May 28, 2020 | Prayer Guides by Various Authors
Walking In The Spirit
DAY 21 – Fruit of the Spirit: Introduction
Galatians 5:22–24 “But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, longsuffering, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control. Against such there is no law. And those who are Christ’s have crucified the flesh with its passions and desires.”
The imagery of fruit in Scripture is frequently used to illustrate cause and effect relationships. In Galatians 5, the fruit, or result, of the indwelling Holy Spirit through faith in Christ should be as obvious as apples on an apple tree. But unlike apple trees, we are all sinners, and the fruit we produce is not always what God desires in our lives.
There is a battle of “flesh vs. Spirit” inside of us. Paul acknowledges this in Galatians 5:17, “For the flesh lusts against the Spirit, and the Spirit against the flesh; and these are contrary to one another, so that you do not do the things that you wish.” He even goes on to spell out some of the fleshly fruit in verses 19–21. Take a moment to contrast these to the Spiritual fruit in verses 22–24. Now take a moment to press your life up against these Scriptures.
The Bible teaches that a tree is known by its fruit (Luke 6:44). Through the next nine days we will examine each of the nine attributes of the fruit of the Spirit, giving biblical definitions and helpful prayer prompts. Our prayer for you is that the fruit in your life would bring glory to God as we follow His mission together.
Questions to Consider: Have I truly “crucified the flesh with its passions and desires” through Christ? Are there specific attributes in verses 22–23 that I struggle with and may need help?
- Confess to God and repent of “the lust of the flesh.”
- Pray that God would grant wisdom and discernment as you seek to follow His Spirit and will.
Luke 6:44, “For every tree is known by its own fruit. For men do not gather figs from thorns, nor do they gather grapes from a bramble bush.”
DAY 22 – Fruit of the Spirit: Love
Ephesians 5:1–2 “Therefore, be imitators of God as dear children. And walk in love, as Christ also has loved us and given Himself for us, an offering and a sacrifice to God for a sweet-smelling aroma.”
Our culture defines and expresses love in many ways. We can love our spouse romantically, our family and friends brotherly, and even our sports teams passionately. More often than not love is self-serving, based on what we get out of these relationships rather than what we put in. However, this idea is turned upside down and inside out when we understand how God defines love in His Word.
Love is sacrifice. Christ demonstrated this truth by making the ultimate sacrifice to save us from sin and death. In the above Scripture, Paul implores us to imitate God and walk in love as Christ did. God put us first, sending Jesus as our sacrifice. Jesus took on flesh, putting aside His place in heaven to save sinful humanity. T
o walk in God’s love requires sacrifice. Offering our time, talent, and treasures to Him for the benefit of others is counterintuitive to our culture and our fleshly nature. The Holy Spirit living in us gives us the ability to love others sacrificially, submitting our will to God. There is good reason that love is the first fruit of the Spirit mentioned: God’s love manifested to us through Christ gives us the ability to truly love one another, binding the other eight attributes tightly together.
Questions to Consider: Have I trusted in Jesus Christ as my Savior from sin and death? Do I love others selfishly or sacrificially?
- Praise God for demonstrating His love for us through Christ.
- Pray to love sacrificially, seeking to forgive and serve others.
Romans 5:8, “But God demonstrates His own love toward us, in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us.”
DAY 23 – Fruit of the Spirit: Joy
Romans 15:13 “Now may the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace in believing, that you may abound in hope by the power of the Holy Spirit.”
We’ve all probably heard the saying, “Do what makes you happy.” It sounds good and appeals to our fleshy desire to feel good. Most of us have also figured out that happiness is fleeting, and the chase for it never-ending. So how can we have joy in our lives if we cannot maintain happiness? We can because happiness is not how Scripture defines joy.
Joy is hope. The hope of fulfilled promises, the hope of forgiveness, the hope of eternity. Happiness is determined by our feelings; joy is determined by our faith. Happiness is guided by outside influences (people, circumstances, etc.); joy is guided by the indwelling Spirit. Happiness is fickle and temporal; joy is constant and eternal. The hope that is in us through faith in Christ allows us to focus on the heavenly end of the journey rather than on the bumpy earthly road we travel.
We are all promised trials in this life. The trials could be spiritual, medical, financial, relational, or something else. We usually don’t get to choose the trials. We do, however, get to choose our response. Through the power of the Holy Spirit in us, we can choose joy.
Questions to Consider: Are there things in my life that give me temporary happiness, but no lasting joy? How can I have hope in the midst of trials?
- Confess to God and repent of any “happiness idols” in your life.
- Pray that God would remind you of His promises during times of trial.
- Pray for His joy to guide and sustain you.
1 Peter 4:13 “But rejoice to the extent that you partake of Christ’s sufferings, that when His glory is revealed, you may also be glad with exceeding joy.”
DAY 24 – Fruit of the Spirit: Peace
Colossians 1:20 “. . . and by Him to reconcile all things to Himself, by Him, whether things on earth or things in heaven, having made peace through the blood of His cross.”
During an Internet search on the word “peace,” the first two definitions that came up were “tranquility” and “a period in which there is no war.” These are both common definitions of peace in our culture that are also uncommon to achieve. Tranquility is relative and can be easily put out of balance by simple things like noise, weather, or illness. Wars and rumors of wars are promised by Scripture to continue (Matthew 24:6). It’s easy to conclude that true peace is not defined by these definitions. God’s Word defines peace in a very different way.
Peace is reconciliation. Peace in a right relationship with God is only possible through faith in Jesus Christ. Our sin separates us from God, breaking our relationship with Him in a seemingly irreparable way. We cannot fix what we have broken, causing turmoil within us. Jesus “made peace through the blood of His cross.” He reconciled us to God, repairing our broken relationship.
None of us are promised tranquility or an absence of conflict in our lives. Peace cannot truly be reached if measured in these ways. However, we can experience true peace through the reconciliation offered by Christ’s sacrifice on the cross. This is the peace that surpasses all understanding.
Questions to Consider: Are there things in my life that take my focus away from the peace of God? Is there unconfessed sin in my life that is hindering peace with God?
- Confess to God and repent of any unconfessed sin.
- Pray for rest in the peace of your reconciliation through Christ.
- Pray for your relationships with people who need reconciliation.
Philippians 4:6–7 “Be anxious for nothing, but in everything by prayer and supplication, with thanksgiving, let your requests be made known to God; and the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and minds through Christ Jesus.”
DAY 25 – Fruit of the Spirit: Longsuffering
James 1:2–3 “My brethren, count it all joy when you fall into various trials, knowing that the testing of your faith produces patience.”
This season of COVID-19 and “shelter at home” may be straining your patience. We don’t know how much longer until things get back to normal, or even what that “normal” will look like. We watch and wait, and then wait some more. Some are truly suffering in this season, whether physically, financially, emotionally, or other ways. We can become edgy and even down right irritable when patience runs low. We must strive to see things God’s way when it comes to longsuffering.
Longsuffering is endurance. It is keeping our eyes fixed on God and His promises while going through seasons of life. It is learning and growing from trials, processing things in the Spirit through His Word. It is relying completely on God. It is not merely putting up with the bad to get to the good; it is putting both the bad and the good before the Lord for His glory. It is not just limping through a race that never ends, but rather finishing the race in the victory already secured by Jesus.
This attribute of the fruit of the Spirit is often cited as the hardest one to keep and demonstrate consistently. Much of this may be due to our impatient fleshly desires pushing against the inexhaustible longsuffering of the Holy Spirit. Through the power of the Holy Spirit we can genuinely endure. If you feel discouraged, remember all Christ endured for you.
Questions to Consider: Are there things in my life that cause me to become impatient? What is God teaching me through this season?
- Pray for endurance in this season.
- Pray for wisdom to grow through trials.
Hebrews 12:1 “Therefore we also, since we are surrounded by so great a cloud of witnesses, let us lay aside every weight, and the sin which so easily ensnares us, and let us run with endurance the race that is set before us.”
DAY 26 – Fruit of the Spirit: Kindness
Philippians 2:3–4 “Let nothing be done through selfish ambition or conceit, but in lowliness of mind let each esteem others better than himself. Let each of you look out not only for his own interests, but also for the interests of others.”
Sometimes the English language fails to capture the complete essence of Greek words in the Bible. The Greek word chrestotes (khray-stot’-ace), translated as “kindness” in Galatians 5:22, is a prime example. When we think of kindness, we may think of being nice, friendly, considerate, or generous. But this Greek word also includes the idea of usefulness, serviceability, and meeting needs. There is no one English word that encompasses all of these ideas.
Kindness is beneficial. It helps meet the need of others in very practical ways. It is active, not passive. It is continuous, not selective. It is for the benefit of others, not for ourselves. Think of our Food Pantry Ministry as an example: the physical and spiritual needs of others are intentionally and actively met. Our kindness is the practical manifestation and application of the love Christ lavished upon us through His death and resurrection.
Through the power of the Holy Spirit we can put God first and others before ourselves. As we grow closer to God through discipleship, we can demonstrate kindness in our witness, our ministry, and our generosity. None of us need to selfishly look out for ourselves when we all look out for each other.
Questions to Consider: How can I show God’s kindness to others? Do I genuinely esteem others greater than myself? Are there things I do out of selfish ambition?
- Pray to esteem others greater than yourself in word and deed.
- Pray for practical ways to demonstrate God’s kindness to others.
Psalm 116:12–13 “What shall I render to the Lord, For all His benefits toward me? I will take up the cup of salvation, And call upon the name of the Lord.”
DAY 27 – Fruit of the Spirit: Goodness
Ephesians 2:10 “For we are His workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand that we should walk in them.”
The concept of goodness, or being good, is one most of us have heard since childhood. We’ve been told to be nice, follow the rules, mind your manners, and so forth. We could do these things even if we didn’t want to or didn’t believe they were important. We merely had to appear good to be seen as good. This is because these require our behavior, not our hearts. However, goodness in Galatians 5:22 shows that it’s all about who we are, not what we do.
Goodness is authenticity. It is being exactly who you appear to be. It is not just living, thinking, or acting LIKE a Christian; it is living, thinking, and acting AS a Christian. Authenticity is not turned on and off depending upon situations and surroundings. True goodness flows from the Holy Spirit within us. The good works and good behavior are the fruit that naturally grow from a genuine faith. They are the effect, not the cause of faith.
Being authentic can be challenging as we all have fleshly desires and actions, past and present, that cause shame. Our sinful nature urges us to build walls around ourselves, lest anyone should see who we really are. Living as Christians, genuinely loving God and others, tears down these walls. We then quickly see that we are all quite the same: sinners saved by God’s grace on mission for His glory.
Questions to Consider: Am I living like a Christian, or as a Christian? What part do my “good works” play in my faith? Are there things in my life that hinder my authenticity?
- Pray for the Holy Spirit to help you live authentically as a Christian.
- Pray for wisdom and guidance regarding your “good works.”
2 Corinthians 5:17 “Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation; old things have passed away; behold, all things have become new.”
DAY 28 – Fruit of the Spirit: Faithfulness
1 Corinthians 15:58 “Therefore, my beloved brethren, be steadfast, immovable, always abounding in the work of the Lord, knowing that your labor is not in vain in the Lord.”
Let’s say you are taking a train from Raleigh to Chicago. You’ve got your ticket, itinerary, luggage, and are ready to go. You sit back, relax and enjoy the ride all the way to Union Station. You trust that the train will get you to Chicago. Why? Because the tracks are set and the train just has to follow their path. You trust that you will get to Chicago because the train will get to Chicago. That is the idea behind faithfulness as a fruit of the Spirit.
Faithfulness is trust. Trust in God rather than in ourselves. God laid the “train tracks” for us, and we must trust Him as we travel in His direction. When we trust in His Son, His Word, and His promises we are then able to be trustworthy to others. There is integrity, or wholeness, that comes only from God. Walking in this integrity strengthens us to be people others can rely on, pointing them toward Christ.
Faithfulness can also be described as “God’s warranty.” It is the promises of Who He is, what He has done and will do, and how much He loves. Trusting and walking fully in these promises always puts us on the right track.
Questions to Consider: Am I trusting in God or in myself and other things? Can others trust me? Does my life point others to Christ?
- Pray for the Holy Spirit to help you fully trust God, repenting of trust in other things.
- Pray that your life would point others toward Christ.
Ephesians 1:13–14 “In Him you also trusted, after you heard the word of truth, the gospel of your salvation; in whom also, having believed, you were sealed with the Holy Spirit of promise, who is the guarantee of our inheritance until the redemption of the purchased possession, to the praise of His glory.”
DAY 29 – Fruit of the Spirit: Gentleness
James 1:19–20 “So then, my beloved brethren, let every man be swift to hear, slow to speak, slow to wrath; for the wrath of man does not produce the righteousness of God.”
It’s game 7 of the World Series, and the home team is down 4–3 in the bottom of the ninth. With one out and runners on first and second, the power hitting catcher steps into the batter’s box. He’s thinking one thing: 3-run homer to win the Series! However, the third base coach is giving him the sign to bunt rather than swing away. He angrily accepts the sign and stabs roughly at the first pitch. Strike one. He calms down, remembers that his coaches have got the team this far, and squares away to bunt. He lays it perfectly down the third base line, sacrificing the out at first to move the runners to second and third. The next batter hits a two-run single, and the home team wins the championship in part because the catcher held back and trusted his coaches. He showed gentleness.
Gentleness is submission. It is the idea of strength under control, specifically God’s control. It is walking in humility before God and others. The catcher in our illustration could have done things his way rather than submit to his coaches. Each of us must decide every minute whether to submit to God or do things our way. It’s either the fruit of the Spirit or the lust of the flesh. There is tremendous power when we lay aside our own strength.
Questions to Consider: Am I submitting my will to God? How do I demonstrate gentleness in my life?
- Pray to be swift to hear, slow to speak, slow to wrath.
- Ask the Spirit to identify anything I am not submitting to God.
1 Peter 3:15 “But sanctify the Lord God in your hearts, and always be ready to give a defense to everyone who asks you a reason for the hope that is in you, with meekness and fear.”
DAY 30 – Fruit of the Spirit: Self-Control
Galatians 5:25 “If we live in the Spirit, let us also walk in the Spirit.”
It is quite significant that the fruit of the Spirit starts out with love. Think of the rest flowing out of Christ’s sacrificial love for us. Without that love in our lives it would be impossible for us to have joy, peace, longsuffering, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, and gentleness. It is also very significant that these attributes end with self-control. Think of self-control as the fruit basket, holding the others together and carrying them forward.
Self-control is accountability. The Greek word egkrateia (eng-krat’-i-ah) in Galatians 5:23 translated as “self-control” also speaks to the idea of “true mastery from within.” It proceeds from within oneself, but not by oneself. It comes from the Spirit living in us through faith in Christ. We are given the ability to consistently choose Spirit over flesh. The bad news is that none of us can or will be perfect. The good news is we don’t have to be: Jesus is already perfect in our place.
This is also most beneficial in our relationships with others. When we are accountable to God in all things, we can in turn be accountable to one another. Accountability is essential to Christian discipleship. It must be present for honest, life-changing discipleship to occur. Self-control is the outward manifestation of every attribute of the fruit of the Spirit. Let us walk together in the Spirit.
Questions to Consider: Am I walking in the Spirit, or in the flesh? Am I accountable to God? Am I accountable to others?
- Pray for the Holy Spirit to help me truly walk with the Lord.
- Pray for accountability toward God and people. Praise God for demonstrating His love through Jesus.
Romans 14:12 “So then each of us shall give account of himself to God.”