“Watch and pray, lest you enter into temptation. The spirit indeed is willing, but the flesh is weak.” Matthew 26:41 (NKJV)
If we want to have the strength to resist temptation, we need to pray for the strength to resist temptation. There are two times to pray about temptation, before it happens and while it’s happening. If you’ve ever read the Lord’s Prayer, then you know that Jesus taught us to pray to have strength to resist temptation.
“And do not lead us into temptation, But deliver us from the evil one. For Yours is the kingdom and the power and the glory forever.” Amen. Matthew 6:13 (NKJV)
We may not like to admit what we are tempted by, but we all know what tempts us. Very rarely does the temptation of a specific sin catch us off guard. Every one of us knows exactly what sins have the greatest appeal to us. When you pray, pray specifically to have the strength to resist this temptation. It is important for us to be completely honest with God as we talk to Him about this. He knows just as well as we do what tempts us. Ask Him to give you the strength to resist this temptation when it is presented to you. Ask Him to make it clear where the way of escape from this temptation is. Pray to resist temptation before you are tempted.
Secondly we must pray during the temptation.
“Seeing then that we have a great High Priest who has passed through the heavens, Jesus the Son of God, let us hold fast our confession. 15 For we do not have a High Priest who cannot sympathize with our weaknesses, but was in all points tempted as we are, yet without sin. 16 Let us therefore come boldly to the throne of grace, that we may obtain mercy and find grace to help in time of need.” Hebrews 4:14-16 (NKJV)
Since Jesus came to earth, took on human form and dwelt among us He is able to sympathize with our weaknesses, temptations and struggles. The idea here is that Jesus not only understands our weaknesses, temptations and struggles but He feels our pain. It’s almost like He is going through them with us. This means He understands and feels our pain when we are sick, suffer trials, are discouraged, are heartbroken, face death, lose a loved one, feel lonely, feel helpless and face temptation. The great promise of this passage is that when we go to Jesus He will give us the grace we need to help us in our time of need.
One of the things we see in this is that there is more to grace than salvation. We are all familiar with the idea that we are saved by grace. God’s grace is also His power to strengthen us spiritually. The grace of God can strengthen us to resist the temptations we are surely going to face. Grace isn’t just something we need when we sin. Grace is something we need all the time. We need the grace of God to strengthen us so we can resist temptations.
Knowing that Christ is our High Priest that invites us to come to the throne of grace and find the mercy and grace we need motivates us to come boldly to come to Him. Going to Christ for help causes us to focus on Christ and thus resist temptation.
Take some time today to pray specifically about the temptations that you are most prone to give into. Ask God to help you resist the temptation as it comes into your life. Ask God to help you find the way out that He has promised will always be there (1 Corinthians 10:13). Ask God to change your desires so that you aren’t tempted by that sin any longer.