There are several, but in my experience none top prayer and studying God’s Word. I’ve found both indispensable to my recovery from porn addiction. Neither cost a cent. There’s no fee for getting on one’s knees and there are several free apps providing full access to the Bible in any translation. In my previous essay I wrote that by “walking in the Spirit” one can avoid a lot of potholes when it comes to battling animalistic urges. Thus sticking our head in the Scriptures and communicating with our Heavenly Father on a daily basis are essential. As for prayer I’m sure I don’t need to define the term for believers. Jesus prayed all the time. He even taught us how. Sounds simple, right? It’s not. Why? Because talking to an invisible God doesn’t come naturally for any of us. Therefore it’s something we must work at. Don’t feel alone. Many noted theologians and preachers rate their prayer life inadequate. The respected Christian psychologist/author Dr. Larry Crabb once confessed prayer was the weakest aspect of his faith. He wrote of his ongoing frustration: “There are no techniques in good conversation with God. There are no means to manipulate Him, no ways to persuade Him to do things our way. He’s not open to input on how best to run my life.” Prayer is challenging.
Yet to not pray is akin to expecting your phone to recharge without plugging it in. And giving up praying altogether because you don’t hear anything isn’t a productive option. Fact is prayer’s our spiritual lifeline. The most practical advice I’ve run across is to (A) create an environment most conducive to you getting comfortable talking to God, (B) figure out what hour of the day praying inspires you most and (C) allot enough time for God to cut through the mental clutter orbiting your brain 24/7 to make His divine presence palpable. Keep in mind what you say to God is never as important as merely including Him in your daily life. Crabb encountered the great Brennan Manning one day. Brennan said he was on his way to a weeklong prayer retreat. Crabb asked what something like that did for his faith. Manning replied, “I’ve never thought about what I get out of it. I just figure God likes it when I show up.” Perhaps that’s the best reason for spending time with our merciful Creator. He’s absolutely delighted when we pause in our busy lives to hang out with Him for a while.
Then there’s the Bible. Personally, I deem it vital to experiencing/conducting a satisfying life on earth. When I finally stopped ogling pornography it was crucial I fill the resulting void with uplifting things, powerful things, intriguing things that’d hold my interest and keep my thoughts from wandering back into fantasyland. James expressed it better than I ever will: “Therefore, get rid of all moral filth and the evil that’s so prevalent and humbly accept the word planted in you, which can save you. Do not merely listen to the word, and so deceive yourselves. Do what it says. Anyone who listens to the word but does not do what it says is like someone who looks at his face in a mirror and, after looking at himself, goes away and immediately forgets what he looks like. But whoever looks intently into the perfect law that gives freedom, and continues in it – not forgetting what they’ve heard, but doing it – they will be blessed in what they do” (James 1:21-25). There’s a lot of wisdom in this encouraging passage worth examining closer.
James stresses stepping out of denial regarding our sinful habits must occur first or we’re just spinning our wheels, going nowhere. Next we must approach God’s Word humbly by deflating our bloated pride and trusting it contains the whole truth and nothing but. Note that if we read the Scriptures with the intent of cherry-picking verses out of context in order to beat people over the head with them then we’re missing the point by miles. The Bible isn’t a weapon. It’s a flawless guide and, when employed as such, it’ll change everything about us. Is it controversial? Does a duck quack? Still, to quote Timothy Keller, “To stay away from Christianity because part of the Bible’s teaching is offensive to you assumes that if there is a God He wouldn’t have any views that upset you.” I’m amazed at how many broken folks come into Celebrate Recovery desperate for spiritual healing from their destructive addictions yet can’t be bothered with reading the Bible. Nine years ago I was one of them. Despite my church upbringing I’d never read it cover to cover but when I did something miraculous happened in my soul. I’d been waiting my entire life for God to reveal Himself to me. Yet all that time His one-on-one communication device had been collecting dust on my bookshelf. My conceited intellect had deemed it irrelevant. Steve Gallagher wrote, “I can’t emphasize enough the importance of soaking up God’s Word. The person may not be changed overnight, but the change will come in time.”
Some have, upon learning I read the Bible every day, inferred I’m a victim of “brainwashing.” I tell them if they knew the kind of sordid, obscene images I’d spent nearly half a century papering the walls of my mind with they’d likely concur a thorough “brain wash” was necessary to set me right with God again. I’ve never found anything to rival the effect His Word continues to have on me. (I’ve looked.) Kathleen Norris wrote, “In the context of real life, the Bible seems refreshingly whole, an honest reflection on humanity in relation to the sacred and the profane. I can’t learn enough about it, but I also have to trust what little I know, and proceed, in faith, to seek God there.” I can tell you this – seeking God instead of sexual gratification is a thousand times more rewarding.