...when I first became a Christian I quit for maybe two months. Totally quit. I felt amazing. But then it started up again and I do it multiple times a week sometimes even daily. I hate it but I can't stop it. I confess my sins in prayer and ask for help to quit. I just can't. I've noticed many prayers answered since I became a Christian but not this one. I honestly don't understand why this prayer hasn't been answered but I'm not angry at God or anything I'm just frustrated...
A very common problem for us chaps sadly - who of us is without sin? "Let he who is without sin, throw the first stone!" At my ripe old age (82), everything has "dried up"/ceased working properly in the genital department. You know the common saying :"if you don't use a thing - you may lose it"), but unfortunately the wild "feelings" are still there despite that.
My wife is 7 years younger than me but has bowel prolapse problems/bleeding piles (despite several remedial ops) - so for that and other reasons "there's nothing doing on the more intimate front" - and that's been the situation since prostate surgery at age 55 made me impotent (plus the now all-too common slowness in urine flow despite the remedial "resection" op, and others!). Can't take any medication for the basic problem because of taking "heart meds" after 5 bypasses (so 27 years of no intimate contact!). Another reason I could not use stuff like Viagra to overcome the E.D. problem, is the risk of increased blood pressure adding to the stress on my eye retinas (have extremely poor sight at present) - so don't want to loose what sight I have still got! Sorry about this initial "blabbing" - just indicating "where I'm at" - and so you won't think I'm just a wee bit short of being a saint!!! The snag is, the mind is the real battle-ground and you have to find some "diversionary tactics" so that your mind isn't left free to lead you to do as you fancy.
Think someone wrote on the subject of Christian meditation (think I saw it in Thomas Keating's "Intimacy with God:An Introduction to Centering Prayer" - it's mainly for R.C.s but all can learn something useful from it and it has some helpful diagrams in the practical section!), that when some "insistent (wrong!) side-thought" keeps on intruding into your mind (e.g. the urge to gratify yourself!), then it is better to practice letting it "pass by" and then return to your main intended (right!) thought - i.e not allowing that intrusive side-thought to "take-over" control! If I remember correctly the writer's suggestion was that you should visualize yourself in a boat on quiet water - then when a wrong intrusive thought occurs, like something floating on the water's surface - just let it drift by, while you are peacefully resting in the boat and return to your right thought!
Think it's sometimes called "the law of reverse effort" the harder
you try to concentrate on something - the more difficult
it becomes. So as the catchphrase says "Don't force it Phoebe!" - relax and let your wrong thought "drift by
" not paying it any attention since it is of little real import (regard the wrong side-thought as a bit of a "yawn" and not really helping you - so discard it, i.e. don't act on it!)
- then return to the right main thought.
I would advise taking up some strenuous activity (Squash, or join a competitive swimming club, for instance - then practice to do well in your chosen activity) so as to exhaust yourself when "feelings" become difficult. Wear yourself out so that you desperately need a snooze to recuperate!
(The devil is adept at making use of idle hands or minds - but if you fall asleep through sheer weariness, that doesnt give him a chance!) Some of the replies given earlier seem to be more promising than others. I don't like the "Covenant Eyes" idea 'cos it's a bit like "Big Brother is watching you!" making you feel guilty (and most of us are anyway!). The mind is very strange - sometimes the more you try to fight against something, the more difficult things become - in fact you might get "swept away" by your emotions, and just "go ahead" and do what you know is wrong!
You probably know the Bible verse that says "If we regard evil in our hearts, then God will not hear us!"
. When the "still small voice" of the Lord is silent - that's a sure sign that something is radically wrong in our lives - and there needs to be deep confession and sorrow for our current lapses "If we confess our sins, God is faithful and just, and will forgive us our sins, and cleanse us from every kind of wrong.
". After confession/repentance for a current failing - if it was truly meant, you should experience a reconciliation with Him, and the "still small voice" of the Lord will speak, to re-assure you of His amazing love. (See my P.S. at the end!) Let's face it He knows all about us (EVERY failing) - so He is not surprised when we take a "tumble". Just talk to Him - He wants you to come back and be "cleaned up" - even if He knows we may fail again, later! The time between "failures" should hopefully become greater. It is vital to have a "tender" conscience about this business - keep a "short account" with the Lord!
Those who enjoy doing evil continually with no thought for the Lord, have a seared conscience and are as good as lost. Relax Mark! - Am sure you are not in that category!
The previous paragraph raises an important issue IMO! We cannot hope to win our personal battles by ourselves - we need the "Paraclete" (aka the Indwelling Holy Spirit, our Advocate and Comforter) to guide/correct us - "Correction is the high road to life - neglect reproof and you miss the way!"
. If a person "decides" that they want to become a Christian, possibly because of the example of others etc - that is a fine thing - but only a beginning! One can go through the various stages (e.g. full immersion baptism, confirmation etc,) - but unless in seeking a closer relationship with the Lord, He has responded to our cry for that closeness by "touching" our lives, drawing us closer to Himself via the Holy Spirit - then we are in my estimation "crippled" until we yield ourselves to Him (or even, at a much deeper level, "present" ourselves to Him as a living sacrifice, available for His
purposes). Have in mind the verse that comes after Paul's description of the fruit of the Spirit : "And those that belong to Christ have crucified the lower nature with it's passions and desires."
That's strong stuff - we can't do it without your help Lord!!!The trouble stems from the fact that we so often wrongly think that "our lives are our own", and consequently, we can please ourselves exactly what we do!
. Paul sets us right on this issue in 1 Cor 6:19-20 "Do you not know that your body is a shrine of the indwelling Holy Spirit, and the Spirit is God's gift to you. You do not belong to yourselves; you were bought at a price. Then honour God in your body."
. The Lord has "ownership rights" over us, and by "departing" from His best purposes for us, we must grieve Him terribly - because in His omniscience He knows, in the long run, what is best for us!Any who claim to have conclusively won the battle between "the flesh" and "the Spirit" while still in this mortal body - frankly astonish me! I wonder how they can possibly deal with the never ending assault on our senses, principally by the media, of what is not holy.
(To live the life of a hermit in the desert, cut off from all tempting influences would not be the solution - The Lord wants us to care and live peacefully with one another!) There are many references in Scripture to "holiness" and this is God's ideal for us (e.g. Jesus saying "Be ye holy, even as I am holy!") - we however, cannot even approach such a high standard, without the Lord's help (so much
"abiding in Him" is required). Jesus said "I am the vine and you are the branches. He who dwells in me, as I dwell in him, bears much fruit; for apart from me you can do nothing."
- and that "abiding" means spending personal/private time with Him - not necessarily telling Him "how things are with us" (He already knows after all!), but sometimes just being quiet with Him - He will speak to us by his indwelling Spirit when He thinks fit. One of the last chapters in one of my favourite books "The Normal Christian Life" (Watchman Nee) draws on the story of the woman anointing Jesus with a very costly perfume, much to the disciples annoyance at what they consider a a gross waste! Yet Jesus rebukes them for their wrong heart attitude - our most costly gift is unworthy of His wonderful mercy and grace to us!
The Lord is delighted when we come humbly to Him, just waiting quietly on Him - though many others might call that a waste of time!
To enlarge on that idea suggested in the last para - think we can all benefit by going off to our own "quiet space", for a regular daily short time (maybe 10 minutes initially) - to "wait quietly on the Lord". Think of it as a personal one-to-one session - Jesus and I together for a while! Maybe you might find some encouraging words come into your mind - respond to them
! Checkout the reference in your Bible where Jesus says "I in you, and you in me"
- think that will open up to you a whole new vista of understanding - we Christians are never alone
- the Lord is really close to us "a heartbeat away". So let's not "soil" that precious "Together-ness with Him" by wrong thoughts/actions! It's a sobering thought that our every act is noted in heaven - and at our end "books will be opened" (Rev 20:12)
and an assessment made of what we have done with our lives. Will the heavenly records show that we have let Jesus "have His way" with us
- or will they show we always went our own foolish way?
There is also in Heaven, so we understand, a "Book Of Life" and if our names are inscribed in it we shall obtain mercy - "There is therefore now no condemnation to those who are in Christ Jesus, who do not walk according to the flesh, but according to the Spirit." (Rom 8:12 NKJV)
. That little word "in" - as "in Adam", and "in Christ" - is of paramount importance IMO, which is why I strongly recommend Watchman Nee's old classic "The Normal Christian Life" - it is "meaty reading" (although it's style is simple), but very rewarding! In fact I found it difficult to assimilate it's ideas initially, dwelling mainly on the meaning of Paul's Romans epistle - but over a period of years I have read/reread it many times and it has changed my "mind set" for the better, and that of so many others.
On the matter of looking at porn - we need to remember that the video clips are rehearsed enactments by models, so the photographers can get the angles right etc, and have little connection with reality. (Coming to a mutual orgasm with a partner needs patience, care and consideration for each other) In the porn videos "love-making" is photographed (sometimes in close-up detail) to stimulate unhealthy appetites catering for the wide spectrum of the Kinsey sexual scale. Sadly, it has the effect on most of us of "wanting a slice of the action"!
It may be helpful to ask oneself some "pointed" questions if viewing such stuff - like "Is this portraying real love for a partner or is it just satisfying the prime mover's lustful desires?"
, or perhaps a question like "Would I really like to participate in a continual daily routine like that shown in the video - to the almost complete exclusion of my family relationships and hobbies etc?" It might be helpful , as I wrote above, to consider it all a bit of a bore or "yawn", since it's certainly not going to help you live decently "If we walk in the light, as He is in the light, then we have fellowship with one another, and the blood of Jesus cleanses us from every sin"!)
. The act of "love" just seems to get demoted to a frantic pelvic thrusting of the genitalia - without
any thought of responsibility, consideration for the best interests, and respect for one's partner etc,. Better to avoid being soiled by that "worldly stuff" - so if it's via the internet, then use a "Broadband Shield" set at the PG level (but don't forget to allow access to forums such as this!). "Blessed are the pure in heart - for they shall see God"
- sadly, a lot of us may miss out on that!
I think one of the most touching of Jesus parables is the one of the "Prodigal Son" and portrays what the Father really seeks. On the errant son's return, the father didn't put his hands on his hips and coldly say "Oh - so you've decided to come back after all!"
- No! he rushed towards him and lovingly flung his arms around his son! Am sure that's how the Father will treat us, foolish though we are!
Despite my fairly obvious failings - my faith/trust in the Lord "keeps my head just above the water to snatch a breath" so am still alive and kicking - and though I may never qualify for a halo - through it all, I still "hear" Him - or rather His helping/correcting short messages "come into" my mind - i.e. not an audible voice! (BTW am not a "Schizo"!
). One of my major "failings" is to lapse into "wicked imaginings" ("fabricating" scenarios that pander to "base desires") when I am having trouble getting to sleep. I asked the Lord to help me with that recently, after some bad occurrences of that fault, and "felt" His re-assurance on that matter, that He would
help me. Can happily report that for a long time now, I have slept blissfully like a babe without any of those wrong thoughts, thanks to the Lord's help.
That "kindness" reminds me of what Paul wrote in his epistles "If we ask for anything according to His will, He hears us - and if we know that He hears us, then we know that we have the petitions that we ask"
(subject to His omniscient knowledge of what is best for us). This is why, although some say "Pray through till the burden lifts" - my experience of the Lord is that, if He tells me "I have heard you!" - that is good enough for me, I know the matter is in His capable hands - all I have to do is trust Him!
I bet a psychiatrist would have a "ball of a time" analyzing some of us! Of late, I have been trying to delve a bit deeper into the inner reasons for my attitudes, in the hope maybe of finding some remedial solutions, or reaching a peaceful acceptance. I think the Lord has indicated that my problems stem back to childhood - don't want to get "auto-biographical", but there have been incidents that have probably had a major influence on what/who I now am - "All that we are is the result of what we have thought"
. Guess that applies to all of us - you know the attribution some make to our problems being the result of early "poor potty training"!!!
In "This was your life" by Rick Howard and Jamie Lash, they write : 'When we sin, we are saying to God "I don't trust you - I trust me. I want what is best for me. I'm not so sure about you, I am going with my own plan" Thus we exalt ourselves and demean God - a nasty combination.'
Am not sure who said it, but this struck me as helpful at the time (just remember it works either way, according to your choice of thought - upwards
) : "Sow a thought - reap a deed - sow a deed - reap a habit - sow a habit - reap a life!"
Great things can result from small beginnings there is a Bible verse that says "Do not despise the day of small beginnings!"
So we can all make a fresh start on the right
P.S. My wife often reads aloud to me books that will benefit us both - and we are currently on Bruce Van Natta's testimony in "A Miraculous Life". (a good thought provoking book!) It seems he was called by the Lord into full-time ministry when quite young - but went "off the rails" as many of us do, ignoring the Lord for some 16 years or more, until his "hearing the Lord" ceased. He described in the book how it took a traumatic accident (almost severed in two when a truck he was repairing slipped off a jack) and his very slow
recovery to get back to anything resembling normal life - but he still did not "hear" the Lord, and his efforts to read his Bible became an unenlightened drudge. To "investigate" this, he went back to the last place where he was in "communication" with the Lord and sought the Lord more deeply about this "road-block" he was encountering. The lord "spoke" to him about this, and it turned out that such was the Lord's determination that Bruce should obey His plan (for the benefit of others!) that He ceased "communication" until Bruce obeyed His original call. Bruce gave in, sold his mechanic diesel repair business and started "Sweetbread Ministries". Life then "opened up" again for Bruce! "To obey is better than sacrifice."
, Jesus said "if you love me, you will obey my commands."
. We do not belong to ourselves - we have been bought at a price! If the Lord points to something He wishes to see changed in our lives - it's no good trying to wriggle out of action by offering our own alternative "Plan B" (as a "sacrifice"!) - the Lord will stick to His "Plan A" and we'll hear no more from Him, till we give in - He knows what's best for us. Furthermore, I think there is a verse in the O.T. that says "Obedience delayed is a kin to witchcraft", and we will reap the consequences of our delayed action!