As a millennial, I was recently informed that I want options. I have unlimited choices at my fingertips. I weigh them and go with what seems best.
Habit is a bad word these days. If you act out of habit, you didn’t weigh your options. You might be missing out! Does this fear resonate with any other of my fellow millennials?
But then you have a week like I just had. I was up before 5 a.m. three mornings in a row so I could be on the road by 6:45 a.m., drive an hour, teach kids all day, drive another hour and get home exhausted by about six in the evening. On two of those evenings, I had further commitments that kept me going hard until bedtime. I was dead beat.
Habit was my saving grace. Because I’ve made it a habit to read my Bible first thing after my shower in the morning, I was able to pull it out even when my brain felt like it had flat-lined.
After I read Scripture, I pray every morning and even habitually follow the same order: I praise God, pray for my husband, myself, my family, church, neighbors. Before you cringe over my lack of originality and spontaneity, remember how Jesus taught us to pray:
Our Father in heaven,
Hallowed be your name.
Your kingdom come,
Your will be done,
On earth as it is in heaven.
Give us this day our daily bread,
And forgive us our debts,
As we also have forgiven our debtors.
And lead us not into temptation,
But deliver us from evil. (Matthew 6:9-13)
He gave us a set pattern. Now I love times of passionate intercession and honest conversation with God. But when you are dead tired, sometimes all you can get out is the prayer you know by heart. Our church recites those verses corporately every Sunday. Some people are afraid we don’t think about the words anymore. They don’t want the prayer to become something we just say out of habit. I understand those concerns. But I’ll tell you one thing: I can say that prayer half-asleep, driving down the interstate, and something deep in my heart clicks into the right gear.
In 2 Timothy 1:13, Paul tells Timothy, “Follow the pattern of the sound words that you have heard from me, in the faith and love that are in Christ Jesus.” Did you hear that? The pattern. Paul establishes some order for young Timothy’s preaching and limits his options.
Millennials, we could use a little order in our lives. A few less options. When you are well-rested and energized, you can more easily weigh your options and make a choice. But too many options combined with too little sleep paralyzes us. Some mornings my inner millennial takes over and I debate: should I shower first, then do my quiet time, then clean the bathroom? Or should I clean the bathroom first, shower second, and do my quiet time last? I waste time deciding and end up feeling guilty because I think I chose poorly.
It’s blessedly freeing to have a morning ritual that I can follow even in a semi-somnambulant state. And sometimes it’s wonderful to have a prayer to say when blessedly little is clicking in my brain. Let’s take habit off the list of dirty words. We need it.
My friend, Jeanne, shared this prayer with me, a great one for when I’m tired or paralyzed by too many options:
Father, I want to seek You and Your will for my life above all else. Please guide me to the work you want me to do, and give me the strength to accomplish it. Amen.