Prayers Against Sexual Strongholds
This post is in honor of St Mary of Egypt, the desert harlot turned desert-dweller and our liturgical icon of repentance, whose feast just passed.
“The story of Mary of Egypt emphasizes that her prostitution as not a formal one. As the liturgical text puts it in the first person: “For nearly seventeen years I lived as a fire for public depravity but not at all for money. … I wanted to do it and I did it for nothing.” One day she followed male pilgrims to Jerusalem aboard ship from Alexandria, hoping to seduce as many as she could. In Jerusalem she wanted to enter the Church of the Holy Sepulchre on the appointed day for veneration of the Cross but could not, an invisible force seeming to hold her back. Suddenly she was overwhelmed with tears of contrition and began to pray. Returning the next morning, Mary was able to enter the church and venerate the cross. Then she quit the city, crossing the Jordan River with a little bread and a water jug, where she lived as a hermit in the desert caves for forty years.” Benedicta Ward
St Mary of Egypt is a proper example of the transformation of the Christian life because her story didn’t end there; she “struggled with wild beasts, desires and passions” for 17 years out of the 47 years in the desert. May we battle our lust with ferocity in our striving for purity, through repentance, fasting and praying, until we can say with St Mary “a calm and sweet light descended and enlightened me and chased away the thoughts that possessed me.” Transformation through repentance and the sacraments looks more like a journey than a destination. It is not a one-time event but a mode of existence. Even after we experience victory, in the wise words of my spiritual father, may we never cease to “respect our weaknesses” lest we assume that we are less of a prisoner to the same passions.
Lord God, cause my heart, soul, and mind to be so overtaken by Your grace that I share the testimony of the sinful woman who anointed Your feet. You said of her, “I tell you, her many sins have been forgiven – for she loved much. But he who has been forgiven little loves little.” (Luke 7:47)
Lord, I willingly admit that I am weak in my natural self. I used to offer the parts of my body in slavery to impurity and to ever-increasing wickedness. I now offer them in slavery to righteousness leading to holiness. (Romans 6:19)
Lord, Your Word says how I can keep my way pure: by living according to Your Word. I will seek You with all my heart; help me not stray from Your commands. Help me to hide Your Word in my heart that I might not sin against You. (Psalm 119:9-11)
Holy God, turn my eyes away from worthless things; preserve my life according to Your Word. Take away the disgrace I dread, for Your laws are good. (Psalm 119:37-39)
Lord God, teach me knowledge and good judgment, for I believe in Your commands. Before I was afflicted I went astray, but now I obey Your word. You are good, and what you do is good; teach me your decrees. (Psalm 119:66-68)
Lord God, guard my course and protect my way as I pursue a righteous, victorious life in You. (Proverbs 2:8)
Lord, help me not despise Your discipline and not to resent Your rebuke, because You discipline those You love. (Proverbs 3:11-12)
Lord God, Your Word says that You bless the home of the righteous, but Your curse is on the house of the wicked. (Proverbs 3:33) Lord, please help me cleanse my home of any kind of materials that support or fuel wickedness. Make this the kind of home You can fully bless.
Lord, help me to keep my eyes looking straight ahead and fix my gaze directly before me. Make level paths for my feet and strengthen me to take only ways that are firm. Help me not to swerve to the right or the left; keep my feet from evil. (Proverbs 4:25-27)
Lord God, help me to guard my heart above all else for it is the wellspring of life. Help me to put away perversity from my mouth and keep corrupt talk far from my lips. (Proverbs 4:23-24)
According to Your Word, a man’s ways are in full view of the Lord, and You examine all our paths. The evil deeds of a wicked man ensnare him; the cord of his sin hold him fast. He will die for lack of discipline, led astray by his own folly. (Proverbs 5:21-23)
Lord, self-discipline is a fruit of the Spirit. Please fill me with Your Spirit and empower me with a self-discipline only You can give. (Galatians 5:22-23)
God, please help me to love You with my whole heart, soul, mind, and strength for this is Your priority for my life. (Mark 12:30) Help me also to love others so that I will not want to engage them in any kind of dishonoring activity. (Mark 12:31) Break my heart when I even think of doing what is dishonorable, my God, You who had no sin to be sin for me, so that in Him I might become the righteousness of God. (2 Corinthians 5:21)
Lord Jesus, Whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable – if anything is excellent or praiseworthy – help me to think about such things. (Philippians 4:8-9)
Lord God, make me into a pure virgin emotionally, mentally, and spiritually, and even set this body apart to be used as an instrument of righteousness from now on. Please help me not to be deceived by the serpent’s cunning and allow my mind to be led astray from my new commitment of sincere and pure devotion to Christ. (2 Corinthians 11:2-3)
Lord, who can say, “I have kept my heart pure; I am clean and without sin?” (Proverbs 20:9) Lord, I am powerless to possess a pure and clean heart on my own. Only You can do it for me. Create in me a pure heart, O God, and renew a steadfast spirit within me…Restore to me the joy of Your salvation and grant me a willing spirit to sustain me. (Psalm 51:10, 12)
Lord, I admit that I reaped absolutely no benefit from the things I am guilty of. Those things result in death. But now that I have been set free, the benefit I am reaping leads to holiness and the result is eternal life. For the wages of sin is death but the gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord. (Romans 6:20-23)
Thank you, God, for promising that no temptation has seized me except what is common to man. And You, God, are faithful; You will not let me be tempted beyond what I can bear. But when I am tempted You will also provide a way out so that I can stand up under it. (1 Corinthians 10:13)
Father God, through constant use of the solid food of Your Word, help me to train myself to distinguish good from evil. (Hebrews 5:14)
Lord God, since I have a Great High Priest who has gone through the heavens, Jesus Your Son, help me hold firmly to the faith I profess. For I do not have a high priest who is unable to sympathize with my weaknesses, but I have one who has been tempted in every way, just as I am, yet without sin. Help me then approach the throne of grace with confidence, so that I may receive mercy and find grace to help me in the time of need. (Hebrews 4:14-16)
Lord of glory, You have a plan for me that no eye has seen, no ear has heard, and no mind has conceived. Your Spirit reveals this awesome plan to those who love You. (1 Corinthians 2:9) I acknowledge that Satan’s ploy is to keep me from fulfilling Your plan for my life. Please help me to resist him and overcome his assaults on my life. I want to do Your will, O God.
Lord God, I don’t want to remain a carnal Christian. I want to be a spiritual believer to whom You can speak and through whom You can minister. Please activate the mind of Christ in me daily that I may live in victory. (1 Corinthians 2:16; 3:1)
Lord, help me to rid myself of all malice and all deceit, hypocrisy, envy, and slander of every kind. Like a newborn baby, help me to crave pure spiritual milk, so that I may grow up in my salvation, now that I have tasted that the Lord is good. (1 Peter 2:1-2)
Since I have a Great Priest over the house of God, help me to draw near to You, God, with a sincere heart in full assurance of faith, having my heart sprinkled to cleanse me from a guilty conscience and having my body washed with pure water. Help me to hold unswervingly to the hope I profess, for He who promises is faithful. (Hebrews 10:21-23)
I am one of Your chosen people, O God, part of a royal priesthood, a holy nation, a people belonging to God, that I may declare the praises of You who called me out of darkness into Your wonderful light. I have now received mercy. You urge me as a stranger in this world to abstain from sinful desires, which war against my soul. (1 Peter 2:9-11)
God, You demonstrated Your love for me in that while I was still a sinner, You died for me. (Romans 5:8) Lord, help me to understand that You gave Your life to pay the debt for even the most heinous sins I could have committed. Your grace covers all sin if I will repent and receive.
Lord Jesus, You Yourself bore my sins in Your body on the tree so that I might die to sins and live for righteousness; by Your wounds I have been healed. For I was like a sheep going astray, but now I have returned to the Shepherd and Overseer of my soul. (1 Peter 2:24-25)
Lord God, You grant Your incomparably great power to those of us who believe. This same power is the mighty strength You exerted when You raised Christ from the dead. (Ephesians 1:19-20) If You can raise the dead, You have all the power I need to live victoriously over every stronghold!
I have been crucified with You, Christ, and I no longer live, but You live in me. The life I live in the body, I live by faith in You, the Son of God, who loved me and gave Yourself up for me. (Galatians 2:20)
These prayers are an excerpt from ‘Praying God’s Word’ by Beth Moore.
“You remind me…what I dare not speak of. For when I recall all the dangers which I overcame, and all the violent thoughts which confused me, I am again afraid that they will take possession of me.”
From a canonical account of St. Mary of Egypt
(Photo courtesy of Evgeny Tchebotarev)