Open Your Bible
1 John 5:14-21, Deuteronomy 29:29, Luke 18:1-8, John 3:16-17
BY Sharon Hodde Miller
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).
82 thoughts on "Effective Prayer"
He promises to hear us & help us
We will continue to struggle with sin, but it will no longer define us.
This sentence can be defeating and victorious all at the same time. I struggle with food. I am a healthy weight but I seem to wake every morning with the devil in my head saying you’re just not quite good enough because you’re not skinny enough. I know that isn’t true but I dwell on that battle a lot of my day. I know if I didn’t consume my thoughts with that all day I could be a better tool for Jesus.
Lord help me know that you need to be at the forefront of my mind day in and day out so I am able to deflect the blazing darts of the evil one.
God is still working on me!❤️
I needed this today ❤️
I love this! That’s exactly what I needed to hear today!
Yes ! This was my exact feeling Leslie !
I hear you, and I understand, i have felt that too, kind of “put in a “single woman box”. I often feel unseen, and that was what I was saying in my reply. One day a friend said 3 words to me that ring in my ears all the time and changed everything for me, “God sees you”. I was looking to be seen when above it all God saw everything, knew every hurt, every sadness. The reality is, there are way more married women, with children in this world than single, so that will be pictured as the norm, because it is. But when you feel unseen, God sees every single bit of you and your life, He knows your heart and your hurts more than any human can ever know. He wants to comfort you and fill up that sadness with Himself. I say this because of your original post where you said it made you sad to see pictures of mother and child. God has very specific plans for your life and is working them out through His perfect timing and “refinement” goals. Have you ever looked at Michelangelo’s painting “creation”. Most people just see the part where God is depicted reaching out and touching Adams hand, but if you look at the whole picture, you see Gods other arm around a young woman. Many people say he is depicting Eve there, or, a symbol of Gods daughters, whom he cherishes and protects. When ever i feel unseen, I picture myself there. Praying for you.
Margaret, I do appreciate your thoughtful response. Perhaps I was not clear. I am not sitting in sadness reflection on what I do not have. I would, however, appreciate more of a focus on being a Christ-like woman. Not predominantly a mom. I’ve been a working woman for ten years and feel very unseen by the Christian community. That was more my point which I was unclear on.
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