How does spiritual transformation actually happen? Not just by engaging the will.
From The Good and Beautiful God by James Bryant Smith:
“ . . . the will actually has no power. The will is the human capacity to choose. Should I wear a red shirt or a blue one? we ask ourselves. Ultimately we choose the blue one, and our will is the hinge on which the decision is made. But the will does not actually do anything. If I could look inside you to find your will, I would never find it. It is not next to your gallbladder! It is not an organ or a muscle that can grow or atrophy.
The will is more like a beast of burden that simply responds to the impulses of others. A horse does not choose where to go, but goes in whatever direction the rider tells it to go. The will works like that. Instead of one rider, it has several. The three primary influencers on the will are the mind, the body and the social context. First, what we think in our minds will in turn create emotions, which leads to decisions or actions. Second, the body is a complex inner working of impulses that influence the will. Most of our bodily system runs without our help, but when the body has a need (food, water) it expresses itself to the mind through feelings (hunger, thirst) and alerts the mind to send a message to the will: Get food now. Finally, the will us also influenced by our social context. We are highly influenced by the people around us. We call this "peer pressure".
The will is neither strong nor weak. Like a horse, it has only one task: to do what the rider (the mind, influenced by the body and the social realm) tells it to do. Therefore, change – or lack thereof – is not an issue of the will at all. Change happens when these other influencers are modified. The good news is that we have control over those other influencers. When new ideas new practices and new social settings are adopted, change happens.”