So I say, walk by the Spirit, and you will not gratify the desires of the flesh. Galatians 5:16
We all have bad habits in our lives. Oversleeping, smoking, nail biting, selfishness, worrying, overeating, complaining, procrastinating, negative self-talk.
Like with most anything in life, when we focus on something or magnify something it gets bigger. When we magnify the bad habits in our lives, they often become larger and harder than ever to break.
So how can we get rid of these bad habits that impact the quality of our life and even the lives of those around us?
Well, what if we took the focus off of the bad habits? Seems counterintuitive, I’ll admit. But what if instead of focusing so much attention on how to break them, we just replaced them with good habits and focused on those?
Even better — what if those bad habits were replaced with spiritual habits? It’s worth a try; don’t you think?
Start today by focusing on at least one of these 7 spiritual habits that can improve your life:
1. Pray before Your Feet Hit the Floor
I’ve had a lifelong battle with depression and anxiety. For me, it strikes hardest first thing in the morning. Is it the same for you? Maybe you’ve unintentionally gotten in the habit of allowing anxious thoughts to set up shop in your mind the very moment your eyes open.
Instead of allowing those negative thoughts to fill your mind and heart with fear and sap you of energy, you can abruptly stop the thoughts and enter into a state of prayer and praise.
Replace that unhealthy practice with the healthy habit of offering up praises to Him for a safe night’s rest, asking Him to calm your mind and heart, and thanking Him in advance for providing you the stamina, protection, and grace to get through all the day’s demands.
The habit of whispering up prayer and praise to Him before even getting out of bed will fill you with a sense of calmness and expectancy for the day ahead.
2. Have Coffee with Christ
Commit to the habit of getting up just 5 minutes earlier to grab your java and your Bible. I know what you’re thinking — you don’t have time for Bible study before work. I get it, but it’s really about quality, not quantity.
Set aside a few minutes each day to devote to earnestly reading His Word while drinking your favorite morning beverage. Simply meditate on His Word and listen for His prompting. You’ll be amazed at what God can reveal to you in just a few quality minutes.
The habit of a morning devotion time helps set a positive tone for your entire day, gives the opportunity to learn more about Christ, and shows God your obedience in putting Him before everything else in your life.
A few years ago I noticed after spending time watching the morning news I felt not only depressed but anxious and even angry. My emotions were all over the place, and I was rattled every day, all day. When I broke up with this morning habit, my anxiety and stress levels greatly decreased.
If you’ve noticed watching particular programs (or checking your Facebook feed!) trigger your anxiety and leave you feeling overwhelmed and out of sorts, switch those out for music that praises God.
The habit of listening to music that glorifies God uplifts us and compels us to be more Kingdom-focused, while giving us a much needed break from the worries and cares of this world.
It’s time to think about what you’re thinking about. Have you gotten in the habit of thinking bad thoughts about yourself, demeaning and loathsome thoughts, even?
You can break this horrible habit by realizing that you have authority over your own thoughts and have the power to reject any thought that doesn’t line up with what God says about you.
When you’re tempted to self-loath, develop the habit of immediately replacing those self-deprecating thoughts with Scripture that reflects His love for you.
The habit of rejecting negative thoughts about yourself and replacing those thoughts with what His Word says about you reiterates your real worth and true potential, while resisting the enemy and giving God glory.
Is your first instinct to burn a bridge? Are you far more likely to hold a grudge than offer grace? Then maybe unforgiveness has become a habit.
Practicing the sin of unforgiveness not only hurts our relationship with others and with God, it’s detrimental to us spiritually. Because when we choose to hide unforgiveness in our heart, we’re also making the choice to invite anger, resentment, bitterness, and hate to reside within.
The best way to protect our heart from the havoc unforgiveness assuredly will wreak is to make the choice right away to forgive — before we give the offense too much thought (and emotion).
Remember that whatever we focus on and magnify becomes bigger and stronger. So the sooner we choose to forgive, the better (and easier)!
The habit of choosing to forgive right away, rather than allowing yourself to dwell on the offense, is a practice in obedience to God and also guards our hearts from the threat of bitterness and hate.
We all go through periods in life when it seems the whole world is against us, nothing is working out the way we thought it would, and it’s hard for us to believe God is really working in the background. Right?
When this happens, it’s quite easy to develop the habit of thinking defeated thoughts and feeling sorry for ourselves. Before we know it, we’ve become totally consumed only with what’s going on in our little world. Maybe we even become closed off.
Before you find yourself trapped in the habit of self-centered defeat and despair, take your mind off of your own troubles by being a blessing to someone else.
Focus on a new pattern of behavior: When you see a need, fill it. Why? Because you’re never more like Jesus than when you’re ministering to someone else, especially when you’re in so much pain yourself. And when you put others first and play a role in touching someone’s life, no matter how small, you’re exhibiting Kingdom-mindedness and breaking the habit of being consumed with yourself.
Ministering to others will bring you joy and give Him glory.
The habit of looking for ways to make a difference in someone’s life brings us joy, honors God, and gets our mind off of our own troubles.
Would others call you a grumbler? Our society has made complaining nearly a requirement of sorts. It’s as if the world would have us believe being content and satisfied with what we have is somehow selling out or living a life that’s mediocre at best.
If you’ve hopped on the bandwagon and now find yourself in the habit of grumbling and complaining, trade it out for the habit of praise. When your tempted to voice your criticism, replace it with talking to God about how thankful you are.
When your fleshly desire is to fly into a tirade over the 37 loads of laundry, instead thank God you’ve been blessed with a beautiful family to dirty said laundry…that you can afford clothes to wear…that you don’t have to spend all day washing them in a creek….
The more we talk to God, the less we complain. It’s as simple as that. There’s just no way you can grumble while giving thanks for His grace and no way you can protest while praising Him for His provision.
The habit of praising God throughout the day takes our focus off of what we don’t like and puts our focus on giving Him the glory He deserves, while developing in us a grateful and content spirit.
[written by Renee Davis]