We’ve been trying to build holy habits the past couple of days (here and here). But why? Let me give you four reasons to develop the holy habits of prayer, Bible reading, and meditation.

1. They become hard not to do
What was once hard to do can become hard not to do. Once you get into a habit of daily prayer and Bible reading, it becomes hard to break the habit, no matter how many things call us away from it. Look at Daniel; there was so much pressure on him not to pray. But it had become so customary for him that rather than being hard to do in these circumstances, it was hard not to do.

You can now put your socks on without thinking. But it was not always like that. Initially it was impossible. But as you practiced, the weak neural connections got bigger and stronger and eventually created such a strong pattern that you can now put your socks on without falling over.

When you start praying and reading your Bible or meditating it feels really hard and you think, I can’t do this for a week, never mind a lifetime. But the more you do it, the easier it becomes. 

2. They improve our feelings

You may say, “I don’t feel like praying or reading my Bible.” Do you think Daniel did? Especially that day? But actual doing, reading, praying, lifts our feelings.

Although I disagree with Jay Adams, the pioneer Biblical Counselor, on some important matters, I do agree with him that habits can regulate feelings, or at least actions can.

He often quotes the example of ironing. He says that so many women say to him, “I’m so unhappy because all the ironing is just piling up and yet I just don’t feel like doing it.” He argues that just picking a shirt and ironing it, will change the feelings and even give a sense of joy in accomplishment. And that surge of feelings motivates further ironing, thus building a virtuous cycle.

So, instead of “habitual” Bible reading or prayer emptying the joy and freedom from these spiritual activities, exactly the opposite occurs. 

3. They shape character

Just as one bad habit tends to breed more bad habits, so good habits tend to breed other good habits. Sow an action, reap a habit; sow a habit reap a character; sow a character, reap a destiny.

Just like Daniel, those who establish these holy habits tend to have holy characters and standout from the crowd.

“Dare to be a Daniel” was not the result of some one-off, macho, spiritual weightlifting. His courage was not some rare supreme effort that he managed to work up. Rather it was the final product of years and years of character-shaping holy habits.

4. They reveal Christ to the soul
As we go on in the book of Daniel, we see Daniel being given increasing insight into the Scriptures and the person and work of Christ. In fact the pre-incarnate Son of God comes to him at least twice and shows Himself to Daniel in overwhelming ways. 

What a blessing holy habits are. Yes, at times they may become rather mechanistic and ritualistic, no matter how hard we fight this. I’m sure Daniel had days like this too. But if we prayerfully persevere in them, as Daniel did, we will be made wise unto salvation and know Christ in deeper and deeper ways.