As I near the completion of my Ph.D. in Cognition and Instruction, I am sincerely amazed by how God created the human brain. Frankly, there are so many aspects of this incredible organ we may never know or understand. And yet, taking time to better understand what is known about the brain can certainly help explain why we do what we do . . . both good and bad.
For example, in many ways, the brain is similar to a processor and hard drive in a computer. Regarding a computer, algorithms determine how and where information is encoded and stored. Then, when specific commands are given, the machine automatically retrieves the information needed to perform the exact action associated with the command. As long as no new information is introduced and stored, the same function will be performed by the computer every time, without fail. In the same way, each of us perform automatic behaviors everyday because, like a computer, everything involving those actions has been programmed into our brain. Therefore, unless new information is introduced and stored, there is no reason for these actions or habits to ever change.
Prayer and reading the Bible are two of the most basic spiritual disciplines commanded by God, Yet, according to research, only about 4% of married Christian couples ever pray or read the Bible together. While this likely comes as no surprise, what may be an eye opener to you is this research also revealed that when Christian spouses share religious practices at home, less than 1% ever divorce and levels of marriage satisfaction among them is significantly higher than those who don’t.
Obviously, God intends for Christian husbands and wives to incorporate these two basic disciplines into their marriage. The numbers don’t lie about the benefits. Yet, before any of these disciplines become automatic, we need to execute a few algorithms of our own, like:
1. See that it makes sense - Simply stated, the first step to incorporating any kind of change, it must make sense in the mind of the one needing the change.
2. Create a plan together – Adequately discuss your options and determine a time in your weekly schedule that will cultivate success. Begin with 3-4 days each week, setting aside a minimum of 30 minutes without interruptions.
3. Make your time a priority and commit – We all know unintended circumstances often force changes to our schedules. Even so, habits are not formed without consistency. Extend grace to each other when unintended circumstances occur, but don’t let unintended circumstances become intended. Right??
4. Both of you participate – Take turns both reading and praying. Avoid judging or being overly critical of one another. Remember, this is new to at least one, if not both of you.
5. Use devotionals or short Bible studies as guides – Consult other married couples you believe could provide good advice, or simply consider searching online for the most recommended Christian couple devotionals.
6. Take time to record what you experience – The more consistent and committed you are, the more you will learn about yourself, each other and about God. Remember, all of this is His design, so you can be assured that you will learn and be blessed for your efforts. Writing down those experiences helps to overcome the difficult days when they come.
Almost every couple in crisis I have counseled over the years is not praying or reading the Bible together. Contrast that with what we just learned research has proven to be true about Christian couples who do. Which category describes you and your spouse? I can only imagine the impact that married Christians can have for Christ in our world today, let alone experience the joy and happiness God intends if only spouses would seek Him together more often. So, what do you say? Let’s all work to make these new disciplines a very automatic part of our schedule!