The New York Times Magazine recently ran an article about “Decision Fatigue”: Research shows that the more decisions we make in a day, the less self-control we have. Our brains get tired of making choices.
That’s why it’s easiest to blow a diet with a late-night dessert, and why we make impulse purchases at the checkout counter.
The good news is that there are things we can do to replenish our willpower. Studies show that the people who are most successful at self-control are the ones who reserve willpower for the really important things. They structure their lives so that they take breaks after they’ve made a series of decisions, eat a healthy diet and build in habits that reduce the number of choices they have to make.
What does this mean for the devotional life? It means there’s science to back up some age-old recommendations:
- Schedule your biggest prayer time early in the day, when you’ve most likely to follow through.
- Build devotions into your daily routine: Pray before meals, in the car, when you climb into bed.
- Find a supportive faith community, so you don’t have to rely on willpower alone to do the right thing.
- Team up with a prayer partner and commit to a regular time to pray; having it on your schedule makes it more likely to happen.
- Set house rules that encourage quiet time and devotion: Turn off the computer or TV during certain hours, so it’s easy to opt for Bible study over Facebook.
We’ve already made the big decision to follow Christ; growing in faith depends, in part, on choosing to structure our lives so that devotion to Him is a given, not a choice.
For more devotional tips, visit Julia Attaway’s blog Seeds of Devotion.