7. I have already mentioned that the way to grow stronger in self-control is through training so it will be like learning to play the piano. We learn a basic about playing the piano, and then we practice, and then we learn a little bit more and practice some more. That routine is kept up until we are a great piano player.
When we join the gym for the purpose of becoming a very strong person we are given “routines” and we do them systematically. If you practice them haphazardly, with no system, skipping them when you are tired or to busy you will remain a wimp.
In my weight lifting routine that I do in my man room I use a system called “Strong Lifts 5 X 5”. There are five different lifts, squat, bench press, overhead press, barbell row, and deadlift. Three times each week I do three of the five lifts.I do the squats every time I lift and alternate between two of the remaining four. For each of the three lifts I will do five sets of five and add 5 pounds the next time if I successfully lift the designated weight 25 times. This is my plan along with riding a stationary bike, running on a tread mill, and hitting a heavy bag to stay fit until I am 100 years old.
So in my gym for training to get strong in self-control I have five disciplines that I systematically apply to my life incrementally. The first is Bible reading, second is prayer, third is fasting, fourth is exercise, and the fifth is scripture memory. I keep track of these five disciplines very religiously, working very hard to stay on the routine and increasing them gradually, “a little bit more, just a little bit, but always more.”
Bible reading is the most important of all of the disciplines. I read 14 chapters each day, and have arrived at that number gradually as I have added a little bit more over the years. Most people will probably stay in the 3 to 5 chapter range. I read as much as I do because my job is to teach the Bible, and I want to teach it well.
I suggest to people that they have a prayer time that is five minutes long three days a week. Those who are most successful are careful to always have a time when they pray and a place where they pray. When you faithfully keep this routine for several months add another day and keep adding a day until you are praying five minutes every day. A key tool to make prayer much more effective, interesting, and meaningful is a prayer notebook or journal where you keep a list of people and things you are praying for with answers. Once you are super faithful at five minutes each and every day you can start adding time one minute at a time.
Intermittent fasting probably has more impact on my self-control level than any other discipline. So even though I hate it with a passion I continue to do it because it not only grows my self-control level, I also lose weight. My commitment now calls for a 24 hour fast twice each week.
The fourth discipline for me is an exercise routine which lasts at least an hour every day and as I have already mentioned includes riding a stationary bike, lifting weights, running on a treadmill, and punching a heavy bag. Working hard to not make excuses and keep the routine is very powerful in my life to grow my self-control.,
The last of the “mighty five” is memorizing Bible verses. It easy to systematize this discipline by starting out small and gradually increase the time that you work on this. This discipline not only grows your self-control level very effectively, it also changes your heart, increases your memory, and probably will keep you from becoming senile when you get to be 72 years old.
The most effective way to do this plan is to do it with another person or several and encourage each other, and pray for one another.