Three Reasons Your Devotional Habit Doesn’t Stick and How to Change it

 In Featured, Pastor Jason's Blog

by Jason Kramme

The popular fitness app Strava has deemed January 19th “Quitter’s Day.” Based on their user data, it is the point where their New Year’s resolution subscribers finally drop-off their plans for good.

Just last week, Christians all over the world began to the journey towards Easter called Lent. It is a 40-day section of time patterned after Jesus’ own 40 days in the wilderness as he prepared for the rigors of his calling to be a new kind of Messiah. Since by the time of the writing of this article you’re already late to the Lenten party if you haven’t started some kind of devotional habit, I want to help you use this time to prepare to launch your habit at Easter by uncovering some common devotional habit killers before they sink your next adventure in faith.

Buying a plant with no pot

Many people’s habits fail because they recognize that their new habit, like a plant, needs a place to live and grow. Your new devotional habit is going to need a home and that home requires some essential elements. The first is time. Decide when this habit is going to happen in your day. A powerful way to do this is to find something you already do every day that you can tack this habit onto without disrupting what follows. The second key ingredient to look for is context. Our context influences our emotional state and our emotional state influences our energy to do things—including devotions. Do you have a place to do this new devotional habit? Make sure to anchor your habit in the early days or else it will float away like other failed routines.

How to eat an elephant

I wish that I could remove every single “read the Bible in a year plan” from devotional websites. It is too much to think about all at once when you’re starting a new habit. I have always loved the productivity idea that the best way to eat an elephant is one bite at a time. What does that look like in your devotional routine? Instead of your stated goal being, “I want to read the entire bible by next year” make it, “I want to read one verse a day, every day.” The beauty of the apps I shared in an earlier blog post is that you can schedule just such a routine to give you the spoon-fulls of Bible you need to stay on-track. Additionally, breaking a habit down into small, achievable chunks gives your brain the small wins it needs to keep working when life gets difficult.

We’re in this together

Do you remember when Jesus launched his solo tour around the ancient world telling everyone he was the messiah? No? Then why do so many people think they can grow in their faith on their own? Jesus’ entire ministry was community-based. If Jesus is to be the pattern we use to shape our discipleship, then we should consider doing the same. Again, start small. You don’t need to lead a small group right away or have some kind of accountability partner. What if you started by adding a friend on your You Version Bible App who can read your verse-a-day plan with you? OR what if you utilize a popular habit-tracking app like Streaks to give you kudos each time you complete your habit? Or, you could snag a habit-tracking journal like the Clear Habit Tracking Journal to check a box each time you complete your habit (Books can be friends, can’t they?)

The moral of the story is that successful habits take a bit of up-front design work. The good news is that it doesn’t take much design to make a habit stick for the long run. Good luck with your devotional habit and be sure to let us know what you put together AND how it’s going in the comments.

 

Jason Kramme serves as Pastor of Spiritual Formation

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