*Prayer Through Temptation
The Lord knows how to rescue the godly from temptation.
2 Peter 2:9 NASB
If darkness is occasioned by manifold, heavy, and unexpected temptations, the best way of removing and preventing this is to teach believers always to expect temptation. They dwell in an evil world, among wicked, subtle, malicious spirits, and have a heart capable of evil. They must be convinced that the whole work of sanctification is not, as they may have imagined, wrought at once. When they first believe, they are as newborn babes who are to gradually grow up. They may expect many storms before they come to the full stature of Christ.
Above all, let them be instructed, when the storm is upon them, not to reason with the devil but to pray. Let them pour out their souls before God and show Him of their trouble. And these are the persons unto whom, chiefly, we are to apply the great and precious promises. Not to the ignorant, till the ignorance is removed. Much less to an impenitent sinner.
To the tempted we may declare the loving-kindness of God. Dwell upon His faithfulness and the virtue of that blood shed for us to cleanse us from all sin. God will bear witness to His Word and bring them out of trouble. He will say, “Arise, shine, for your light has come! And the glory of the Lord is risen upon you.”
Indeed, that light, if you walk humbly and closely with God, will shine more and more unto the perfect day (see Proverbs 4:18).
*From How to Pray: The Best of John Wesley on Prayer, published by Barbour Publishing, Inc. Used by permission.
In this twenty-forth lesson on prayer, Wesley speaks of the need to expect temptation and to pray through temptation to victory. Prayer opens up the way of escape we read of in 1 Corinthians 10:1-13. Here Paul writes,
“1For I do not want you to be unaware, brethren, that our fathers were all under the cloud and all passed through the sea; 2and all were baptized into Moses in the cloud and in the sea; 3and all ate the same spiritual food; 4and all drank the same spiritual drink, for they were drinking from a spiritual rock which followed them; and the rock was Christ. 5Nevertheless, with most of them God was not well-pleased; for they were laid low in the wilderness.
“6Now these things happened as examples for us, so that we would not crave evil things as they also craved. 7Do not be idolaters, as some of them were; as it is written, “THE PEOPLE SAT DOWN TO EAT AND DRINK, AND STOOD UP TO PLAY.” 8Nor let us act immorally, as some of them did, and twenty-three thousand fell in one day. 9Nor let us try the Lord, as some of them did, and were destroyed by the serpents. 10Nor grumble, as some of them did, and were destroyed by the destroyer. 11Now these things happened to them as an example, and they were written for our instruction, upon whom the ends of the ages have come. 12Therefore let him who thinks he stands take heed that he does not fall. 13No temptation has overtaken you but such as is common to man; and God is faithful, who will not allow you to be tempted beyond what you are able, but with the temptation will provide the way of escape also, so that you will be able to endure it” (NASB).
Humility in our Christian walk and in our prayer life open the door to escape temptations. But often times, new believers come into the church expecting all opposition in their lives to have suddenly vanished. But, as Wesley states, “They must be convinced that the whole work of sanctification is not, as they may have imagined, wrought at once. When they first believe, they are as newborn babes who are to gradually grow up. They may expect many storms before they come to the full stature of Christ.”
So it is learning to pray through the temptation to victory that helps to grow us up into Christ. Wesley once said, “Every new victory which a soul gains is the effect of a new prayer….In the greatest temptations, a single look to Christ, and the barely pronouncing his name, suffices to overcome the wicked one, so it be done with confidence and calmness of spirit.”