Purposeful Prayer

One of the great things about purposeful prayer is that it can center us. It can anchor us to the truths and realities of our identity in Christ, even when the waves of life feel like they’re crashing over us. Further, purposeful prayer can remind us where we are going. By inviting God into particular places in our journey, we do ourselves a favor by taking note of where we are and where it is we’re trying to go. We can invite God into the present, pray for his help reaching the destination he designates, and also to help us develop the character He desires in us along the way.

I find purposeful prayer especially helpful when I know I’m headed into a circumstance where my integrity may be challenged. For example, on Thursday I’ll be driving to the airport for the next Every Mans Battle Workshop. I know that I’m driving towards an environment where I better be on my A-game. Not only is the airport a temptation filled placed because of the people, but also because in my past life of addiction I would use the anonymity of traveling to other cities to act out. I used to get excited and feel the drip of adrenaline just driving to the airport, knowing I was going to become a different person. Now I know that the electricity associated with that drive it is a trap; giving it attention or acknowledgement is a step towards forfeiting my integrity.

So, knowing I’m headed into that space requires me to prepare with purposeful prayer. Month after month on the drive I pray this prayer:

 God, help me be a man of integrity as I walk into that airport. When I’m on the plane, or at the hotel, help me honor you, my wife, my boys, my self, my clients, my ministry and my recovery. Help me honor you with my words, with my eyes, with my mind, with my hands and with my heart. Help me be a man worthy of the call you’ve put on my life. Amen.

What situations do you know in advance will challenge your integrity? What prayer can you pray to help center and anchor you to be the man God has called you to be? I urge you to write yours down and review it often.

PS: this idea of purposeful prayer is a part of the additional tools I’ve included in the Worthy of Her Trust Toolkit. I developed this ebook to summarize the key points of Worthy of Her Trust, as well as to provide additional prayers, exercises and Scripture to help with the process. You can purchase and download that resource HERE.

Default Settings

This weekend it was beautiful in Denver, so Shelley and I took the boys for a hike. The area, known as Red Rocks, is a gorgeous setting. It has huge rock outcroppings, a path/trail that the boys can handle and then a popular amphitheater. We wanted the boys to see it, but as we crested the final stairway I was reminded what makes the place so popular.

It’s not because of the concerts that go on there, but instead because it is a workout mecca. The steep seating sections, the stairs and the atmosphere make it virtually an outdoor gym so people flock to it especially when the weather is nice. And by people, I mean the fittest of the fit. There were skimpy shorts, workout clothes and entirely too much skin showing. I had a moment of panic, bouncing my eyes in every direction, wondering how Shelley was feeling, thinking I should cover my kids’ eyes, yet not wanting to cause a scene with any of it.

For a minute it felt like I was in some overpowering situation where these evil people were casting a spell on me drawing out the lustful urges inside and creating an out of control monster. Like somehow seeing these people and being in this setting should cause fear and intimidation. For years that was my default setting; to be in a situation like this and freak out for nearly having an anxiety attack.

Then I gained some clarity. I didn’t need to freak out. I’m not an out of control lust monster. I don’t have to live in fear. I am a dearly loved, infinitely valuable child of God. My worth and value are rooted in my identity in Christ, not whether or not I lust and not in my physical fitness. These people aren’t evil either. Some of them are probably followers of Jesus. Some of them have a struggle with vanity. Some have no idea what it means to leave something to the imagination. But they aren’t evil.

The default freak out setting can change and instead become a calm, secure, grounded setting.

Does that mean I can be reckless with my eyes? No. Does that mean we need to hang around the place for any extended time? No. Does it mean I need to cause a scene? No.

Remember temptation and lust have no control over you. You don’t have to live in fear and anxiety. You are a child of the risen King, dearly loved and infinitely valuable. You’re not a monster or a pervert. Your default setting can change and become calm, secure and grounded.

Own It

Jumping right in…

If you have acted out sexually with pornography, masturbation, affairs, etc. you’ve also acted “in” relationally. The two go hand-in-hand. Men who struggle with sexual integrity issues also struggle with things like hiding, blaming, shaming, avoiding, stonewalling, criticizing and controlling with anger. These behaviors push people away and, as some wives report, actually hurt worse than the sexual betrayal.

Once disclosure/discovery occurs and the acting out behaviors stop, the acting in behaviors become the issue. The tougher issue. It’s incredibly hard to change and get away from a critical spirit, from a blameshifting attitude or from being angry and defensive. Yet this is the work of recovery.

Too often I find that while men will own their acting out behavior, they have a difficult time owning their acting in behavior. Typically the justification for it is a cause and effect accusation against the wife. He says he wouldn’t have to be defensive if she didn’t get so angry and accuse him of things. He wouldn’t have to be quiet and shut down if she could just calm down and listen. He wouldn’t have to criticize her if she were a little more complimentary of him. Further, I hear the self validation when guys say that it is only with their wives that they are this way. Since it only happens with her, not the kids, at work or with his buddies, then by process of elimination she is the problem.

Take it from a recovering acting in addict, the best thing you can do for your relationship and for your recovery personally is own this junk. Even the cause and effect thinking itself is acting in. It is putting up a relational wall that keeps pain out and stagnant, self righteousness in.

By the way, sometimes the last statement about it only happening with a wife is true. But its usually not because she is the problem, though that can certainly be the case. More often, its because the marriage is the most intimate relationship we’re involved in. A wife has more ammunition to fire, knows exactly what buttons to push (intentionally or accidentally), and wields the most power to pronounce judgement and rejection. Simply said, there is more risk in the marriage.

The sooner you begin to own those acting in behaviors, the sooner you will feel a change within yourself. Remember that those of us who do this stuff aren’t monsters or perverts, we’re not stupid or simply jerks. There is a reason and there are emotional triggers that prompt us to enact old, unhealthy ways of dealing with life. The more you understand these triggers and your automatic response, the more you have a chance for life to be different.