Repeated practice is one of the most basic principles of becoming good at something. Whatever we practice most is what we will become. A much touted theory suggests that practising any skill for 10,000 hours is sufficient to make you an expert. The theory depends on that deliberate practice being good practice, so as to enable anyone to become an expert at anything.
It’s no surprise that what we practice is going to become second nature to us. As my son’s classical guitar teacher tells him, “eventually as you practice you gain muscle memory and your fingers will play almost automatically what you have repeatedly practiced. Perhaps that muscle memory comes into play far more than we realise. Our thoughts go instantly to certain thoughts when someone says something. Our face expressions respond almost automatically on hearing or thinking particular things. Our bodies respond a certain way in circumstances.
Repeated practice causes us to form habits, and as we all know we can form positive habits or negative ones. We can get in the habit of being uptight whenever life isn’t quite right, repeatedly reacting to criticism by defending ourselves, insisting on always being right, and seeing every challenge in life as an opportunity for a melt-down. If we practice these responses most we will eventually automatically have these responses to life.
Likewise if we choose to focus on the positive, to spend time with Jesus and read God’s word as a matter of practice and habit it will bring forth qualities of compassion, patience, love, joy, peace, self control, and kindness because that is what we practice.
“But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, forbearance, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control.” (Galatians 5:22-23)
That is in a sense what “working out” our salvation is all about; it’s allowing whom God has made us to be to be outworked in our lives; continually working to bring something to completion or fruition in our lives.
Jesus said it this way, “Therefore everyone who hears these words of mine and puts them into practice is like a wise man who built his house on the rock.” (Matthew 7:24)
“Therefore, my beloved, as you have always obeyed, so now, not only as in my presence but much more in my absence, work out your own salvation with fear and trembling, for it is God who works in you, both to will and to work for his good pleasure.” (Philippians 2:12-13)
It’s immensely helpful to become more conscious of our own habits. The Holy Spirit helps us with this by giving us gentle reminders when we are practicing the negatives. He helps us by reminding us to think about what we are thinking about. To shift our focus off ourselves and onto Jesus and what the bible says; to think and choose to respond positively. What am I focusing on? Where is my attention? Am I cultivating habits that are helpful, and what I want my life to stand for?
Today ask yourself, “Am I practicing what I want to become, or do I need to choose a different type of practice to change my habits and the outcome? Am I listening to the Holy Spirit’s gentle reminders? Am I making it a habit of putting good things into my life, which will help me become the person God created me to be.
Am I practicing what I want to become?
Prayer: Lord please help me to practice what I want to become most, and that I will allow you to speak into those areas where I need to focus on the good and positive rather than the negative. In Jesus name Amen.