“Now when Daniel knew that the writing was signed, he went into his house: and his windows being opened toward Jerusalem, he kneeled upon his knees three times a day, and prayed, and gave thanks before his God, as he did aforetime.”—Daniel 6:10
Recently I was preparing a message encouraging our people to implement godly habits in their lives. As I thought about habits I was reminded that doing something habitually can lose its power for good.
The dictionary defines a habit as “an acquired behavior pattern regularly followed until it has become almost involuntary.” A good habit can become bad when it loses its grip on your heart. For example, a husband can begin taking his wife to dinner each Friday night because of his love and desire to spend time with his sweetheart. It is possible to lose the emotion behind the action and what began as a time of loving interaction becomes nothing more than a habitual ritual of going out to dinner. Hence the blessing of a date night and the ensuing emotional bonding has been lost.
The same thing is true of attending church services. We can get to the point that we are attending services not because we are looking for spiritual growth and obedience to Christ, but simply because it is what we have always done.
This does not mean habits are wrong, just that habits need to not become an end in themselves. They must remain as instruments or vehicles to help us accomplish a greater purpose.
It is my conviction that even though habits can lose their power for good, they are absolutely necessary for successful Christian living! Every greatly used man or woman of God is also a man or woman whose life is one of disciplined habits. The problem is not with habits, the problem is with forgetting why the habits were formed to begin with.
Consider these men and women whose success in life was at least partially a result of forming and following Godly habits:
- Daniel had a habit of seeking God’s face three times a day in prayer (Daniel 6:10).
- Abraham had a habit of seeking God early in the morning before the business of the day’s activities (Genesis 19:27; Genesis 22:3).
- David had a habit of not offering to God that which did not cost him something personally (2 Samuel 24:24).
- David had a habit of seeking God in prayer at regular times throughout the day (Psalm 55:17).
- Paul had a habit of soulwinning in the synagogue of each city he visited (Acts 17:2).
- The early disciples had a habit of meeting together each Sunday for preaching, fellowship, and giving (John 20:19; Acts 20:7; 1 Corinthians 16:2).
- Jesus had a habit of rising early in the morning for mediation and prayer (Mark 1:35).
- The Apostle Paul encouraged Timothy to study and meditate upon the Word of God (1 Timothy 4:16).
- The godly woman of Proverbs 31 had many habits that brought God’s commendation. She was habitual in the care and provision of her family.
We could go on and on listing great men and women in the Bible that formed positive habits which helped them please God and serve others successfully. We could also look back through history and cite examples of great leaders in business, politics, the arts, and religion whose lives were characterized by consistent habits that helped to differentiate them from their peers. They rose to the top of their professions because they studied more, worked harder, practiced more, sacrificed more, and consistently, habitually paid the price to succeed.
Our God is a God of order. He governs His universe systematically, predictably. We cannot predict God, because He is a miracle working all powerful God, but we can rest in our dependable God: “With whom is no variableness, neither shadow of turning” (James 1:17).
My point is simply this. We will never accomplish all that God intends without developing Godly habits. Habits such as honesty, integrity, and faithfulness should be as automatic in our lives as the sun rising in the morning.
I suggest that you develop habits that will help you reach your full potential in loving God and others—habits such as daily time in the Word and in prayer, faithfulness to the House of God, consistent tithing and giving, witnessing at every opportunity, kindness and forgiveness towards those who hurt you, and loving quality time with your family.
Yes, habits can become meaningless rituals, but they don’t have to, and it is certain that you will not succeed without them!