When it comes to my own habits, I manage and keep track using a handful of tools: a to-do app, a paper calendar, a journal, and Evernote. For Bible and devotional reading, I use hard copies, which are always near at hand on my desk at home. When I go to the office, I keep a secondary copy of the Scriptures to the left of my computer monitor. If I don’t read at home to begin the day, Bible reading is my first task once I reach the office.
I use Microsoft To-Do, and one of my daily tasks is sacred reading: four chapters from the Bible, a daily devotional, meditation on a psalm portion I’m memorizing, and prayer. I work from my to-do list, and while this habit has become almost automatic, I get to enjoy the satisfaction of checking it off. I also plan out monthly, quarterly, and annual moments for reflection on goals, my well-being, what’s been accomplished, and what is ahead.
I’ve tried other apps in the past. I’ve tried the Bible app, not only to look up a passage, but also to follow along with a reading plan. I’ve tried journaling apps and habit trackers. I’ve used Nike+ to track runs, and now I use a Garmin device to monitor other health markers. I gave Strava a try, but felt I didn’t gain much from it. My current set is what works for me.
But, since I teach in the area of Christian spiritual formation, I sometimes wonder what other people are doing, what works for them. I recently learned about the Way of Life Habit Tracker, and Streaks. Both work from the “Don’t Break the Chain” concept. For journaling, some use Day One or the Five Minute Journal app.
I don’t often have many commenters among my readership. But if you’re reading this, do you use apps to keep you on track in your spiritual life? Have you integrated technology into your faith-life rhythms? If yes, how so? If not, how did you establish your habits? What works? What doesn’t?
In the seminary where I serve, we invite students to develop a rule of life. We’ve reach Ken Shigematsu’s God in My Everything or Justin Whitmel Earley’s Common Rule or Stephen Macchia’s Crafting a Rule of Life to help us think about habits and faith-formation. All, in some way, adopt the principles found in The Rule of St. Benedict, modernizing an ancient approach to developing an orderly, well-ordered way of following Christ. We seek to be disciplined, and steadfast. We try to steer clear of legalistic tendencies, or empty ritual. Practices are chosen thoughtfully and after discernment. They are adopted as an act of obedience to Christ, as a way to learn his Way.
If you attend church on the weekends, worship God, and take part in some kind of small group study, those are keystone habits! If you pray, read Scripture, fast, serve, practice generosity, that’s great, too. There are a whole host of spiritual disciplines that can be regularly taken up. And there is more than one way to develop a habit.
How have you established your spiritual habits and rhythms? What wisdom have you gained? What questions are still with you?