In October we encouraged people at North Pointe to become a “Minute Manager (MM).” The commitment was to form a habit of praying one minute everyday. We manage minutes…God manages miracles. Managing minutes is a way you can experience the power of “praying without ceasing.” (1 Thessalonians 5:17)
How are you doing with your habit of prayer? Have you had lift-off? How are you doing with any new habit you’ve started? “Breaking and making new habits is like the launch of a spacecraft like Apollo 11. To get to the moon those astronauts literally had to break out of the tremendous gravity pull of the earth. More energy was spent in the first few minutes of lift-off and the first few miles of travel, than was used over the next several days to travel half a million miles.” The Seven Habits of Highly Effective People, Stephen Covey
Here are 4 energizers to boost your habit’s lift off. Understand their power and you can successfully form any habit.
1. Develop a routine. Wanting to form a good habit isn’t good enough. K.C. responded to the MM challenge by writing, “I imagine with awe at what my relationship with God would be like if I committed my minutes to prayer. I find it difficult to sustain prayer.” Connecting with God is not just good, its awesome, but its still hard to practice. Even a minute a day. You need a routine.
Routines are a bit of a tough sell for most people. We equate “routine” with “boring.” However, so much of the success in our lives comes from routine. There are at least 100 things you do everyday that are so routine you don’t even think about them.
2. Pick a time, a place and a posture. Habits emerge because your brain is constantly looking for ways to save effort. In our example of praying for a minute everyday you could: pray at 12:00PM (time), in your office (place), standing by your desk (posture) – that creates a routine that will become 2nd nature to you. Or, at sunset each day, watching the sun set and standing. Or, as I do, when I wake up, in my bed, with my eyes open.
If routines sound too “phoney” for you, think of the instructions the Lord gave the Jews about routines (Leviticus 23;3). Every 7th day (time) they were to gather for worship (place) and stand to sing (posture). EVERY 7th day – no exceptions. Daniel (Daniel 6:10) prayed 3 times everyday, by his window, on his knees. Routines don’t need to become ruts.
3. Start a process. There is a 3 element loop that all habits are based on (p. 19, the Power of habits).
Cue – a trigger that tells your brain to go into automatic mode.
Routine – in our case – a minute of prayer
Reward – which helps your brain figure out if this loop is worth remembering.
Over time this loop – cue, routine, reward, cue, routine, reward – becomes automatic. The cue and reward become intertwined. For my practice of prayer, I made it simple – my cue is waking up; my routine is to pray; my reward is knowing I have started my day the best possible way.
4. Just do it. Trust the process. As long as the cue and reward are strong enough and its a routine you desire, you will break free into the orbit of any new habit. An old habit will linger under the new one. If you fall back, you can start again.
Question: Have you started praying a minute every day? What is our routine for prayer?