Understanding Temptations & Lies during Spiritual Desolation

Temptations & lies are often things that we try to avoid at all costs, hoping that they will just go away and leave us alone.

In contrast to our common tendency, Acklin & Hicks, in their book Personal Prayer, invite us to take the following 3 steps:

1. Name the temptations & lies that assault us in spiritual desolation.

Put language to the mess that is going on in your mind & heart. Name it clearly with blunt & unambiguous terms.

  • Temptation example: I am tempted to watch pornography on my phone right now.
  • Lie example: I believe that I am all alone and there’s no one who cares about me.

“Identifying those areas often reveal our greatest weaknesses, precisely where the Enemy wants to attack us, thus helping us to understand ourselves much better, and revealing the parts of us that need the Lord’s healing, strength, and support” (158).

2. Invite Jesus into those temptations & lies.

Using simple, clear, and heartfelt language, invite the risen Lord Jesus into the temptations & lies that emerge during spiritual desolation.

“We are transformed when we start to let God into that place within us. This is very hard because He does not seem to be there… Every one of us has such a place in us. Some people live there all the time. Some people have some awareness of that place but only fall back into it infrequently. Most of us live around the jaws of that hell but do not fall into it very often. Others of us get snapped right into it as soon as there is heartbreak and disappointment or personal sin, shame, or failure. All of us taste it when there is personal or emotional pain” (161).

“It takes courageous vulnerability to share the darkest parts of our souls, but when we do, we can learn it is possible to be loved all the same” (161).

“Usually prayer brings us out of this better than anything else. In faith I discover that Jesus has entered into that place in His descent into hell and I can learn, in prayer, to bring God into that place within me, although my shame works against that… As we persist in prayer, inevitably we are led to face these parts of us. We can only hold up a facade before God for so long” (163).

3. Focus on Jesus.

Bringing Jesus into the temptations & lies leads us on a path to ultimately focus on Jesus, not on the temptation or lie.

“The best thing to do with weakness and even temptations is not to try to suppress or ignore them but to actually bring them before the Lord in prayer, focusing not on them but on Him, asking Him for relief from the temptations and total reliance on Him in our weakness” (116-7).

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