practice to habit: my big, scary 30-day experiment in faith

Habits . . . I have so many.

Some are good, like recycling, keeping a file folder for each of my clients and charging my cell phone before the battery dies. Some don’t really matter, like never making the bed. I kind of wish I did, but not enough to start doing it. And I married a fellow non-bed-maker, so the state of the bed isn’t cause for argument. Some are bad, like letting the dirty dishes pile up until we’ve run out of clean spoons. (And some are just totally gross, like picking at hangnails. I know, I know. Mr. S. hates it too.)

These habits are surface-level. But with each, I’ve done something enough — or not done something enough — to make it a regular behavior, a regular pattern, a regular activity.

Books have been written about what it takes to make something a habit. Some activities become habit easier than others. I’m more inclined to make file folders because I love me some organization. I’m less inclined to wash dishes because the chore just seems to go slowly.

These days, the need for a new kind of habit has been making its home in my heart. And holy whoa, does it scare me.

Although I’ve called myself a Christian for much of my life, I have never made spiritual disciplines a habitual, regular part of each day. I cannot count how many . . .
. . Bible reading plans I’ve launched and not finished.
. . prayer journals I’ve started and left incomplete.
. . devotionals I’ve purchased and only read the first few chapters.

With God’s grace alone do I have a basic knowledge of His word, a hodge-podge of these bits of study. Always good intentions. Never good follow-through.

So back to this new, scary habit. I am at a place in my life, a place in my faith, where I need to make time every single day to read the Bible and pray through it. It’s been a heart-grabbing conviction, really. I am weary and this weary soul needs its foundation strengthened.

Generations of Christians have made spiritual disciplines a reality through rising early. And so I wonder, what might my faith and my life look like if I make daily Bible reading a habit? Not by my own might or strength, but by Christ’s.

To me, this is so scary. I might fail. (And let’s be honest, friends, failure feels pretty embarrassing when you blog about it.) Also, there is not a bone in my body that wakes up early. The coffee maker is about to get quite a workout. But, as with so many things in life that are scary, it’s so unbelievably worth trying.

I hope to tackle this experiment for 30 days and blog my way through it. Consider it an exercise in how to make a practice into a habit. I want to write about it honestly, sharing what challenges I am facing and what God is teaching me and how I am growing. I have a plan and I’ll be sharing the research and rationale behind it in coming days.

Friends, I’m embarking on this challenge, this mission, this experiment. And it’s starting tomorrow, February 1, 2012. I’m going to spend time in my Bible every morning for 30 days. 30 minutes a day for 30 days. I have this feeling it’s going to change my faith.

“There are two ways to read the Bible. The one way to read the Bible is that it’s basically about you: what you have to do in order to be right with God, in which case you’ll never have a sure and certain hope, because you’ll always know you’re not quite living up. You’ll never be sure about that future. Or you can read it as all about Jesus. Every single thing is not about what you must do in order to make yourself right with God, but what he has done to make you absolutely right with God. And Jesus Christ is saying, ‘Unless you can read the Bible right, unless you can understand salvation by grace, you’ll never have a sure and certain hope. But once you understand it’s all about me, Jesus Christ, then you can know that you have peace. You can know that you have this future guaranteed, and you can face anything.’” – Tim Keller

Friends, will you join me on this journey? I’d love to hear how you’ve made a practice a habit. If there’s something you do every day, how do you do it? What made it work? What challenges have you encountered? I need all the love and advice I can get.

I’ll be updating here often, and on a few other places around the Internet too. Stay tuned here, and on Twitter too: @sarahkoci.

(And hey, if you don’t want to hear about how many cups of coffee I have to down to make myself wake up early, don’t go far or feel isolated. Inspiration-Driven Life is going to keep tackling other stuff too. Love you all, no matter who you are, and grateful to have you with me.)

Linking up with Kristina at hitherto & henceforth for #commit2write.

29 thoughts on “practice to habit: my big, scary 30-day experiment in faith

  1. Two tips:
    1. Accountability {which you have already established in your commitment to blog/tweet about it}
    2. Start fresh each day – don’t focus on what you did/didn’t do yesterday… each day is a fresh chance to be successful!

    • Ashley, thank you so much for your insight! I have such a tendency to beat myself up over what I’ve done wrong in the past, so your second point will especially be helpful to me. I think I might even write that on a post-it in my Bible: Every day is a fresh chance to be successful. Love that! Thank you so much!

  2. I really struggle with this too! I made a New Year’s resolution to spend 15 minutes a day in scripture or a devotional, but have not been consistent. After reading this I realize that is because I don’t set a specific time of day to do it and make it a habit, so there are days I forget or it just never seems to fit in. Setting aside the same chunk of time each day is really smart. I think I may join you in this 30-day challenge!

  3. It’s so refreshing to know that I am not the only one. I finally am getting back into the habit (as of last week so it hardly qualifies as a habit yet). Can’t wait to cheer you on, and use your blog posts as encouragement. 😉

  4. Good for you! This is soooo great you are doing this. I teach the Old Testament right now…so I have to get up early and read and learn…but it’s hard. I rely totally on the Spirit to lead and guide me. Best wishes to you!!

    • Leslie, thanks for your encouragement. Can’t do it without the Spirit, can we? Thanks for visiting the blog today!

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  6. This is exciting!

    I have gotten in the habit of getting up early. What I need to learn to do now is be more organized in my time.

    One thing that has helped me is to let go of pressure. When I consentrate on spending time with God because I love Him and because we’re in a relationship, the pressure falls away. I read somewhere one time that time with God is like any other relationship. You don’t always have time where you sit uninturrepted with your spouse (you have to make time for that though), but you still have a relationship where you need to talk to each other and interact. It helps me to focus on our relationship and my love for Him.

    I can’t wait to read more.

    • Mmm, Jennifer, love that. Easy to forget that our relationship with God is a real, living, breathing relationship. Thanks for your encouragement!

  7. sarah,

    i have one of the first pages in my journal, which i started fresh about a year ago, a note to the side, ‘mary kathryn, can you commit to waking up each morning and spending time with me?’ i didn’t offer a response.

    i will very likely fail at this. as in, tomorrow. i will fail. to be sure.

    but i want to join you. and so i’m going to.

    unless i fail.

    which i probably will.

    also? is that your script in that picture? because you have beautiful handwriting!


    • Mary Kathryn, friend, thank you! Humbled, really. I’ll fail too — we all fail at everything when we try to do it on our own, don’t we? Praying that God will give me strength and lead me to learn what He wants to show me, simply. I’d love it if you would join me! And yes, it is my handwriting . . . many years of practice, haha!

      xo back.

  8. I desperately need this. And accountability. I’m having more trouble than usual getting out of bed, and at night I’m trying to read at least a Psalm. I just lost my job so I have more time to put into this. I’m in! tammyperl(at)

  9. I will join you in this!

    It’s a scary thought to wonder what my faith would look like if the bible was taken away from me and the only access to God’s word was what I had stored in my heart. (How do you like that for a run on sentence!?!?!?!)

    • Kyle, thanks for visiting! Glad to have you along in this experiment. Challenging words you shared . . . good motivation to store as much in our hearts as we can, yes?

  10. This is awesome…so excited for you! I started a new Bible reading plan at the beginning of the year – the M’Cheyne one year plan – it goes through the New Testament and Psalms twice and the rest of the Old Testament once. I built accountability into my blog by posting a weekly devotion based on the previous week’s readings. Still struggling with the timing of those posts, and I still haven’t been faithful to read every day like i should, but the {mostly} consistent intake of the Word has been amazing!! Yes, it’s a scary challenging commitment, but SO worth it!!

    PS: Just found your blog and LOVE it! 🙂

    • Emily, thank you so much for sharing! I have also heard of the M’Cheyne plan. How do you like it? It’s hard to read every day for sure! But so glad to have your encouragement.

      And my own PS — Your blog is fantastic as well! Thanks for the love. It really means the world.

      • I am loving the M’Cheyne plan! Sounds much like what you’re doing. I read 4 chapters a day from various parts of Scripture…currently in Genesis, Mark, Esther, and Romans. Such a rich way to read the text!

        • I’ve heard so many good things about the M’Cheyne plan! Glad to hear you’re enjoying it.

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