Every Day Habits of Holiness

Everyday Habits of Holiness

The insistent tone of my cell phone’s timer carried through floorboards to our basement schoolroom–another call to prayer unanswered.

I sighed, turned the page, and continued with my sixth-grader in a lesson on fractions.

I had been reading about the historical practice of praying the hours, setting aside intentional moments throughout the day at specific times to stop everything and pray.

Believers long ago listened to the sounding of bells to remind them to pray.

My solution?

Setting a cell phone timer.

It seemed like the perfect solution for a more intentional prayer life..

Why, then, did my timer always seem to sound when I was in the middle of an un-interruptible task?

  • Dinner preparation on a ball game night.
  • A fervent untangling of numerators and denominators.
  • An intense disciplinary moment.

The reminder was impractical for that season, but it was an important step on my journey toward a more mindful use of my minutes in building my relationship with God.

I began to realize that regular prayer, immersion in the Words of Scripture, meditating on its truth, and the constant recognition that God is part of the entire day are not unattainable goals set aside for “advanced” Christians.

These practices can be woven into ordinary moments of our daily lives, helping us build a meaningful relationship with God.

Here are five things I’ve learned on my own journey of inviting holiness into my everyday habits; I hope these simple strategies will encourage your faith and help you to grow.

Holiness is Breathing our Prayers

Therefore the Lord waits to be gracious to you, and therefore he exalts himself to show mercy to you. For the Lord is a God of justice; blessed are all those who wait for him. – Isaiah 30:18

Isaiah 30:18 portrays God’s longing for communion with His children, although not from any lack on His part. Purely out of grace, He “waits on high” to have compassion on us, to lavish us with His unwavering attention.

Normal conversation involves a comfortable back and forth between two people, and talking with God is no different.

But we must be willing to start the conversation!

Hanging laundry on the clothesline, waiting in the parking lot for my kids, standing at the kitchen sink – all of these moments are an opportunity for prayer.

Just as the next breath that keeps me alive requires a release of the air in my lungs, prayer, like breathing, requires a release.

Focused attention on God through moments of prayer helps release us from our position at the center of the universe.

It reminds me who is in control, and how much I need to commune with my Savior.

Holiness is Taking Small Daily Doses of Truth

“Open my eyes, that I may behold wondrous things out of your law.” – Psalm 119:18

When the psalmist prayed for focused attention and a receptive heart, he was not preparing for a legalistic, mechanical quiet time.

He was coming to the Bible in recognition of his need and reaching out to the Great Physician for a prescription to fill that emptiness.

Scripture is our daily dose of Truth.

When I fail to consult with biblical wisdom, my judgment and emotions inevitably go off the rails.

I’ve learned that a small daily dose of God’s Word, read with focused attention, is better than a huge gulp, quickly forgotten.

I’ve learned that a small daily dose of God’s Word, read with focused attention, is better than a huge gulp, quickly forgotten.CLICK TO TWEET

When my brain is especially tired, I read aloud, allowing the truth to reach my ears and to linger on my tongue.

Holiness is Viewing Everything As a Gift

“Give thanks in all circumstances; for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus for you.” – I Thessalonians 5:18

We are immersed in a culture that encourages us to inflate our wants until they take on the dimensions of a need.

Reading about the Church fathers and their vows of poverty and humility challenges my sense of entitlement to convenience and comfort.

Viewing my snug and secure surroundings, I know in my heart that everything is a gift from God.

Lingering on this truth changes the way I see everything:

The turkey in my freezer is best used to serve the missionary family with three kids who are visiting in my church and need a place to relax and enjoy Sunday dinner.

The hour on Tuesday morning when I’d usually be “accomplishing something” becomes a gift, offered to a friend who needs a listening ear.

The heartbreaking loss that catches me off guard is also a gift that God uses to break me open to dazzling grace in the midst of disappointment.

Holiness is Learning to Seize the Quiet

“But I have calmed and quieted my soul, like a weaned child with its mother; like a weaned child is my soul within me.” – Psalm 131:2

The practice of Lectio Divina dates back to the 5th century as one of the primary ways for Christians to meditate on Scripture.

It begins with reading (Lectio in Latin) followed by silence (Silencio) and reflection (Meditatio).

Looking for tiny pockets of quiet in my day reminds me that the listening life has a place even in my noisy world.

Looking for tiny pockets of quiet in my day reminds me that the listening life has a place even in my noisy world.CLICK TO TWEET

Phone calls, emails, schedules, and the endless chatter inside my own skull are all noise.

Silence interrupts the noise for a brief time of focus on eternal truth.

One of the best times I’ve learned to practice this is right after I turn out the lamp on my nightstand.

Closing my eyes, I begin to review the day, consciously rehearsing the fact of God’s presence within each event and saying “thank you” when I become aware of a gift of His grace.

Then, if I’m still awake, I practice handing over the details of the next day to the God who listens.

Holiness is Ensuring God Is Glorified in Everything

“Be still, and know that I am God. I will be exalted among the nations, I will be exalted in the earth!” – Psalm 46:10

When my crew gathers around the dining room table for tacos and birthday cake, the chaos does not lend itself to monastic style contemplation of the goodness of God—and yet, God is there, too.

In his book “Life Together”, Dietrich Bonhoeffer also reminded his readers that “without the burden and labor of the day, prayer is not prayer, and without prayer, work is not work.”

Our times of prayer remind us that life is not simply about work, while our work reminds us that life is not simply about prayer.

Our times of prayer remind us that life is not simply about work, while our work reminds us that life is not simply about prayer.CLICK TO TWEET

To our great surprise, we see that God who waits on high to have compassion on us and longs to be gracious to us. He made our bodies and our spirits with a need for all these things.

Thus, when I honor my body by getting sufficient rest and by planning healthful menus for my family, God is there.

When I walk the dog and give thanks for the vast blue sky and the bracing wind in my face, God is there.

When I am ironing the collar of a shirt and folding my son’s jeans still warm from the dryer, God is there.

By turning our attention purposefully toward God in the midst of our ordinary days, we demolish the wall between sacred and secular.

By turning our attention purposefully toward God in the midst of our ordinary days, we demolish the wall between sacred and secular.CLICK TO TWEET

What Does Holiness Look Like for You?

In the framework of a living and vibrant relationship, spiritual disciplines are not impersonal.

You can be an active participant in your own spiritual formation and follow hard after Jesus while firmly embedded in 21st-century life.

Consider the following:

  • How would your prayer life be changed if you began to view it as a breathing-out of words to the One who knows you fully and loves you extravagantly?
  • What if your Bible reading were transformed from a dreary discipline to a daily infusion of Truth, the completion of a circle of communication that your spiritual life depends upon?
  • Can you envision your heart set free to receive whatever comes to you each day as a gift, with peace and the firm conviction that God is the Giver?

Show up every day in the quiet of God’s unwavering attention and remember and rejoice that God is present.

He longs to meet you in the ordinary moments of your life.

 

This post first appeared at Living By Design.

Everyday Habits of Holiness

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Michele Morin

Michele Morin is a teacher, blogger, reader, and gardener who finds joy in sitting at a table surrounded by women with open Bibles. She has been married to an unreasonably patient husband for nearly 30 years, and together they have four sons, two daughters-in-love, two grandchildren, and one lazy St. Bernard. Michele loves hot tea and well-crafted sentences, poems that stop her in her tracks and days at the ocean with the whole family. She laments biblical illiteracy and advocates for the prudent use of “little minutes.” She blogs at Living Our Days, and you can connect with her on Facebook or Twitter.

45 thoughts on “Everyday Habits of Holiness”

  1. This is wonderful, Michele. I have tried many techniques to ‘remind’ me to pray and connect with God throughout my day and continue to forget. I loved this; “Focused attention on God through moments of prayer helps release us from our position at the center of the universe.” What a relief is this truth!

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  2. Wonderful post, Michele. It gave me new insight to the church bells I hear faintly at the noon hour. You have made me wonder what might happen if they began to serve as a reminder to pray. I wonder if this was not the original purpose – a call for townspeople to pray wherever they may be. Your words surely will turn my thoughts to prayer when I hear them next 🙂

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  3. In my early Christian life, I didn’t think something had been “officially” prayed for unless it happened during my devotional time. Odd how we get notions like that – we don’t talk to anyone else that way. It was a transformative moment for me to realize I could talk to the Lord all day, even while I was doing other things – just like my talk with others in my household. It’s still good to carve out some quiet one-on-one time, but we can talk with Him all day, not just during those set-aside times.

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  4. Love, love, love this Michele. I’ve used most of these techniques, but see one I’ve missed. I say thank you throughout the day, but I don’t lay there each night thinking about the day and saying thank you. Perhaps that is why many nights I don’t fall asleep. I lay there and pray for others, but tonight I’m trying your technique. Thank you.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. It’s great to think through all the ways in which we can be more intentional about our relationship with God. And we don’t have to leave behind our every day life in order to do it.

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  5. I enjoyed those tips Michelle, thank you…I have been learning more & more to just sit in God’s serenity, truly sitting, resting & even walking in His peace that passes all understanding. As having chronic pain can have the body under enormous tension & stress which affects everything.
    I don’t have any children at home, so my husband & I can have both our joint times of prayer together & our individual quiet times with the Lord & His Word. We cherish both.
    Jennifer

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    1. I’m sorry, Jennifer, to learn that you are dealing with chronic pain. Thank you for this important insight that it truly is God’s megaphone for heightening our awareness of Him.
      It’s so good to hear from you.

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  6. Such great advice, Michele, to keep in constant communion with God. It sure takes the legalistic sting out of it and frees us to enjoy our bond with God and to hear His voice more clearly. Thank you!

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    1. Oh, what a great observation! When we practice spiritual disciplines, we are really working on a relationship with a loving and holy Person. I want to work on hearing His voice, so that when it comes I will recognize Him.

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  7. This brought a smile to my face because I tried that exact same practice and came to a similar conclusion. While it served me well for a time, and always reminded me to at least offer a quick prayer over whatever was happening in that moment, more and more often the timer seemed to sound in the middle of a conversation. In our phone-obsessed culture, I just got uncomfortable finding myself even more bound to it. I decided to table the practice until summer, so I could focus on a way to remind myself of my need for God’s ever-present-help in a way that was less of an announcement to my companions that my attention had shifted. That said, thanks for this helpful post, an encouragement to abide in Christ.

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    1. So great to hear your story and to know you have folded the experience into a heightened awareness of the need to be in prayer. I’m working hard to pray in the moment, the minute I hear of a need or when God brings something to mind. By His Spirit, I believe that He can call us to prayer!

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  8. Hello, Friend! Why do we get hung up with thinking holiness means ivory tower living? Separating ourselves for God’s counsel, His pleasure and glory, doesn’t mean living apart from His children. How would it change our lives if we began to view holiness as a gift of God? Blessings, Dear Teacher!

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  9. Another great idea that you’ve shared and I’ve garnered from you. The setting aside prayer time all day and the phone as a reminder. Have a wonderful week.

    Peabea from Peabea Scribbles

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  10. Growing up I was never religious, but since I got together with my now Hubby, I found myself leaning towards the Church of England. I got married in a church and my firstborn has been christened as will his younger brothers when they’re born.
    I’ve always been fascinated by religion and the way that people embrace it into their lives and thats something I’m working on. i dont want to be the person who only prays in dark times, I want to know that someone is always looking over me and my family protecting us. #globalblogging

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    1. I love your heart, mostly because it mirrors the heart of God toward you. He wants conversation and relationship in the good times as well as the bad. And really, that’s the only way to get to know Him well.
      Blessings to you on this journey, and I’m praying that as you turn toward Him and realize He’s been there all along, you will be encouraged to continue the search. (Jeremiah 29:12, 13 — Then you will call upon me and come and pray to me, and I will hear you. You will seek me and find me, when you seek me with all your heart. )

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  11. Delighted to find you on the #globalbloggers linky Michelle! We share 4 things in common from your bio: over 20 yrs married, with 4 kids, being a blogger and delighting in studying and sharing the Word with women! I find it interesting that your call to prayer comes at the most inopportune moments. It makes me like to think that God reminds us to call on Him and rely on Him at any stage, especially the busiest; and that His presence with us is so immediate, so swift, we can enter into it at any given moment.

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    1. Liberty, I loved reading the bio over at your place as well. You’ve got a great sampling of geography in your rear view mirror! And thank you for words today about the “swift” presence of God. I love thinking of it in that way. After all, we’re the one’s whose attention becomes diverted. His never does!

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  12. Hi Michele, I’m visiting from the Purposeful Faith Link up. Like you, I tried setting my cell phone alarm to help me pray the Liturgy of the Hours, and like you, that alarm rang at the most inconvenient times! Love these ideas – thanks for sharing!

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    1. Oh, Colleen, what is it about those timers??
      It’s like the phone that always rings when you’re up to your elbows in bread dough!
      Thanks for commiserating–so glad to know it’s not just me!

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  13. Michele, I subscribe to Sarah’s newsletters, so I received this delightful blog post in my email last week! It was so fun to see you featured there! (I tried to leave a comment, but I couldn’t find a place to do so), so I’m glad you posted it here as well.

    I love the suggestion of setting a timer to pray! And of course, it would frequently ring during the “un-interruptable” (not a word) times of the day! 😉
    Being sure to take time with the lord is necessary, and it does take discipline sometimes. I personally think God appreciates when we make the effort to include him in our days!

    I’m happily featuring this post at #destinationInspiration linkup tomorrow!

    Blessings! ❤

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    1. As much of an honor as it is to be featured at your place, Rachel, it’s an even bigger blessing to me to read these words about your own resolve to make those good habits of holiness part of your every day. And since there is no comment space over at Living By Design, it was so kind of you to come on over here and say hi!
      Blessings to you!

      Liked by 1 person

  14. Since I have started working again. My favourite time is in the car on the way to work. It is quiet and I am able to reflect and spend time in prayer. It’s a great way to start my day! #globalblogging

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