As I’ve interacted with people over the years when they are struggling with obedience, I’ve frequently encouraged them to pray, “Lord, make me willing to be made willing…” with however many “willing to be made willing” ‘s as it takes! I know I’ve had to pray that myself many times with many “willing to be made willing” ‘s.

I’m reading Joanna Weaver’s book Having a Mary Spirit and she writes on page 97, “It is one thing to want God’s will and quite another to do it. As we’ve seen, the human heart has a huge capacity for self-deception, and our flesh is contrary to His ways. So even when I’m nodding yes to Him, too often my actions are saying no.

“That’s why I keep returning to King David’s prayer in Psalm 51: ‘Create in me a clean heart, O God; and renew a right spirit within me’ (verse 10, ASV). However, it is the last phrase of this prayer I’ve come to appreciate in a special way: ‘and grant me a willing spirit, to sustain me’ (verse 12, NIV).”

Psalm 51:10, 12 and Joanna’s comments confirm our prayer to “be made willing to be made willing.” Sometimes, it’s only such a plea that can change our hearts. It’s totally God’s inner workings within us that creates a change.

On the other hand, I’ve been meditating on Isaiah 16:16-17a, “wash and make yourselves clean. Take your evil deeds out of my sight! Stop doing wrong, learn to do right!” (NIV) The verbs in those two verses indicate it’s my choice–by choice! The Lord is saying, “do it!”

So, yes, we should beg for His mercy to make those heart changes and yes, at the same time, we’re supposed to decide to do it–and then do it! How does that paradox work? I’m still not completely sure. Maybe at different times? I’m not sure. Together? I’m not sure.

Maybe you have some ideas…

But in the meantime, I’ll keep praying and begging God to keep His promise to answer my “make me willing to be made willing…” and also by faith, obey!