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Christian Growth

The Two-Minute Rule for Habit Formation

When I was a young mom, a popular Adventist speaker frequently traveled around the country to tell his experiences of God’s interventions in his work and personal life. He was not a pastor or denominational employee. He credited these amazing divine providences to the long hours he spent every day reading his Bible and praying in order to know and to submit to God’s will.

Like many others in his audiences, I too wanted to see firsthand God at work. Because I was a stay-at-home mom with a toddler, I thought it might be possible for me to carve out at least one hour a day to read my Bible and pray.

Religion, Christianity, Praying.  Man praying, hands clasped together on her Bible.So, on January 1, I began my New Year’s Resolution to spend an hour a day “with God.” This plan gave me feelings of peace and self-satisfaction as I kept a watchful eye for God’s wonderful interventions.

But on January 9, my beautiful, loving 25-year-old sister-in-law died suddenly and unexpectedly. My theological world fell apart. I dumped my new “habit.” An hour? I couldn’t even pray. It took time and a wise pastor to put all the pieces back together again for me.

My New Year’s Resolution may have ended more dramatically than most, but it is commonly reported that by February, more than half of all resolutions are abandoned. One of the key reasons is that people attempt to do too much.

James Clear, an authority on habit formation and the author of Atomic Habits, says that to build a habit, you have to start small and make it easy[1]. He advocates the Two-Minute Rule. For example, if you want to develop the habit of reading your Bible every day, make a commitment to read it for just two minutes. It is more important to start small and be consistent than to attempt too much. Who is so busy that they cannot read their Bible for two minutes?

Clear does a lot of traveling, which puts his commitment to do 50 pushups a day at risk. But no matter how rushed he is or what hotel he is staying in, he does at least one pushup a day. That one pushup does nothing for his muscles, but it keeps his habit healthy.

Making a specific plan and making the habit easy are two other important techniques Clear advocates for developing and maintaining a habit.

Make it specific
. I will read my Bible ___[when] in ___[location]. Example: “I will read my Bible before breakfast in the blue chair in the family room.”

Make it easy
. Have a reading plan. Don’t wait to decide until it’s time to read.

As you begin to slowly increase the time you spend, remember to fall back on the Two-Minute Rule in order not to miss a day.

These techniques for forming the habit of Bible reading every day will work for you and for any of your students who are old enough to read the Bible on their own.

[1] Clear, J. (2018). Atomic habits. New York, NY: Penguin Random House.

 

Jane Thayer

Jane Thayer, PhD, Associate Professor of Religious Education, Emerita, Andrews University, USA. Has taught academy and college English, graduate religious education, and Christian spirituality. While working in Andrews University’s public relations office, edited Focus magazine, Andrews’ alumni journal. Served as university assessment director.
Jane Thayer

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One comment

  • | 9 months ago

    This was particularly helpful today, Jane! I have been enjoying James Clear myself. He has a great blog with lots of good, simple tips. But I needed to be reminded of this one again on this very day. Thanks.

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