While up late in the evenings with Ian, I did a lot of reading those early days. One such reading was a very interesting look on habits, I can't remember the title. The study basically talked about how habits develop...
Usually during Lent we tackle a habit - be it a habit that we are trying to give up (like coffee or swearing) or a habit we are trying to adopt (like praying). Either way Lent is a prefect time to tackle this because according to research 6 weeks is the magic number and Lent is 40 days + Sundays ... 6 weeks is the magic number for pattern to become a habit. Adopting a new habit is a bit easier then changing an old, but either way 6 weeks is the normal.
And here it is week 4 of Lent and my new "habit" of writing a blog on Wednesday has lapsed, for today it is Friday. And if I do recall correctly there was one week I was already behind once before. You see, we as humans are pretty hard to change! We get into patterns of habit and then our brains shut-down. In fact when brain scans are taken, they show that when we are participating in our habitual behaviors the part of our brain that deals with more automatic behavior (like breathing) is working. We are thus being less "mindful" to use a recently coined term. And in some ways and for some things that isn't a bad thing.
But it is when we are trying to better ourselves or our relationship with God for our very selves are working against us. It is easier for our brains - without thinking - to cycle back into the pattern that it knows. It is easy for our lives to remain the same and unchanged even if that isn't the best way to live because changing our habits requires a lot of effort and a lot of mindfulness. Connecting with God, although could be automatic, shouldn't be something that is none mindlessly like a habit - for if it is, then are we truly listening and being open to the Holy Spirit?
I challenge us, not just this lent but for the next 6 weeks and the 6 weeks after that, to rethink our patterns and to find ways to include mindful prayer into our lives.