Almost every evening for the last 20 years, I create my “to-do list” for the next day. Even though I’ve been retired from my career as an underwriter for the last three years, I still want to plan my day and remember my daily priorities.
Although I’ve made a list for many years, prayer was not always included, and definitely not at the top of the list as I was not a morning person. Over time, as I attended Bible study and Sunday school, I realized how grounding it was to begin my day with prayer, but it still took time to be consistent.
When I look back, certain questions came to mind as I tried to maneuver my busy life of husband, children, and career. Matthew 6:33 says, “But seek ye first the kingdom of God and His righteousness and all these things will be added unto you.” I was definitely not doing that!
The more I studied the Bible, the more I questioned why my lifestyle was still not moving in the direction I desired, toward God. As I began to seriously look at my daily routine, I thought about the following:
- Is God a priority in my daily schedule?
- Do I find that some days nothing seems to go right?
- Are there principles that guide my daily life?
Changing your own lifestyle may seem like a daunting task. I felt overwhelmed in the beginning, but I made the decision to begin one step at a time. As I prayed for direction, my godly conscience replaced my worldly conscience revealing to me what I needed to do. I began to understand that following what God wants you to do is not always easy, but there is such a feeling of peace and joy afterward.
Here are several suggestions that helped me and I believe will help you as well:
Put God first
When I began reprioritizing my days, I noticed that the days I began with prayer were more peaceful and organized. They were not perfect days, but they gave me a different mindset. I realized that daily time with God (reading the Bible and praying), before I do anything else must become a priority. Developing a mindful morning routine helped me to start every day on the right foot. Not sure where to start? This article from NTC Christian Schools gives morning patterns for starting your day with God.
Pray for direction
Spend time with pen and paper before God. I like to set aside a few minutes in the morning or the evening when my home is quiet — there are no distractions so I am able to focus. Using prayers from a trusted site or book of devotions helped me to establish my daily prayer time. I’m a fan of the devotions from My Catholic Life and Crosswalk.
Monitor your attitude
I discovered that the way I react to others is the way they react to me. I know from personal experience that if I approach someone in anger, they usually respond back with anger. In the same way, when I remain calm when people approach, it tends to diffuse the situation. I have also come to understand that a person who angers you controls you, so keeping your cool with negative people is important.
There is great information on cultivating a Christian attitude in this article. One of the most important things I practice as I work on my Christian character is thinking before I speak. Sometimes that means not even responding. It’s a difficult practice, but a great way of learning humility and patience.
Don’t give up
Whatever habits you have now didn’t develop overnight, so change may not happen overnight. Be persistent, consistent, patient, and steadfast. Once I began to see the difference in my daily life, I was encouraged to continue turning towards God at various moments throughout the day. Even if I missed a day of following my morning pattern, I would just begin again the next day. It takes 21 days to form a habit, so don’t let up.
Seek out virtuous friends
When we set challenging goals (completing a difficult project, exercising more, etc.) we sometimes ask someone to help us stay on target. There is an advantage to having godly friends because they can lend a spiritual perspective to the goals you set.
Friends in faith, or accountability partners, are believers who will be honest with you when they see that you are slipping in your commitment. The best friends are not critical, but lovingly bring opportunities for growth to your attention. My accountability partner/friend has helped me tremendously over the years.
Spending time intentionally reviewing your lifestyle can reveal areas for growth. Living a faith-focused lifestyle can give you purpose, peace, joy, and contentment. For me, it provides a different atmosphere to my day in a chaotic world. I hope it can do the same for you!