God, who began the good work within you, will continue his work until it is finally finished on that day when Christ Jesus comes back again.
- Philippians 1:6 NLT
God is working in you, giving you the desire to obey him and the power to do what pleases him.
- Philippians 2:13 NLT
Recently, my son, Joseph, was getting married, and I had to shop for an outfit that would be fitting for a mother of the groom. As I tried on various outfits, I was convicted by the Spirit of God about my weight. It wasn't the first time, either. Because I didn't have a lot of weight to lose, I had tried to convince myself that it was okay. But I couldn't deny the conviction of God's Spirit. I hadn't been eating wisely for a long time, and I knew it. I just didn't know how to change my eating habits. After trying every practical and spiritual method of dealing with my diet, I finally gave up and put the matter in God's hands. I told the Lord that since every attempt of mine had failed, from then on, I would only pray about my eating, depending on Him to give me the desire and power to obey Him in this area. Then I asked Him to give me clear confirmation concerning whether or not this was, in fact, His way of helping me overcome my sinful behavior. As I stood in line to purchase a wedding outfit two weeks before the big day, a Holy Spirit-inspired determination rose up inside of me, and from that moment on, I instinctively began changing my eating habits for the better. In one week's time, I lost enough weight to go back to the store and purchase another outfit that was a whole size smaller than the first one. This second outfit was even more attractive than the first, and it was on sale for a fraction of the original cost. I believe that these blessings, as well as my continued success with eating wisely, all represent the confirmation I asked of the Lord.
This experience was awesomely liberating for me because it taught me that when I'm feeling hopelessly enslaved by some habitual sin, God has provided me with a way out that even I, in my weakest state, can perform. It's prayer. Once I put my faith in Christ and made Him my personal Savior, I inherited a wealth of "great and precious promises" from God, including Hebrews 4:16 AMP: "Let us then fearlessly and confidently and boldly draw near to the throne of grace (the throne of God's unmerited favor to us sinners), that we may receive mercy [for our failures] and find grace to help in good time for every need [appropriate help and well-timed help, coming just when we need it]." This is God's gracious invitation for us to call on Him in our time of need. While it's true that our sin can hinder our fellowship with God, it's also true that when we pray in line with His will, He will answer us. (1 John 5:14-15) One such prayer is in Psalm 51:10,12 TLB: "Create in me a new, clean heart, O God, filled with clean thoughts and right desires; make me willing to obey you." I like to pray Bible prayers like this one when I'm struggling, but sometimes, all I can pray is "Lord, please help me" or "Lord, please change me." And I believe these simple prayers can be just as powerful when prayed in earnest. The verses above from Philippians reveal that from the day of our salvation until the day of Christ's return, God will be working in us to make us more like Jesus. (Philippians 1:6) He will not only give us the POWER to obey Him, but He will even give us the DESIRE to do His will. (Philippians 2:13) So when I've tried everything to please God and I've failed, I can ask Him to change my heart and my desires so that I can succeed. As long as I don't lose hope and stop praying, my victory is assured, and it's just a matter of time. That's why Luke 18:1 TLB says that "One day Jesus told his disciples a story to illustrate their need for constant prayer and to show them that they must keep praying until the answer comes." He then tells the story of the persistent widow, illustrating the tremendous power of persistent prayer. Satan knows about this power, too. That's why he'll try to get you to quit praying by whispering lies in your ear, like "You're a hypocrite for saying that you want to change when you're still committing the same sin over and over." Or "God's not going to hear your prayer for help while you're living in sin." The truth is that if your faith is in Christ and it's your sincere desire to live for Him, He will move heaven and earth to help you do His will if you'll just PRAY!
Prayer: Lord, when I'm feeling trapped in some sin, seeing no way out, remind me that my prayers are a powerful weapon against the enemy. Create in me the power and desire to please You in every way. When I'm tempted to lose heart, strengthen me and lift me up. Thank You that You've begun a good work in me and You'll continue it until Jesus returns!
- J. M. Farro