I developed a certain habit in high school. It was when I first got hired at Lee's Restaurant to play the piano during lunch on Sundays. I was so nervous my first day of work and I only had about 12 songs in my repertoire at that time. I was 17 and had zero experience performing in public. So before I played my first song that day, I sat at the bench and silently prayed. First I thanked God that I was able to play piano in the first place. Then I thanked Him for this job and prayed that I would never take it for granted. And finally, I asked that I would be able to play well that day for all who listened. I played piano at Lee's 3 days a week for nearly 5 years and continued that habit the entire time. To this day, it's something I always do when I play. It helps to calm my nerves and reminds me that it's not because of my own ability that I'm able to play music, but only because God allows me to. And I do believe that the gifts we take fore granted can be taken away.
As far as habits go though, sometimes we do them absentmindedly. The other day at work, on my "long day" of playing for ballet rehearsals, I was reminded of this. I start early in the morning with the little beginners. They're so much fun to play for and watch. And it's not difficult at all to provide music for these delightful new dancers. But around noon, the classes gradually become more difficult. The instructor is more focused, moves quicker through combinations, and expects a higher level of music to be played in order for the dancers to get the most out of their rehearsal. The music should be precise, expressive, and classic. I've done more sight reading in these last few months than I have my entire life. And I play for these classes into the late afternoon.
The other day, when the "fun" classes ended and the little girls skipped out of the studio back to their parents, I felt myself grow slightly anxious in anticipation of my afternoon. And so I relied on an old habit of prayer. Suddenly I wondered, why should I pray now instead at the beginning of the day? Isn't playing piano for the beginners just as important as for the advanced? Am I too good to ask for help when I play for the easy class? Shouldn't I be just as thankful to play for them? Then I realized, I must have another habit. To pray only when I feel I want help.
I think it must be a common human reaction to pray mainly when we want something. And I think it's why developing a habit of prayer is so important. If you talk to God every day, then you have a relationship with Him, rather than having a "genie" you can ask favors from. I would imagine that if I only spoke to Eddie when I wanted him to clean the kitchen or fix the car, he would feel taken advantage of. But we have a relationship and so when I ask him for something, he wants to help me. I think it's similar when talking to God.
So unlike my bad habits of teeth grinding and ice cream binging, I will make more of an effort to talk daily to God. And maybe when He sees this habit, He'll cure me of the the bad ones!
"Pray without ceasing."—1 Thessalonians 5:17
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