As you’re reading, January 1st may be nothing but a distant memory. More than likely, so, too, are all those New Year’s resolutions we’ve made. That usually happens because people rely on willpower, and willpower rarely works.
The concept of willpower is easier to grasp when you understand its scriptural basis. The Greek word for “will” in the Bible is often translated as “desire.” It’s the idea that we can achieve a goal when our true desires match our objective. That meaning is drawn from the very nature of God. As a perfect and sinless Being, the Lord is free of inner conflict, so whatever He wills comes to pass.
But we humans struggle greatly with inner conflict, don’t we? And that often places our desires in direct conflict with our goals. Take exercise as an example. We may wish to lose twenty pounds, but if what we truly desire is to eat ice cream every night, we’ll soon find our willpower breaking down with a spoon in one hand and a bowl of rocky road in the other. The reality is our wishes are never strong enough to overcome our true desires for very long.
The solution, then, is to ask God to help us understand the inner areas that hold captive our desires. So – back to the weight loss example for a moment – after examining our motivations, we may discover we eat junk food to pacify emotional pain that’s never healed. If that’s the case, then to the degree we find healing for that inner struggle and resolve it, the need to cover the pain will, likewise, go away.
So whether it’s weight loss, a better marriage, or letting go of that bad habit, are you relying on willpower to achieve your goals? If so, you may have to put in some work to get your true desires to align with your objectives. That will certainly include seeking God in prayer, and it may even require the listening ear of a friend or, if the hurt is deep enough, the guidance of a counselor. But if you stay on the journey, your willpower can be strengthened over time and work for, rather than against, you.
“And after going a little farther, He fell face down and prayed, saying, “My Father, if it is possible [that is, consistent with Your will], let this cup pass from Me; yet not as I will, but as You will.””
Matthew 26:39 AMP