4 Practical Tips to Make Lectio Divina a Daily Habit

 #1: Make it a “mini habit”

“Mini habits” are small & easy versions of the desired habits you wish to form.
  • They are great because they (1) bypass any motivation issue (which is an unreliable source to establish a new habit) and they (2) do not drain your willpower (which is a limited resource, like a smartphone battery).

Examples & Tips:

  1. Minify it –> Desired habit = meditate daily for 15 minutes –> Mini habit = meditate daily for 1 minute.
  2. “Bonus reps” –> Mini habits often lead to “bonus reps” (You planned 1 minute but ended up going for 5 minutes). Celebrate these “bonus reps” but don’t adjust your mini habit too soon.
  3. Don’t set the bar too high –> If you feel a strong resistance to pray with Scripture, back off and go smaller.
  4. “If something is worth doing, it’s worth doing poorly” (G.K. Chesterton) –> Don’t worry about praying “well” or feeling anything during prayer. Just commit to making it a daily habit and it will improve over time.

#2: Habit stacking

“Before / After I [CURRENT HABIT], I will [NEW HABIT].”

Examples & Tips:

  1. Make a list of daily habits –> and find something that you can easily stack with mental prayer. Examples: Before I eat breakfast (or watch a show on Netflix), I will pray with the Gospel of the day for 5 minutes; after I eat dinner (or pour my morning cup of coffee), I will pray with Sunday’s Gospel for 2 minutes.
  2. If you miss it, use the “if-then” strategy –> Example: “If I was not able to meditate this morning, then I will immediately after dinner.” One of the keys to building new habits is never missing it twice.

 #3: Design your environment

To build a habit of praying with Scripture, create an environment that fosters it.
  • By “priming” your environment for future success, you’ll make new habits much easier to perform.

Examples & Tips:

  1. The more cues = the better –> Each cue increases the odds of success. Examples: Put your Bible in a visible place that you see every day; download a Bible app and put it on the front page; take a picture of a written commitment to pray with Scripture and use it as your background image on your phone & laptop; set an alarm on your phone with a specific reminder; have a friend text you daily to ask whether you got it done; sign up for the Regnum Christi daily meditations on the Gospel (they will email you daily w/audio version too).
  2. Remove negative environment cues –> Examples: Put your phone on airplane mode while praying; set an alarm on your phone so you don’t have to check your watch; lock your door so no one comes in unexpected.
  3. Have an accountability partner –> Examples: Daily check-in; have a punishment for not completing your mini habit (like having to give him/her $1 per day you miss); meet up with him/her to pray with Scripture.

 #4: Celebrate your success

“When you do a behavior and feel a positive emotion about it, your brain pays attention. It essentially thinks, ‘Wow, that felt good. I want to do that behavior again!’” (BJ Fogg).

Examples & Tips:

  1. Celebrate on the spot –> while praying or within a second of completing it.
  2. The stronger the emotion, the more deeply your brain rewires –> include physical movements, vocal phrases, visual images. Examples: Say “Praise the Lord!” and smile; say “Thank you Jesus!” and picture the angels and saints around you cheering you on as you give a thumbs up to them; say “I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me!” and fist pump.

 

Comments

  1. Great post Richard. I have appreciated your blogs about mini-habits and your application to the Catholic life. After reading these books do you have any thoughts on removing bad habits?

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