None of us likes to feel “out of control.” When we feel our needs are not being met, or we cannot control our circumstances, it is easy to worry. It is at these times that we tend to respond in ways that eventually lead us into trouble. For example:
1) We worry and continually dwell on our needs which leads to anxiety, lack of sleep, and other negative physical symptoms.
2) We rush ahead of God and make decisions that may not be God’s best for us.
3) We feel overwhelmed and thus give up, becoming apathetic or depressed.
4) We become controlling and demanding which wounds others and often these people will emotionally detach from us.
Some of us have a higher need to have “all our ducks in a row.” When a mother duck swims in the water, she has trained her ducklings to swim behind her in a neat, straight line. That way, when she looks behind her, she can quickly know if all her ducklings are still safe behind her. Many of us are like this mother duck. We want to arrange everything in our future in a nice row before we will move ahead. If we do not have everything worked out, we feel anxious and out of control. I will confess that I am struggling with this at the moment myself. I am tempted to run ahead and work out solutions for all my problems and needs, rather than pray and wait on God. But anytime I feel this way, I pray through Matthew 6:25-34. Jesus says: “Therefore I tell you, do not worry about your life.” He says that He has all our earthly needs covered. But He wants us to earnestly seek Him, His Kingdom, and His righteousness. If we do this, He promises to meet all our earthly needs. This not only includes our physical needs, but our emotional and relational needs as well. It may not happen in our way and our timing, but He knows what is best for us.
So how is praying for “self-control” different than trying to “take control” over our own life? The fruit of self-control is asking God to give us the power to be moderate in our behaviors and emotions rather than letting them take control of us. In doing this, rather than “taking control” in our own efforts to meet our needs and others’ needs, we are asking God’s Spirit to direct and control our behaviors, our emotions, and our environment.