On the first Monday of every month my spirit and my flesh war in a way that makes Clash of the Titans look like a kiddie show. Lest I misrepresent myself, I confess that my flesh and spirit skirmish every day, but the big fight usually happens on this day.
The opening salvo sounds something like this:
Today’s the first Monday of the month, the day you’ve set aside to fast and pray for your kids.
WHAT?! It can’t be time already. I just did that.
Nope, it’s the first Monday.
But there’s that big bowl of fresh fruit in the fridge I planned to eat for breakfast. . .
It’ll be there tomorrow. Praying for your kids is more important.
But I’m on a writing deadline, and I usually get a headache when I fast. It’s hard to write with a headache.
You’ll be fine. You’ve worked with a headache before. Your kids need your prayers more than you need a headache-free day.
Maybe tomorrow would be better. Or next Monday. I don’t think I’m as busy then.
No, you committed to today. If you put it off, you’ll never do it. Don’t be a wimp.
It’s the classic battle Paul lamented about in Romans 7—wanting to do good, but struggling to actually do it. Our spirit desires to do the things that please God, but our flesh is more concerned with our physical comfort. I struggle to fast and pray every month because I don’t like discomfort and deprivation.
This is why Hebrews 12:11 means so much to me, especially on the first Monday of every month:
“No discipline seems pleasant at the time, but painful. Later on, however, it produces a harvest of righteousness and peace for those who have been trained by it.”
Fasting is painful. So are other spiritual disciplines like sacrificial giving, witnessing, and serving. I’ve discovered, however, that temporarily denying my flesh always produces a harvest of spiritual blessings—in my life and in the lives of those around me.
I’ve seen God answer my prayers for my children in miraculous ways. I’ve seen him protect and preserve them through intensely difficult seasons. I’ve seen him provide for their needs in ways I never could have imagined. I’ve seen him draw them to himself and grow and mature them in their faith. I’ve seen him give them wisdom, courage, and faith.
Now that they’re adults, I no longer have the opportunity to influence them daily while they live under my roof. But I can influence them through the power of God as I pray for their health, purity, spiritual growth, wisdom, and holiness.
Do I want this and much more for them now and in the years to come? Absolutely.
Way more than I want “productive,” headache-free, fruit salad-filled days.
I want to reap that harvest of righteousness and faith the unknown writer of Hebrews promises.
What about you? With which spiritual discipline do you struggle? I challenge you to step out in faith, deny your flesh, and, as Nike says, JUST DO IT.
I’m confident you’ll never regret it.