Decoding the patterns of habits
Our lives consist of so many different habits, both good and bad. Sometimes the scale weighs more on the bad side! Whatever you feed grows! Whatever you practice gain skill and can become your master!
With the start of a new year, many people(including)myself start reviewing their habits, trying to get rid of old ones is trying out some new ones. In our household, we challenged ourselves with the habit of learning new things and developing existing ones.
I believe I probably engaged in the best habits ever: Getting up earlier and prayer journaling. One habit accommodates the other, so I’ve concluded that some habits are working together in pairs or groups.
When I started with prayer journaling in 2020, I realized that I had to get rid of some habits and replace them with new ones. Why? These old systems in my mind limited my ability to progress and caused me to become stagnant. It was frustrating! But I was desperate for a change and set myself up for success!
It wasn’t an easy task! Getting rid of bad habits takes intentionality and willpower, but cannot be done out of our strength. It can only be accomplished through the assistance of God. With God nothing is impossible.
Let’s have a look at some definitions:
a usual way of behaving : something that a person does often in a regular and repeated way(Meriam Webster)
Set patterns of behavior. These patterns can be helpful when they lead to spiritual discipline and a regular pattern of prayer and worship; others can be detrimental to faith. (DICTIONARY OF BIBLE THEMES – 5873 HABITS)
When looking closely at most definitions, all of it emphasizes repetition and that habits are being formed this way. What caught my attention was the fact that it becomes set patterns of behavior.
If then these habits become set patterns, I concluded:
- It is set
- Bad habits can cause bad mental health
- Difficult to break, in the case of bad habits
- Depending on which kind of habits our minds can be conformed or transformed.
- It can become codes in our brain
- Our mind becomes entrapped or freed
- It will take much more effort to abstain
- Our eyes, ears, and mouth can be triggered by the cue.
As our minds change, so, too, will our habits.
“Do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewal of your mind, that by testing you may discern what is the will of God, what is good and acceptable and perfect.”
“We destroy arguments and every lofty opinion raised against the knowledge of God, and take every thought captive to obey Christ…”
2 Corinthians 10:5
“Rejoice always, pray without ceasing, give thanks in all circumstances; for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus for you. Do not quench the Spirit. Do not despise prophecies, but test everything; hold fast what is good. Abstain from every form of evil.”
1 Thessalonians 5:16-22
“Do not lie to one another, seeing that you have put off the old self with its practices and have put on the new self, which is being renewed in knowledge after the image of its creator.”
I’ve also decided to adopt a few creative new habits for prayer journaling:
1. Practice penmanship
Our handwriting is so revealing! When I looked through my journals I could tell my emotional-and spiritual state as well as my progress, by only looking at my handwriting.
Writing is a skill and needs to be practiced. At first, I wanted to try out all the fancy ( difficult ) fonts, but I realize that a beginner should begin with the basics! First of all, I do not engage in journaling to create a fancy book or binder, but rather to become effective in prayer. However, there are times the Holy Spirit invites me to be creative.
2. Try a new style of doodling
3. Collection of letter word entries
4. Make Prayer Doodles
Prayer is not always words, but can also be expressed through scriptural doodles and pictures.
The codes of bad habits can only be cracked successfully by acknowledging that we cannot do it in our strength, but rather through the help and grace of God. To begin with, I identified the habit that had the biggest impact on my life, started to pray about it, and then applied action! Every bit of progress is worth celebrating!