Hey, it’s Craig, and I’m back with another attempt at answering a recent question we received through The Panic Button:
“Why doesn’t God answer my prayer and take away my desire for / addiction to porn? Why doesn’t God do what I’ve asked him to do?”
I can’t tell you the number of times I’ve prayed for something and haven’t gotten it. How many times I’ve gotten a “no,” or no response at all. Countless. But you know what? I still believe in the Lord.
We treat God like the Super Lotto. The Bible tells us what we need to do. It doesn’t mean that it’s going to be easy. It doesn’t mean that you’re not going to be tempted. Jesus was the only person who ever successfully resisted temptation to the point of perfection.
Perfection is a mark that we can’t hit on our own, and only Jesus truly makes us “perfect.” Sure, we can ask God to take away our temptations, but rather than looking to him as a genie, what if we looked at ourselves with the eyes that he has for us?
What if we embraced the reality of our situation, instead? No, I don’t mean diving headfirst into sin… but if God is interested in our transformation, and he promises to finish the work that he has begun in us, then what if we simply acknowledged the fact that we’ve got a journey ahead of us – one that won’t conclude overnight?
We all are walking around with temptations (and a bunch of baggage beneath them) that we haven’t come close to figuring out yet.
We need help from God. But if God answered every prayer the first time, we would never be forced to grow. We would never need to ask for help. We would never reach out to our community or find a small group or support from a close friend. The Lord is interested in our holiness, and in our dependence upon him and the people he has given to be his hands and feet as we take steps toward that end.
Maybe God has put you in exactly the right time and place that he wants you, surrounded by exactly the right people who hold the keys to helping you out of this mess. And maybe there’s something to be said about you wrestling through these temptations. After all, the Christian life – it seems – is defined not so much by our own power, but by that found on our knees in prayer before the Lord. If we didn’t need him, when would he ever find us there?
So, will God answer your prayers?
He already has.
If you have a relationship with Jesus, your sin has already been paid for. And because you have a relationship with him, you don’t want to abuse his grace and mercy on the cross. True change happens when what we do flows out of who we are… and you are a son or daughter of Christ. Theologically, you might say that “indicative” (who you are) precedes (comes before) “imperative” (what you are commanded to do). Want an example? Read Romans 6 – the apostle Paul talks all about it in that chapter.
It has to work in that order, otherwise it doesn’t work at all.
Maybe you’re in the middle of this struggle for a reason. Remember who you are – who Christ has called you – and then, like he did on the cross, and through the strength of his resurrection, work through it. Don’t just ask to be removed from it.
The book of Hebrews has something amazing to say about who God is to us in hard times. Check out Hebrews 4:14-16. It’s amazing. We have a God who understands our struggle, and invites us to receive his grace when we need it most… how many of you would raise your hands if you “need it most” in the face of this kind of temptation?
Maybe there’s something in the middle of this messy stuff that God’s trying to teach you.
MY FAVORITE QUOTES FROM THIS PODCAST EPISODE
- We treat God like the Super Lotto. The Bible tells not only what we need to do, but who we are. That doesn’t doesn’t mean it’s going to be easy.
- Perfection is a mark that we can’t hit on our own, and only Jesus truly makes us “perfect.”
- I think you’ve got to understand that God’s seeing the beginning and the end. He sees the big picture. Maybe he’s taking you through this season for a reason, rather than giving you a shortcut around it.
- Look who God has placed in your life. Look who’s there to support you. Look who’s going through the same exact thing, fighting their way through it.
- The Christian life – it seems – is defined not so much by our own power, but by that found on our knees in prayer before the Lord. If we didn’t need him, when would He ever find us there?
- Help doesn’t only come in the form of, “Let me remove you from this situation.” It might look more like, “Man, we’re gonna get through this.” And walking through the flames is a lot harder than jumping over them.
- What’s God trying to teach you through this season? Why are you struggling? Maybe you need to do a new thing. Maybe you need to find a new friend. Maybe you need to find a new community. Maybe this is God’s way of revealing how those changes can be made possible in your life.
- Seventy percent of our small group leaders are “children” – so to speak – of our small group ministry. They went through the process before they started to lead it, and the process changed them. We are here for you if you need it, and we’ve seen – firsthand – the redemptive fruit of engaging with and leaning into the hard seasons of this life that we live, together.
LISTEN TO THE AUDIO
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