[E]verything is ruined by the vain habits we fall into and the way everyone else follows them! (Teresa of Avila: Second Mansions)
Do you not know that in a race all runners compete, but only one receives the prize? Run in such a way that you may win it. Athletes exercise self-control in all things: they do it to receive a perishable wreath, but we an imperishable one. So I do not run aimlessly, nor do I box as though beating the air; but I punish my body and enslave it, so that after proclaiming to others I myself should not be disqualified. (The Apostle Paul: I Corinthians 9.27)
We live by habit. These habits strongly influence our relationships, our successes, our failures, our finances, our appearance, and our use of time. Habits also factor into our blessings, good fortune, and luck: Good habits expand our blessings; bad habits erode our good fortune; and, as Branch Rickey correctly said, “Luck is the residue of design.” We may or may not like the outcomes, but we’ve shaped our life by our habits. We can also change our habits and create different outcomes. The ancients had a phrase: abeunt studia in mores (practices passionately pursued vanish into habits). Any new behavior is a lot of work at first, but if we pursue it passionately, it will “vanish” into a habit and change our life.
We also shape our spiritual life by our habits. This is why we hear phrases like “spiritual formation” or “spiritual disciplines”. The Apostle Paul emphasizes “training” (i.e. developing habits) a number of times in his writings. I Timothy 4 says, “Train yourself in godliness, for physical training is of some value, godliness is valuable in every way”. This does not negate our responsibility to care for our bodies — spirituality, after all, is holistic — but spiritual training covers critical ground that physical training cannot surround.
Essential to spiritual training is prayer and meditation. Through prayer we deepen our relationship with Christ, gain self-knowledge, develop discernment, and hear God. I encourage you, even if it’s only for a few minutes each day, to schedule a specific time for prayer and meditation. It’s a good habit and will change your life.
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