Written by Jack
C.S. Lewis wrote, “Enemy-occupied territory — that is what this world is. Christianity is the story of how the rightful king has landed, you might say landed in disguise, and is calling us all to take part in a great campaign of sabotage.”

I think the fight for freedom from addictions takes place on two levels.  In the Our Father, we say …lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from evil.  Many of the strategies we employ deal with the first part, avoiding temptation.  Exercise, reading a book, playing video games, hobbies…… These activities aim to keep us from thinking about our addiction and giving us healthy outlets for our stress.  All these can be effective activities but they are not solutions by themselves.  I have gone for a run and prayed but I have also gone for a run and let erotic scenarios play out in my head.  I have read scripture and I have read erotica.  I have even played video games and had inappropriate conversations with people.  To be effective these activities need to be well thought out and executed.  When I was in the military and we planned a mission avoiding enemy contact was the priority for most if not all the mission.  If you are moving a supply convoy through downtown Kabul, any contact with the enemy is a mission failure.  The number one priority is to break contact and get your cargo to its destination.  As addicts, the priority is to escape the temptation in some manner and go another direction.  The thing most people like to avoid talking about is what happens when you can’t break contact.  Sometimes we need to be delivered from evil.  In military plans we use terms like set up a base of fire, flank the enemy, call in fire support.  These are sterile terms to describe men engaging the enemy with small arms and in extreme cases with their bare hands.  There is blood.  There is chaos.  There is death.  When the enemy engages a soul in spiritual combat the results are just as fierce.  Angels and demons are at each other’s throats.  Your spiritual life is under extreme assault.  As the Bible states, the wages of sin are death.  When you are engaged in this up-close struggle the only effective weapon is prayer.  On a number of occasions for me, the battle has raged for hours and I knew if I stopped praying, I would surrender to the enemy and be drawn into darkness.

Most people either under value prayer or overvalue it.  Some think it is a silver bullet, others that it is worthless.  I view it like any weapon.  Its effectiveness depends on the soldier’s capability and training.  It has taken me years to make my prayer into a usable weapon.  Most of the time I have not even thought of using it in the heat of battle.  Like the soldier who dives for cover and leaves his rifle in his vehicle.  At other times, I have chosen not to use it because I knew it would be effective and I really wanted to walk back into the darkness.  I can honestly say every time I have used it to the best of my ability, I have walked from the fight battered but alive.  Not because of my prowess as a spiritual warrior but because Jesus walked through the smoke and fire and dragged me to safety.

One powerful weapon that Jesus gives us in this battle is that even if we are defeated or are captured by the enemy, He can bring us back to life, if we turn to him and confess our sins.  Imagine an army whose general can bring his soldiers back from the dead to fight again.  That is what Jesus can do for his followers who truly repent.  Look at Peter.  He denied Christ three times in His time of need but after Peter repented, Jesus called him back to “feed my sheep.”  Christ offers us that same gift if we turn back to him.  However, he calls us to pick back up our weapons and return to the battlefield to fight with Him.

I have been in online SAA.  I have done 21-day programs and 33-day programs.  I have watched hundreds of videos.  I learned a lot and I thought my addiction was under control but it never was.  I thought I was dedicated to prayer but I wasn’t.  Jesus showed me that I could spend 5 or 6 hours online with the enemy.  He asked me, “What, could ye not watch with Me one hour?” No, I couldn’t.  I was full of excuses why I didn’t have time to pray and full of reasons I needed to indulge in my addiction.  I thought I could pray but it was a lie.  Just like many soldiers think they can fight because they can hit a target on the rifle range but are ineffective when the bullets start to fly.  “Jesus teach me how to pray.” The disciples ask the question, but I never had.  It took over two years for Jesus to train me to pray.  I don’t know why I was surprised.  I spent many years of my life training to fight physical enemies but I thought I could take shortcuts to learn to fight the enemies that want to destroy my soul.  When I finally gave God the time he requested, I found I actually had more time available in my day than when I hoarded it for myself.  Before I started really praying, I felt like the paralyzed man in John 5.  Jesus asked him if he wanted to be healed.  The man doesn’t say yes, he starts giving excuses.  “I have no one to put me in the pool.”  I thought I couldn’t be trying any more but actually I couldn’t be trying any less.

When I was a competitive runner in college, I ran hundreds of miles and trained for hours each day.  When I was preparing for Ranger School, I dedicated hours every day to training and focused everything I did on it.  When I wanted to give up my addiction, I spent a couple minutes praying and listened to a podcast. And I wondered why I was up all-night sexting.  I was like a soldier who didn’t want to go to the rifle range or get up and do PT in the morning.  The secular world gives you a whole list of tasks to complete to overcome your addiction.  “Spirituality” is just an add-on in their opinion.  Start your day by offering it up to God. At the middle of the day, evaluate what has gone right and wrong.  Seek guidance for the rest of the day.  Conduct a nightly examination.  Start by thanking God for his blessings. Ask for His spirit to guide you.  Seek forgiveness and reflect on how you can serve God better tomorrow.  Ask him to be with you before every task you start every day. If you are close to God.  If you truly dedicate yourself to prayer, He will send His Spirit, who will give you the strength to accomplish the tasks you need to break free from the enemy’s grasp. He will give you the grace to commit to that plan or program, if that is what you need.  He will lead you to people and tactics that you need because he knows you better than you know yourself.

The leader of a religious order was planning to set up a program to help the poorest of the poor in the slums of one the major cities in his country.  He went to Mother Theresa to ask her advice.  As the man was telling her about all the tasks he needed to accomplish, Mother Theresa stopped him and said,” The most important thing your brothers can do is to pray a Holy Hour daily.”  The man looked at her and said, “I understand what you are saying and agree, but we have so much to do.  There is so much work, I don’t think we have time to pray an hour each day.”  Mother Theresa paused and looked him in the eye and said, “If you have that much work to do, then the only way you can accomplish it all is to have your brothers pray two Holy Hours every day without fail.”

“Likewise the Spirit helps us in our weakness; for we do not know how to pray as we ought, but the Spirit himself intercedes for us with sighs too deep for words” (Romans 8:26).


– By Jack

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