“Ill habits gather by unseen degrees –
As brooks make rivers, rivers run to seas.”
~John Dryden, Absalom and Achitophel, 1681
If we were fully aware of how far-reaching our bad habits were, we would use any means necessary to get rid of them.
Fortunately for us, God has made many provisions for getting rid of bad habits and starting new ones. The old must be replaced by the new – how long can you keep away a bad habit if you haven’t replaced it with a good one? For example, if you have a habit of sleeping in until 8am, in order to break that habit, you must establish a new habit of waking up earlier.
I’ve put together a list of 9 Scripture verses that can help inspire and encourage us as we create new habits for the New Year.
1. Renew your mind. ‘Do not conform to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind.’ – Romans 12:2 How do we renew our mind? By studying Scripture, of course. We must remove ourselves from the world and deepen ourselves in God’s Word to know what He wants for us, what our habits should be. Less World, More Christ.
2. Ask for God’s help. ‘Do not be anxious about anything, but in every situation, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God.’ – Philippians 4:6 We can’t do it alone. God longs for us to ask for His help and to desire to be better. Don’t worry about your weaknesses; God will make up the difference.
3. Be positive. ‘Finally, brothers and sisters, whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable–if anything is excellent or praiseworthy–think about such things.’ – Philippians 4:8 It’s hard to change! Believe you can do it. Think about the good that you are striving for. Focus on how wonderful it will be when you have a new habit to replace the old.
4. Just do it. ‘Be perfect, therefore, as your heavenly Father is perfect.’ – Matthew 5:48 Don’t put it off anymore. God wants us to be holy, set apart for Him. We should desire holiness and make it a habit.
5. Ask for forgiveness. ‘”Even now,” declares the LORD, “return to me with all your heart, with fasting and weeping and mourning.”‘ – Joel 2:12 Confession is a powerful, grace-giving sacrament, designed to help rid us of those bad habits so we can start fresh. Forgive yourself, forgive others, and let God forgive you.
6. Do the hard work. ‘Then Jesus said to his disciples, “Whoever wants to be my disciple must deny themselves and take up their cross and follow me.’ – Matthew 16:24 Jesus didn’t promise a life of ease, and breaking and making habits is definitely not easy. I fail all the time, but I know I have to keep trying, to do my best for the Lord.
7. Be humble. ‘And Mary said, “Behold, I am the servant of the Lord; let it be to me according to your word.”’ – Luke 1:38a Admitting our flaws can be so hard sometimes, but we can’t change if we aren’t willing to embrace who we are. God can only work with us if we allow Him. He has amazing plans in store, ones that are far better than ours. We must trust our good God to take over our lives, to transform us.
8. Detach. ‘Rather, clothe yourselves with the Lord Jesus Christ, and do not think about how to gratify the desires of the flesh.’ – Romans 13:14 The worldly things around us want to take over. The devil wants to keep us in our bad habits, our sin, and there are certainly plenty of distractions to keep us there. If we keep our focus on God, the rest will diminish, enabling us to live for God and not the world. Less World, More Christ!
9. Trust God. ‘For I can do everything through Christ, who gives me strength.’ – Philippians 4:13 God wants to fulfill the holy desires of our heart; He placed them there! Trust God will give you the strength and graces you need to make those new habits and break the old ones. He longs for it!
A Final Note – I have found praying novenas very helpful in starting new habits. Since novenas are only 9 days of prayer, it’s an easy way to be consistent in something, it gives me confidence to try something more challenging, and it increases my prayer life, which is an added bonus. Plus, the folks over at praymorenovenas.com make it easy with email reminders. Today is the first day of the Christ the King novena. What a perfect way to end this liturgical year as we gear up for the next!
What are some of your favorite Scripture verses or saint quotes that inspire a change for the better in your life?