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Habits Always Frame Our Day

By: Tom Grosh IV, DMin

September 11, 2019

“Our lives are something like a jasmine plant, and our days and weeks are something like the trellis. At best, we’re made to grow upward, blossom beautifully and fill the earth will all the rich fragrance of God’s uncountable glories. Yet we are fallen. We are twisted. But that doesn’t mean we don’t grow; it means we grow sideways in ways we weren’t meant to, often twisting into something that kills and hurts those around us…


Building the trellis of habit is a way to acknowledge the good ways God designed us as well as the ways the fall has broken us…This begins with framing our days in love, and that begins with the words of prayer.”—Justin Whitmel Earley, The Common Rule: Creating Habits of Purpose for an Age of Distraction.



Habits to resist busyness and the demands of technology (cultural, familial and workplace) motivated people to engage the class I am teaching on Justin Whitmel Earley’s The Common Rule. As in Our Habits Form Us, I challenged the participants to


  • Find an accountability partner, i.e., if one is lacking.
  • Consider whether one agrees or disagrees that true freedom is not the absence of any limitations, but instead the presence of the right limitations.
  • Explore how one resonates with the author’s story.
  • Observe and reflect upon one’s habits and write down a previously unnoticed habit.


If you have not already done such, I encourage you to establish these building blocks. Then take six minutes and 29 seconds to hear Justin cast a vision for Kneeling Prayer.





  • How often and in what manner do you pray?
  • What kind of habits—for better or worse—are framing your day?




Justin’s insights regarding the first words of the day inspire me to give Kneeling Prayer Three Times a Day a try.


“While I’ve been practicing some version of morning prayers my whole life, they radically changed when I got a smartphone. My smartphone exacerbates my tendency toward self-centered or legalistic morning prayers. Why? Because, of course, my phone is the portal through which the chaos of the world reaches my half-asleep heart through the pesky thing we call ‘notifications.’ This inevitably begins my day with all that I need to do and all that I’ve failed to do.


Our phones—and their programmers—are happy to set our habits for us. They would love to speak the first words of the day, and they usually do. Our phones—and whatever has come through them—thus shape the first desires of the morning and order our first prayers for us.”


Next Steps


Join me in the trial and error of


  • Shaping first desires,
  • Maintaining proper desires mid-day, and
  • Finishing well.


I appreciate the author’s recommendations to:


  • Write out some short prayers.
  • Set reminders at morning, noon and night for kneeling prayer.
  • Practice the habit of kneeling prayer.


To begin the journey, below are prayers provided by Justin. When opportunity presents itself, find a roommate (or your spouse if married) to pray with in the morning and at bedtime, as well as a colleague to pray with at midday.


  • Morning: Spirit, I was made for your presence. May this day be one I spend with you in all that I do. Amen.
  • Midday: Jesus, I was made to join your work in the world. Please order the rest of my day in love for the people you have given me to serve. Amen.
  • Bedtime: Father, I was made to rest in your love. May my body rest in sleep, and may my mind rest in your love. Amen.

About Tom Grosh IV, DMin

Through a decade of interactions with current and future healthcare professionals as a CMDA affiliate staff at the Penn State College of Medicine's Christian Medical Society (CMS) / CMDA, the Lord ignited in Tom Grosh IV a passion to devote his next season of ministry to transforming lives with the Gospel through healthcare. Tom brings to CMDA in South Central PA over 20 years of experience with InterVarsity Christian Fellowship / USA. Most recently he served as the Associate Director of the Emerging Scholars Network (2012-2018). His responsibilities included conferencing, digital ministries, fund development, networking, and resource development. Tom has completed a B.S. in Biology (Grove City College), a M.A. in Higher Education (Geneva College), a M.A.R. in Spiritual Formation (Evangelical Seminary), and a Certificate in Spiritual Direction (Evangelical Seminary), and a Doctor of Ministry in Ministry to Emerging Generations (Gordon-Conwell Theological Seminary). He is licensed in the Brethren in Christ Church, U.S. Tom and his wife Theresa grew up in Lancaster County, PA. They met while attending Donegal High School. Currently, Tom and Theresa are active members of Elizabethtown Brethren in Christ, where they serve in a number of ministry capacities. The Lord has blessed them with four children: Hayley, Ellen, Eden, and Lily.

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