Borrowed Truths

Bad Habits

Borrowed Truths

Bad Habits

After I had slowed down, checked every direction twice and my rear-view mirror, I turned right and continued onto my intended destination. The passenger in the vehicle with me mentioned that I had neglected to use my turn signal at the intersection and said that doing so each time was a good habit to get into. I informed him that I had clear visibility for over a half a mile in all four directions, there were no pedestrians present or vehicles coming, and that turn signals are to inform the traveling public of my intentions while I am on the road. Since neither of these were within the range of my visibility, there was no reason to use the turn signal. I then said something that gave me cause to write this letter to you, any habits that we have without giving any thought to the reasons behind our actions, is a bad habit.

We should always have a reason to support the meaning of our actions, to perform a task without thinking is rather a redundant gesture, for was not the habit first formed within us by the initial actions which were necessary to perform it. The action is still being performed, it is just that the task, which has been repeated several thousand times by now, no longer requires as much effort of thought as it did when it was first begun. In other words, it is now a repetitive task, which should enable the brain to perform other functions while the task is being adhered to, but that is not always the case.

This ability to perform repetitive tasks is a highly valued trait for those who seek to hire individuals in manufacturing plants around the world, repetition means less dedication of the thought process, and so the distraction of having to “think,” as it were, means higher efficacy rates, a breach or stoppage in the repetition though can cause the line to stop, which lowers production. If the mind begins to wander away from the prescribed course set by the continuing of the habit, personal injury can occur.  In other words, people who can perform repetitive task all day long are highly sought after, yet they are generally the lowest paid, it is the ones who are doing the calculative thinking that earn the most.

Any habit that we do will eventually become a bad habit, at the very least, or perhaps we should call it the at the most, for they stifle the mind from continued growth, from seeking the new and different, and it continues to drive the desires to the same place that is has always been, the known, the repetition of the same. The rut has begun, and the longer these individuals remain in it, the more difficult it is to escape it.

Each evening my lovely wife and I are blessed to sit down to a meal together, and every time we hold hands and give thanks to the Lord for that meal. They are short prayers, but they are heartfelt and given in true thanksgiving. One of the things that I try to remember on these occasions is that God is taking the time, if you will, to listen to me, that I have been allowed to enter into His presence, and I will use all of my abilities to not waste His time while I am there. If He has been gracious enough to allow me entrance into His throne room, I can take the time to make sure that what I am saying is from my heart and in gratitude of His blessings. This is not the time for long prayers and requests, it is time to give thanks and then to eat, but what of those other times.

How do you approach the throne of His grace, nonchalantly, with an almost informal attitude, with the repetitiveness of habit? This would be a very bad habit to fall into my friends, a very bad habit indeed. There are religious organizations that tell their followers that they must count beads, that they must repeat certain prayers over and over, that there is a specific pattern to prayers that must be adhered to preciously and in order every time, a habit that one must continue in if they desire for the Lord to hear and answer their prayers. This is nonsense in the extreme, and more than disrespectful to our Father in heaven. “But when ye pray, use not vain repetitions, as the heathen do: for they think that they shall be heard for their much speaking.” (Matt. 6:7) These so-called prayers are treated almost as some sort of magic incantation, as if there is some certain number of times that they must be repeated before our Lord will hear and respond to them, six times is not enough, it must be seven before He will listen.

Any deviation and they will not receive acknowledgement from Him, the words flow with no more meaning than the repetition they represent, the habit of them and the hopes that they will be heard simply because they are repeated. Many religious organizations practice these habits, the person behind the podium say this, you say that, you read and repeat that and He reads the next line, you say aloud what you are suppose to say, and on and on it goes, every single weekend, no variance from the known is allowed, the habit has been set in stone. The rut is clearly visible and easy to follow. Even if you are in a Christ centered church, the pattern, the habits become inevitable over time, pray, sing, pray, announcements and offerings, message, pray, see you next week, we will do it all over again just like last time but with a slight variance in the announcements and the message.

I once asked a friend of mine who is a pastor if he had ever given any thought to performing the Sunday morning service in a different pattern, perhaps backwards just to see how the fellowship would react. Needless to say, it did not happen and never will, the congregation would not know how to respond to this change, this variance from the known habit, it would not be what is expected. I might well have asked him to give his Christmas morning message in the month of June.

That is the point here my friends, whether it’s a turn signal, a different Sunday morning service format or the expected sermon at the expected time, far too many believers have fallen into a self-imposed trap, churches that are supposed to be alive and vibrant are dead or dying because of habits, and all habits that are done without thinking are bad habits. God is not some magic genie that you should expect to answer you because you repeated some words over and over again, He is not someone that you want to treat as an informal companion who does no more than sit around all day and wait for you to come and tell Him what you want so that your life will go the way that you want it to go. If you cannot come into His presence with the presence of mind that He is Almighty God, Sovereign Lord and Creator of all that is, perhaps you should you stop praying all together. This evil ideology that God is nothing but love, that He wants us to be happy all the time and never suffer any trouble whatsoever, that we can do, say or act in any manner we want and He will still give us all that we want is not only beyond ridiculous but is blasphemous in the extreme.

The very first thing that should come into your mind when you bow your head, get on your knees or raise your arms to heaven, however you pray, is that you are a servant, a bond-slave, your place is to give praise, honor and glory to the One that sits upon the throne, not walk in there repeating yourself over and over or asking for things right at the beginning. Ask of Him anything that you will but do it only after these first items have been accomplished, never come boldly to the throne of grace without abject humility. Ask of Him exactly want you want, what the desires of your heart are when your first responsibilities have been completed, and then thank Him for whatever He decides to do.

A rut is a grave that is open at both ends, get out of it, get away from those bad habits, stop praying the same things over and over with a “I want” thrown in for good measure, get out of the bad habit of repetition for the sake of repetition. He is your Father and He loves you deeply, speak to Him with a heart that realizes that, but never forget that He is your Lord and your God, and deserves all of your reverence and praise, not because of what He can give you or the wonders of an eternity in His presence and all of the pleasures of heaven that await us, but because He is. Tell Him that you love Him, tell Him thank you, our Lord loves it when we talk with Him, and you will be blessed for blessing Him.

Come before Him with fear and trembling, great humility and reverence, come to Him in prayer with thanksgiving and praise on your lips and in your heart. Come to Him in the confidence of the never-ending love that He has for you, a love that you will know for all of eternity. Come with praise and thanksgiving into His courts, what greater thing could you ask of Him than to be in His presence?   

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