Effective Prayer

Open Your Bible

1 John 5:14-21, Deuteronomy 29:29, Luke 18:1-8, John 3:16-17

About ten years ago, I was struggling with gossip, a sin I couldn’t seem to kick, no matter how hard I tried. I had become convicted about it after living with a friend who didn’t gossip at all. Like, at all. She held her tongue and guarded confidences with patience and incredible grace. She was a wonderful example to me, and her integrity highlighted the cracks in my own. So, I decided to change.

At first, I simply tried to gossip less. I’d made up my mind and thought that would be enough. It wasn’t. Then, I decided to “fast” from gossip. Now, I know that’s not how fasting works; we aren’t supposed to fast from things we shouldn’t be doing in the first place. Even so, making the concerted effort really seemed to help. I limited the fast to forty days, cutting out gossip TV shows and magazines, and just trying to be more intentional. I took it one day at a time.

During those forty days, I was able to avoid gossip. And for the first time, I felt a sense of victory over this area of my life. Unfortunately, it didn’t stick. A decade later, I still fall prey to this sin. I still spread rumors under the guise of concern, I still ask for personal details I don’t need to hear, and I freely discuss the personal lives of famous people. I don’t like that I do it, but I do it nonetheless. I’ve come to realize I’ll struggle with it the rest of my life.

Ongoing struggles with sin are one of the great mysteries of the Christian life. On the one hand, following Christ means we put on our identity of Christ. In Him, we are set free from our sinful nature, and it no longer exercises unbridled power over us (Ephesians 4:22–24). On the other hand, we still sin. Even when we don’t want to sin, we do (Romans 7:15–16). In Christ we are victorious over our flesh, but we still do battle against it.

John alludes to this struggle, stating that we are victorious and should not continue to sin (1John 5:18), but he also encourages believers to pray for others while they’re in the midst of sinning. At first, it seems like John is contradicting himself. But what John is referring to is the tension between the “already, but not yet” of being a Christian. This concept means we have one foot in eternity and one foot here on earth. We already taste the victories of Christ’s resurrection, but we don’t yet possess them completely. We will continue to struggle with sin, but it will no longer define us.

This already-not-yet state of being can be frustrating, especially when you’re tired of struggling with sin. But even in that, God does not abandon us to struggle alone. We always have the help of prayer, which is why John encourages us to ask for anything “according to his will” (1John 5:14). When we ask God to deliver us from sin, He promises to hear us, and help us. He is the true God and our High Priest, and we can trust Him with our weaknesses (1John 5:20; Hebrews 4:15).

The struggle with our flesh is real, but take heart: God isn’t finished with us yet. We are already “in the true one—that is, in his Son Jesus Christ. He is the true God and eternal life” (1John 5:20). He is the only way to eternal life, and we are only just beginning to taste the fullness that awaits (Philippians 3:20).

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82 thoughts on "Effective Prayer"

  1. Jennifer Anapol says:

    I love the fact that God isn’t finished with me yet:)

    1. Jennifer Crowe says:

      ❤️

  2. Esther says:

    Thank you for sharing, I have never considered myself someone who gossips but this helped open my eyes to how I am now gossiping about the virus. My opinions help no one when it is just between a friend and I, instead let the conversation be uplifting and encouraging. Not focused on what I think should be done.

  3. Ashley White says:

    This was just what I needed to hear today! Happy Wednesday everyone ❤️

  4. Mari V says:

    This has nothing to do with the devotion but I just had to say this. I love the picture that went with our devotional today. I miss those days.

  5. Diana Fleenor says:

    Today’s passages are again pressing us to look deeply at what is the writer’s true meaning and how do we think, believe, feel and act upon them. Sometimes it’s hard to express it all clearly and succinctly. The “already, but not yet” is a reality that I’ve seen over and over throughout the NT. And as we walk on this narrow path with our Lord, there are ditches on both sides with pot holes that need be be dodged.

    As a couple of others have pointed out, we need to be careful about resigning to our sin, while knowing we are going to struggle with sin generally until the day we are complete in Christ. Yet, what is the means of grace God gives us to fight valiantly against sin? What is true repentance? One thing I see that needs to be the foundation to our beliefs about repentance is it is by God’s mercy and work in our lives that any of us are granted true repentance. Therefore, we have nothing to boast in, but the Lord himself. We are not saved or sanctified by the works of our flesh, but by the power of the Holy Spirit given to those who believe and receive the work of our Lord and Savior Jesus. Yet, on that foundation we are also called to be intentional about “putting off sin” and “putting sin to death”.

    As I meditated on all of these passages this morning, I was reminded of the teachings which define repentance as a “change of mind”. And I agree this is true — in part. Isn’t it also a “change of heart”? And if so, doesn’t this involve our emotions?

    A number of Scriptures came to mind. For example, Paul notes his gladness that the Corinthians’ “godly sorrow produced a repentance” (2 Corinthians 7:10). Jude tells us to “show mercy with fear, hating even the garment stained by the flesh” for others in deep sin (Jude 1:23). James urges his readers to “be wretched and mourn and weep. Let your laughter be turned to mourning and your joy to gloom” as we are convicted of our sin and double-mindedness (James 4:8-9). Such strong feelings seem to accompany repentance as the apostles wrote about it.

    Sometimes I wonder if part of the reason we get stuck in our sin is because we don’t have this kind of deep heart change. I have been under teaching which seems to minimize lament and hatred of sin. From where did this idea come? Perhaps the prosperity gospel which seems so rooted in the “New Thought” ideas that only “positive thinking” is good? Don’t get me wrong, I very much believe there is to be joy and celebration over the victory Christ has had for us on the cross. But, I also believe that James reminds us that as we “humble yourself before the Lord,” it will be him who “will exalt you” (James 4:10). It’s the Lord who will bring us to a return of joy.

    “Weeping may tarry for the night, but joy comes with the morning” (Psalm 30:4). Praying for us, sisters, that we may fight sin earnestly with our minds and our hearts with a hatred of sin that is grounded in knowing we are loved deeply by the one who has victory over it! I ask that he will grant us the joy that is truly fruit of the Spirit at work in us through our common faith in Christ Jesus.

  6. DOROTHY says:

    Rebekah C. amen but I have one thing to add we need to make sure we don’t take just one verse and use it especially if we use it out of context.

  7. Courtney says:

    God bless you, Tina, and may He continue to give you the strength and courage to share His love and word with those who do not know Him.

  8. Jenny Lucas says:

    I know that I sin daily and sometimes I realize it and sometimes I don’t. I need to make better choices to pray about it when i feel weak and He will make me stronger.