with your new nature in Christ.
Tope S. Aladenusi