"Keep watch and pray, so that you will not give in to temptation. For the spirit is willing, but the body is weak!"
- Matthew 26:41 NLT
Once when I was confessing my sins to the Lord and telling Him how powerless I felt to overcome my sinful behavior, I heard Him ask, “Can you pray?” I immediately felt convicted and knew in my heart what He was trying to tell me. The truth of the matter was that I was not completely helpless in my sinful state. God had provided me with a powerful weapon that I could make use of, no matter how inadequate I felt. And it was a simple thing called prayer. Jesus told His disciples, “Watch and pray so that you will not fall into temptation. The spirit is willing, but the body is weak.” (Matthew 26:41 NIV) In fact, in numerous places throughout the Gospels, Jesus instructs us to use prayer as a means of overcoming temptation. He even specifically teaches us to pray, “Don’t let us yield to temptation, but rescue us from the evil one.” (Matthew 6:13 NIV)
I know what it's like to struggle with temptation and sin, sometimes for years. Often we feel like we're out of control, and we can see no way out of our situation. But I also know what it's like to experience God's supernatural power to heal and deliver. One important part of our ultimate deliverance is confession and repentance. Each time we confess our sin to the Lord, we are agreeing with Him that we have violated His righteous laws, and we are admitting that we need His help to turn away from our sinful behavior. As we repent for our wrongdoing, we are choosing God and His will for us, and as a result, we position ourselves to receive supernatural power to enable us to turn away from our sin. This is exactly why condemnation is such a favorite tool of Satan's. He knows that if he can heap condemnation upon us when we do wrong, he has a good chance of keeping us from going to God for forgiveness and restoration. The psalmist wrote: “If I had not confessed the sin in my heart, the Lord would not have listened. But God did listen! He paid attention to my prayer.” (Psalm 66:18-19 NLT) While it's true that our sin can hinder our fellowship with the Lord, it's also true that a sincere sorrow for our sins can restore it.
The Bible is filled with Holy Spirit inspired prayers we can pray for our deliverance. One of my personal favorites is Psalm 143:10 (NIV): “Teach me to do Your will, for You are my God; may Your good Spirit lead me on level ground.” Another one is Psalm 51:10,12 (TLB): “Create in me a new, clean heart, O God, filled with clean thoughts and right desires. Restore to me again the joy of Your salvation, and make me willing to obey You.” Praying Scripture-based pleas like these can fill us with a fresh sense of hope. Making positive confessions of faith can also be very helpful. The apostle Paul declared, “I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me.” (Philippians 4:13 NKJV) When I'm feeling defeated and I confess this Scripture, it reaches down into my soul and lifts me up.
Most of all, we must remember that we are never alone in our struggles against sin. Hebrews 2:18 (AMP) says of Jesus: “Because He Himself [in His humanity] has suffered in being tempted (tested and tried), He is able [immediately] to run to the cry of (assist, relieve) those who are being tempted and tested and tried [and who therefore are being exposed to suffering].” If we will turn to the Lord in our struggles, if we will depend on His strength rather than our own, and if we will BELIEVE that He is willing and able to help and change us, our ultimate victory is assured. Never give up! The devil is a powerful enemy, but your prayers for deliverance have even greater power. Keep praying and believing, and the day will surely come when you will experience for yourself the blessed freedom that only Christ can give!
Prayer: Lord, I know that though You don't ever expect me to be perfect, You do expect me to always be “pressing toward the mark”. (Philippians 3:14 KJV) When I'm feeling overwhelmed because of my sinfulness, remind me that because I have put my trust in Christ, my prayers have “great power and wonderful results.” (James 5:16 NLT) Thank You that You've begun a good work in me, and You will continue it until Jesus returns! (Philippians 1:6)
- J. M. Farro