“A PERSON WITHOUT SELF-CONTROL IS LIKE A CITY WITH BROKEN-DOWN WALLS.”
We are enough days into our prayer (and possible fast) that it might start to feel like it takes a little more work to stay the course. Perhaps it already has.
First, let us acknowledge that 5 days of praying and fasting is nothing to scoff at, so be encouraged. Also, know that with community and the help of God’s spirit empowering you, you can make it to day 21. There is always opposition when we make a choice of our will to pursue God and prayer, so we should expect it but not allow it to stop us from what we have decided in our hearts for this season.
One major area where opposition can come on strong is our self-control, our self-discipline. We might feel the temptation to give a little where we were determined to hold strong, and because God is gracious, we can always pick back up and keep going. Yet we see in all areas of life (which God graciously set up) that without self-control, we accomplish little. The above verse in Proverbs paints a picture of a city without walls, a metaphor which essentially means that when we lose our self-control, we have less defenses than we need, less boundaries, and less guards set up. Without these things, without the discipline in our lives to keep us in check, we are unintentionally open to attacks on our hearts, minds, and wills. We might end up in a place we didn’t mean to be, or, in other words, we might not end up where we did want to be. For this time of prayer and fasting, you might want to be closer to God or more aware of His voice by the end of it, but these things can’t just happen without the self-control it requires to show up consistently.
In so many ways, self-control is like a muscle. The more we work it, the stronger it gets. However, our greatest self-control comes as a gift of God’s Spirit (Galatians 5:22-23). For we can never muster all we need on our own. We eventually run out, but this is no mystery to God. He has more than enough in Himself for us to tap into. He is ready and willing, as we ask Him, to equip us with the self-control and self-discipline we need. So don’t be disheartened if it feels hard. In these moments, turn your prayers toward God and ask Him for help. He can change hearts and minds, and He can impart strength when we are weak. With Him, we can keep from allowing temptation or discouragement to stop us. We can set our eyes on Him and stay steady, and we can get back on track when we’ve veered off. The first week is almost under your belt, and God is working.
“God, I ask for an extra amount of self-control today to be produced inside of me by your Holy Spirit. I pray over the rest of these 21 days, that you would strengthen me to stay the course that I intended when we started. Help me have the self-discipline I need to trust you in this season when opposition comes.”