We get so many questions from listeners who want to escape sinful addictions to lust and porn. We have so many listeners who want to be done with sinful anger. Many listeners who want to know the key to personal holiness. At the end of the day, we depend on God for all this. God must free us. Pastor John, in this episode, would you lead us in prayer, before God right now — on behalf of all of us — that everyone listening will have hearts filled with a satisfaction in God that is more powerful than the lure of sin?
I would love to, but before I pray, let me just say a word to orient the listeners, because I feel like they need a moment right here just to prepare themselves for this. If they are going to listen and say amen, they need to have a heart of a sense of expectation so they are not just listening to me pray like, “Oh, here is another podcast and a piece of information. What will he say?” But really pray with me.
Prayers Not in Vain
And I am thinking of people here — now this is what I understand you to mean — who are stuck in a same pattern of sin over and over with little movement. I really remember one man’s testimony of praying for freedom from pornography for years and then it came to an end stunningly. He said: “Why would God answer the thousandth prayer and not the second one or the 802nd one?” And he didn’t know the answer. And I don’t know the answer fully either except to say, perhaps the bowl of prayer in the presence of God was not full yet and, therefore, the outpouring that he intended by all those accumulated prayers was not yet complete.
“I want people to have hope and belief that this prayer and their prayers have not been in vain.”
There are mysteries in this. In other words, this prayer that I am about to pray might be the one thousandth prayer that fills the bowl — nothing unique about the prayer, it just happens to be the last one in the bowl. And then God pours it out on the people that are listening. That would be my heart’s desire.
But I want people to have hope and belief that this prayer and their prayers have not been in vain. None of them have been in vain, because this kind of intransigent sin makes us feel like God is not listening, prayer is invalid, maybe the whole thing is not real. Those are the horrible temptations that come with sin not going away. God answers prayers in two sorts of ways, one with dramatic overnight deliverances, and he answers prayers by putting series of events and influences in place which culminate in a change slowly or suddenly.
In fact, as I read the Bible, that latter process of sanctification is normal, otherwise I don’t see why Paul would write the second half of his letters if he could just pray, and they could pray, and boom! — Overnight we solve all these sanctification problems in our churches. So let’s pray.
Prayer for Deliverance
Father, you have heard our hearts’ desire for this prayer, and I want to begin by praising you as a perfectly holy, transcendentally pure, high, lifted up, above all temptation and all sin and all limitations kind of God that you are. I praise you as an infinite God of knowledge and infinite in power and infinite in goodness.
We don’t come to you because you need us. You don’t need us. You are “not served by human hands” as though you “needed anything,” but you give “to all mankind life and breath and everything” (Acts 17:25) including this prayer right now. You are the fountain, and we are thirsty. You are the bread, and we are hungry. You are the wisdom, and we are the foolish ones. You are strong, and we are weak and needy. You are righteous; we are guilty. And you are the treasure we long for, and we are bankrupt and poor. That is the way we come. We take refuge in our grace, in your righteousness, in your Son.
“It is not because we are worthy of answers, but because Christ is worthy of answers.”
We don’t ask anything because of our merit. Nobody listening to this, I hope, God, don’t let them ask anything because of their merit or their performance. It is not because we are worthy of answers, but because Christ is worthy of answers, and we are in Christ. That is what we mean. That is what we mean, Father, when we say we are coming in his name.
So for his sake, because of his blood, because of his righteousness, Father, and for his glory we are asking now, Deliver us, O Lord, from our bondage to the besetting sins of our lives. Look upon the chains that have held us so long. Have mercy on us, not because we are guiltless, but because Christ died so that we might walk in the power of the Spirit. He bought the new covenant promises for us. It grieves us, O God, that we are so slow to live in the freedom that he purchased, to be the people you have created us to be. And we are sorry, and we confess that we have grieved your Spirit by the slowness of our hearts.
Open the eyes of our hearts to see and to savor at new and powerful levels the beauty of holiness and purity and patience and meekness and forbearance — the beauty of Christ. Break our addiction to worldly pleasures and sinful responses to people like wives or husbands or children who frustrate us. Break our worldly responses of anger or lust or greed. We are tired of being jerked around by the impulses of lust and anger and covetousness. We want to be free by the power of a new, explosive satisfaction in you.
Oh, sweeten our souls with grace. Make us “quick to hear, slow to speak, slow to anger” (James 1:19), ready to forgive as we have been forgiven (see Ephesians 4:32) and eager to make peace by being wronged if necessary. Help us not to have to have the last word in any kind of dispute. Give us, O God, the fruit of self-control. You said it is the fruit of the Spirit (see Galatians 5:22–23). Give us the fruit of self-denial where our appetites for food and sex control us. Don’t let them control us anymore. We hate being enslaved by anything or anyone but Christ.
Deliver us for your name’s sake. Save us for your name’s sake. Fill us with all conquering joy for your name’s sake, I pray in Jesus’s name. Amen.