Our lives change when our habits change. It’s that simple.
In our research at Dynamic Catholic, we have found that the single most important spiritual habit is prayer. If you want to be a better version of yourself, your growth will begin with prayer. On the one hand, that doesn’t surprise you, does it? I mean, Jesus regularly took time away, often early in the morning or late at night, and went to a quiet place to pray. But on the other hand, our research also found that most of us do not have a daily routine of prayer.
Oh sure, we pray. We pray a little here. And we pray a little there. But we quickly get distracted, or fall out of the habit, or just turn to prayer when we are in need of something in a hurry. “Oh Lord, please help me find a parking space. I’ve got a lot to do today.”
But it’s the #1 Habit. A daily routine of prayer.
The more time you spend in the classroom of silence, the more clearly you will hear the voice of God in your life.
Ten minutes a day can make all the difference in the world. Having a daily routine of prayer means having a time, a place and a structure. You will pray and you will tend to do it each day at the same time, in the same place, and in a regular way that works for you. Spending time in silence, listening for the voice and the nudging of God. Sitting in God’s presence, giving him your full attention even when you are saying nothing at all yourself. Since the average American spends more than eight hours a day in front of a screen (TV, computer, smartphone, etc.), stepping away from the noise into the silence can be revolutionary.
As you do that each day, your relationship with God will build, and your life will begin to change. Prayer works on your soul much like waves coming in day after day and slowly changing the coastline. Consistent. Powerful.
Habit experts have discovered how one habit lived well begins to change everything in your life. They usually call this the keystone habit. For example, the decision to run a 10K race will lead to the decision to run each day to get ready. That daily habit of running soon may lead to the decision to quit smoking to be able to breathe and run better. That habit may slowly cause you to eat differently and to drink differently. You are caring for your body so that it can run each day, to get ready for the race. That habit may also force you to rethink how you sleep. Again, you are slowly adjusting to the habit of running each day.
Day by day, bit by bit, your one keystone habit has opened the way for other habits and decisions that have revolutionized your physical life.
God invites you to make prayer your keystone habit. A daily routine of prayer is the ultimate game-changer. As you begin to pray consistently, you will notice other areas of your life opening up in healthy ways you never anticipated.
That time with God will spill over into multiple areas of your life. You might have more peace, experience more patience, find relationships deepening or live with more confidence. As your prayer life goes, so goes your life.
Our Dynamic Catholic team has designed a simple, straightforward way to have a conversation with God each day during your quiet time. We call it the Prayer Process.
It goes like this:
STEP 1. GRATITUDE. Begin by thanking God for whomever and
whatever you are most grateful for today.
STEP 2. AWARENESS. Think about yesterday. Talk to God about
the times you were and were not the best version of yourself.
STEP 3. SIGNIFICANT MOMENT. Ask God what he is trying to say
to you today. Talk to him about that.
STEP 4. PEACE. Ask God to forgive you for anything you have
done wrong and to fill your heart with peace.
STEP 5. FREEDOM. Talk to God about some way he is inviting
you to change and grow.
STEP 6. OTHERS. Pray for the other people in your life by
asking God to guide them and watch over them.
STEP 7. PRAY the Our Father.
If you can only do one thing in 2018, let it be this: a 10-minute daily habit of prayer. Our lives change when our habits change.
Allen R. Hunt is senior advisor for the Dynamic Catholic Institute.