The fact is that we all are tempted to sin in one way or another: there are grave sins, venial sins, sins of commission and sins of omission; sin of malice and sins of weakness, and sin which are actions and sins which are just in thought and intention.
“For from within, out of men’s hearts, come evil thoughts, sexual immorality, theft, murder, adultery, greed, malice, deceit, lewdness, envy, slander, arrogance and folly. All these evils come from inside and make a man ‘unclean.’”
None of us are going to become completely sin-free overnight. But God expects us to fight temptation and overcome sin not in our own strength but His grace. It is worth keeping in mind that sin is primarily offence against God’, it is deceptive, it separates us from the Lord and others, it is the devil’s currency, it hardens our heart; ultimately he who sins ‘harms himself’ Sirach 19:4. But most of all, when we repent and turn back to the Lord, sin can always be forgiven and cleansed for the Lord is good and ‘rich in mercy’ (Eph 2:4).
1. Commit to pray daily
‘We do not want you to become lazy, but to imitate those who through faith and patience inherit what has been promised’.
King David had probably been resting too much – he got up in the evening! It’s good to relax and enjoy summer but if we become too lazy, especially because of the heat, then we can easily become spiritually lazy. So we need to be disciplined – and make sure that we fix our times of prayer.
Lord Jesus, please give me the grace to seek You every day, and help me to not be spiritually lazy, but place in me a burning desire to know You more! Help me to acknowledge Your presence daily in my life. Amen.
2. Choose to be wise and practical
‘And if your right hand causes you to sin, cut it off and throw it away. It is better for you to lose one part of your body than for your whole body to go into hell.’
King David should have been with his army – but instead he stayed at home. He was at the wrong place even though it seemed good. Worse still, though a stroll on the roof can be harmless, he must have known that his palace soared above the houses below and it was easy for him to fall into temptation.
Wrong places, wrong company can lead us to unnecessary temptation and sin – to drink too much, drugs, sexual sin, negativity, judgemental attitudes, gossip and so on. We need to be honest about the places and the people who lead us away from God; furthermore make sure we are also in the right places – Mass, prayer meetings, good friends and so on.
Holy Spirit I pray for the gift of wisdom, to be able to choose between what is right or wrong, so that I may continue to grow into the whole person that you have called me to be. Amen.
3. Avoid small compromises
‘Catch for us the foxes, the little foxes that ruin the vineyards, our vineyards that are in bloom.’
King David should not have followed the first glance with a second and third glance. He should not have entertained temptation and let temptation entertain him. Small compromises have to be avoided early. If David had forseen what would happen he wouldn’t have sinned.
When tempted, no one should say, “God is tempting me.” For God cannot be tempted by evil, nor does he tempt anyone; but each one is tempted when, by his own evil desire, he is dragged away and enticed. Then, after desire has conceived, it gives birth to sin; and sin, when it is full-grown, gives birth to death. James 1:13-15
Holy Spirit, you are my Protector and Deliverer, please help to be uncompromising in my struggle with temptation and to follow through with my decision to fight sin, so that I may love you more and more. Amen.
4. Be as careful when you are feeling good as when you are feeling bad
‘So if you think that you are standing firm, be careful that you don’t fall.’
1 Cor 10:11
It is easy for compromise to set in when we are feeling good and quite stable as it is easy when we are feeling down and full of self-pity. When we become over- confident, we may stop praying and become careless, overstepping healthy boundaries.
Lord Jesus, please help me to remain humble, even when I may seem to be living in a time of great joy. I acknowledge that I constantly and at all times need the help of your Holy Spirit who works in me and through me. Amen.
5. Make it a habit to confess
‘If we claim to be without sin, we deceive ourselves and the truth is not in us. 9 If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just and will forgive us our sins and purify us from all unrighteousness.’
1 John 1:8,9
Had King David recognised and confessed his sin, it would have prevented him from committing the next worse sin – murder. Unconfessed sin, pent up anger, suppressed resentment all pile up and do us no good. When we confess our sins to the Lord in prayer and in the sacrament of reconciliation, we are not only forgiven but straightened to fight temptation.
Lord Jesus, I am a weak sinner, and I am often tempted to sin in my thoughts, actions and words. Help me turn to you in times of temptation and to see forgiveness for my sins as often as possible, especially through the sacrament of reconciliation, so that I may be continuously cleansed and purified by Your Precious Blood that was spilled for me on the Cross of Calvary. Amen.
6. Pray for God’s mercy and healing
‘Have mercy on me, O God, according to your unfailing love; according to your great compassion blot out my transgressions. Wash away all my iniquity and cleanse me from my sin.’
There is no room for despair and discouragement in our walk with the Lord. We do well to keep eternity in mind. We do well also to remember the essence of the Good News that we need to proclaim to ourselves and other – Go tell everyone their sin and guilt can be forgiven.
Father God You are Just and True, but You are also Merciful and abounding in Love! Please help me to get back on my feet after having sinned, and to never give in to despair and discouragement. Give me the joy of true and deep repentance. Amen
7. Ask for the Lord’s deliverance and strength
‘You are my hiding place; you will protect me from trouble and surround me with songs of deliverance.’
The evil one will try and entice us to sin by suggesting it is harmless. At the moment of temptation ‘he does not fill us with hatred towards God but forgetfulness of God (Bonhoeffer)’ If we call upon the name of the Lord sincerely He will deliver us from the temptations of the devil and give us the strength to persevere in the joy of following the Lord and His will.
Holy Spirit I pray for protection against the devil and all of the temptations that are to be found in this fallen world. Through the Cross Lord Jesus You have overcome the powers of darkness, and by Your Resurrection we have been given us the hope of eternal life. May we forever walk in the Light of salvation, persevering until the end of this life, no matter what, so that we may be with the Father for eternity! Amen.