Every month we talk about incorporating rhythms into our lives in order to engage with God throughout the day. But new habits don’t develop overnight. We often must first acknowledge and embrace the challenges that keep us from hearing how God is speaking into our lives. Here are five guidelines if you’re struggling to develop rhythms that lead to a meaningful conversation with Him. To assist with this, we also create monthly rhythms for our community to make our engagement with God a consistent part of our day. These rhythms can be found here on our website or on our app.
1). Start small
Rome wasn’t built in a day and neither are daily habits. Be patient with yourself and aware of what is and isn’t a realistic addition to your routine. If you already find it difficult to pray first thing in the morning ― whether it’s because you have kids or because you’re usually scrambling to get out the door ― trying to make prayer work at that time will likely just lead to disappointment.
Instead, build new habits around old habits. Evaluate the places where God Time can complement your already established routine. Maybe it’s during the hour you have carved out for lunch, or during your kids’ naptime. Or maybe prayer fits into your morning run and also during your commute home. If you’re struggling to make something stick, try starting with something simple, like engaging with God for a few minutes every time you brush your teeth. Then expand the conversation to other parts of your day.
2). Work on changing the conversation
In Thessalonians, Paul tells us to be joyful and pray continually. Paul is calling on us to change the conversation. Instead of talking to yourself all day, talk to Him ― just as you would talk to a friend. If you find the conversation drifting back to you (and you likely will), try exercising that muscle through journaling. Instead of journaling for yourself, write as if you were talking to God.
3). Tame your wandering mind
Create space to talk to Him with limited distractions. Pinpoint where your mind is going instead and try eliminating it. If you find yourself staring at dirty laundry and dishes in the sink, head to a coffee shop or the pier. And if it’s your phone that’s distracting you, leave it at home.
If your mind is still going elsewhere, find something to rein it in. For those who find it particularly difficult to sit still and focus, try meditating on His word with scripture-based adult coloring books (yes, really). Coloring reduces activity in the amygdala ― where our worries and other stress-induced emotions originate ― and is a meditation unto itself. While your mind might still wander, it can’t go far. So try dreaming and creating alongside God while illustrating scripture. As an added bonus, you’ll probably memorize a new verse by the time you’re done.
4). Set reminders
If you struggle with forgetfulness (as we all do), try creating reminders for yourself, at least until a new rhythm becomes a full-fledged habit. To help in establishing these rhythms, we created a way to set-up daily reminders through the Hoboken Grace App. Here is a quick step by step to get started:
Once completed you will begin to receive three notifications each day. At 8am a reminder about the daily bible reading plan, as we walk through the new testament together in a year. Along with this notification you can also join us live on the app for Anthony and Chris in the Morning, also at 8am, as we walk through and engage in this reading together. Then at 12pm you will get a notification that will take you to our meditation passage for the month. This will be an opportunity for all of us to take a moment in our day and stop what we are doing to engage God in prayer over this passage. Finally, at 4:30pm, before our day comes to an end, a reminder will be sent regarding the memory verse for the month which will give you another chance to stop and reflect on God’s word.
5). Own your failure
You know when you forget to return someone’s call or email, then avoid that person out of guilt when you run into them? Don’t let that be your relationship with God.
Inevitably, your daily to-do’s will get in the way. So when you fail to engage with God, own up to that failure and release any guilt that comes with it. Because when you move closer to God, God will move closer to you.