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Habits for the Heart

May 13, 2024

This post is by Cheli Sigler.

I am a thinker. I love Bible study because it grows my faith and stretches my brain. My prayer when I was a public-school teacher was “As my students’ minds sharpen, may their hearts soften.” My discipleship has favored my mind. As a Hello Mornings participant and leader, I have gravitated towards habits of the mind. But this summer God taught me how to develop God-Time habits of the heart.

‘And you shall love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind and with all your strength.’ (Mark 12:30)

Throughout the summer I was challenged to adopt daily habits that orient my heart toward God. Adding to what I’ve learned through Hello Mornings, two books were instrumental in helping come to some new understanding: You Are What You Love, by James K.A. Smith, and The Common Rule: Habits of Purpose for An Age of Distraction, by Justin Earley. I joined with other thinkers and we practiced heart habits.

As we read and shared together, we uncovered what James K.A. Smith calls our “disordered loves.” Among the most common were comfort, ease, control, and “me” time. Sound familiar? Our culture habituates us to love these things. Our hearts are not automatically oriented toward God; our hearts must be trained to love Him. Justin Earley uses the metaphor of a trellis to explain the importance of habits in growing our love of God. As a trellis guides a plant’s growth in the direction the gardener desires, godly habits point our hearts toward the mind and heart of God.

The first habit, new to me, was kneeling prayer at morning, midday, and evening. Making progress in this habit, the morning kneeling prayer is now a regular part of my wakeup routine. This habit grows my heart connection to God as it puts me at His feet—my posture and my heart submitted to Him.

Whereas my God-Time includes scripture, my second habit is to read scripture before I pick up my phone. Yes, my phone is full of Bibles, but picking up a physical Bible and reading it before I touch my phone orients me toward God and His love and away from the love of approval by others and the “tyranny of the urgent” created by bad phone habits.

Throughout the month of June, I combined the two habits, praying Psalm 143. If you have practiced the 3 Minute Morning Routine from Hello Mornings, then you know Psalm 143:8:

Let the morning bring me word of your unfailing love,

for I have put my trust in you.

Show me the way I should go,

for to you I entrust my life. (NIV)

I have finally memorized this verse, after years of being part of Hello Mornings, because of my new habits. After a week of focus on this verse, I found myself waking up with Psalm 143:8 on my lips—the very first thought, the very first words of my day. My heart was seeking His heart at the outset of my daily routine.

Finally, I am thankful that God gave me the opportunity and resources to learn new tools to transform my God-Time. As a result, I am better equipped to love Him with all my heart, soul, mind, and strength.

Cheli Sigler pursues her God-given purpose of teaching from her home base in sunny Orlando, FL where she and her husband, Matt, raise two teenage daughters. She is involved in Hello Mornings as a group leader mentor and writer. Inviting people to sharpen their minds and soften their hearts for God’s purpose and the world, Cheli shares ideas and resources on her blog, Sharpen to Soften.


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