We are starting daniel fast from today. A lot more people decided to join this time compared to last year. Last week I wrote in my pastor blog that it is difficult to stop a behavior but it is much easier to replace it with a different one.
If you think about it, new habits rarely get formed by stopping our old habit first. It usually happens by introducing a new pattern of behaviors, which takes over the old eventually. After receiving Christ at the age of 12, my habit of doing QT in the morning started when I told myself, “No QT, No Breakfast”. To my hunger in the morning (trigger), I used to head straight to the dining table but I decided to sit at my desk and open the Bible. Once it was repeated, I began to love the “new reward”, feeling closer to God and more clarity on life issues and it eventually outweighed the old reward of “feeling full.”
The point is, it gets much easier to swap our old behavior with a new one when we are “aware” of the pattern we are used to. Our pattern is strongly associated with so-called “Reward circuitry”. And our strongest reward circuitry involves “appetite”. In this circuitry, when we feel hungry (trigger), we “eat”(response), then we feel “satisfied” (reward).
During Daniel fast what we want to focus is forming a different circuitry. Of course, we still need to eat for our survival. But during the fast, this is what will happen: when we feel hungry (trigger), we go to our designated place to pray and read God’s Word (NEW response), then we feel “satisfied” in our spirit and feel more intimate with God. (NEW reward).
We don’t have control over trigger but we can carve out a different path by choosing different behavior. It is easier when you really want the new reward, which is the intimacy with God. This is often how new spiritual discipline gets formed.
This is also how someone gets into working out. The trigger is the same (tiredness) but by working out (NEW behavior) instead of watching TV or sit in front of a computer screen (OLD behavior), you feel you are much more alive with greater energy than before (NEW reward). Having a group of people who wants the same new reward helps greatly to continue on with new behavior. During this lent, I hope we all will be able to start a brand new habit that leads us to brand new reward of gaining greater clarity of who we are and getting closer to God who loves us.