Daily bible reading, regular prayers, and family worship time are the habits that make you feel slightly queasy when suddenly vacuuming behind the couch seems urgent? The Bible says, "So faith comes from hearing, and hearing through the word of Christ" (Romans 10:17). God gives the fire, but we need to fuel our faith with God's word, our children need this fuel too to have the means to find faith for themselves. But how do we not fall in a heap of guilt and failure on day two of a plan to get started? Here are three practical tips on habit-building that are inspired by "Creating a Plan for Family Worship (David Murray)" from the Crossways Podcast.
Tip One: Baby Steps
Think of the smallest step you can take to get started. Set the bar low. You wouldn't say to yourself, "Let's do 20 push-ups." Just the thought of it would stop you from starting. But say to yourself, "Just do one push-up." Then you're more likely to actually get down there and do one. In doing so, you might even think, "Oh, I may as well do two now that I've started." So, take baby steps. Say to yourself, "I'll just close my eyes and say one prayer" or "I'll just sit down and open my Bible in Mark and read just one verse."
Tip Two: Daily Clean Slate
The podcast presenter told the story of how once his scratch soccer team were down 4-1 and stopped trying anymore. Just then the bell for dinner went, and someone said, "Last two minutes! Next team who scores a goal wins!" The motivation was immediately restored. What a great analogy for God's grace! Satan wants to you to dwell on your guilt to keep you from getting back in the game. The Gospel is not about guilt. Confess your failure, take hold of forgiveness and play on like you have a clean slate, regardless of whether it's been one week or three months since you last prayed, read or did family worship.
Tip Three: Piggyback Existing Habits
The best way to build a habit is to attach it to an existing habit. Do family worship straight after dinner. Put your Bible on your pillow. Pray while you wait for the toast to pop. Put all your social media apps deep in a folder with your Bible or prayer app in front of it. (And don't forget tip 1, aim to read one or two verses before you head to Facebook!)
God said in Isaiah 55:11, "so is my word that goes out from my mouth: It will not return to me empty, but will accomplish what I desire and achieve the purpose for which I sent it." While Hebrews 4:2 says, "the word of God is alive and powerful." And Paul reminds us in Philippians 4:6-7 that through prayer, the peace of God, which surpasses understanding will guard our hearts and minds in Christ Jesus. There are days when you will see one per cent or zero per cent return from your Christian habits. But as Christians, we don't rely on seeing the return; we believe that God's word is powerfully and sometimes invisibly at work every baby step we take.