If everyone read their Bibles and prayed half as much as they intended too, most of us would feel satisfied with our private devotional lives. But when we wake up we feel tired… and class doesn’t start till 9:30… so we hit snooze. For most of us the problem isn’t sincerity. We want to read and pray, but when the time comes our sincerity evaporates.
The apostle Paul experienced this frustration. He wrote, “I know that nothing good dwells in … my flesh. For I have the desire to do what is right, but not the ability to carry it out,” (Rom. 7:18). Paul realized that our problem is the weakness of our good desires compared to our evil desires.
A war wages in our hearts. We like to think it’s only happening during big decisions or enormous temptations, but our inner-war never ceases. Gal. 5:17 says, “the desires of the flesh are against the Spirit, and the desires of the Spirit are against the flesh, for these are opposed to each other, to keep you from doing the things you want to do.” Our flesh wars against every good spiritual desire that guides us to worship God. After continual failure it seems like the enemy is winning, and our hope for victory is disintegrating.
So what can we do? First, we must be watchful soldiers. A castle under siege cannot hope for victory if it ignores its enemy by carelessly opening the gates every morning . When you struggle to pray and read your bible, do not carelessly ignore the flesh. No, he is there, ready to take advantage of any open gates. You’re not tired, you’re deceived.
Second, be a disciplined soldier. Paul says, “make no provision for the flesh, to gratify its desires” (Rom 13:14). If you struggle to wake up because you’re tired, then go to bed earlier. The flesh is a tricky enemy. He will give you a million reasons to stay up late, not so that you will sin in that moment, but so that you will reject the Spirit’s offer to come before God in the morning. Discipline yourself to not give the flesh opportunity to defeat you.
Third, be a hopeful soldier. We are on the winning team; the flesh is already defeated. Paul writes, “hope does not put us to shame, because God’s love has been poured into our hearts through the Holy Spirit”. Our hope for final victory cannot be put to shame, because we are full of God’s love and the power of the Spirit. The same power that resurrected Christ is at work to destroy the evil within you. Take faith, trust in His power and love.