You mess up. You ask God for forgiveness. Thankfully you’re forgiven! Then you mess up again, and the cycle continues. How long can this keep going on? Doesn’t God care? Why aren’t your prayers for His help making any difference? I’ve learned there are ways to pray when you keep messing up that can change that cycle and help you experience real change.

God rarely works by eliminating old brain pathways instantly. I often hear from people who write something like, “I need prayer. I’ve prayed over and over for God to help me stop (sexually acting out, smoking, or whatever) and He’s not doing anything to help me.” The enemy knows very well how to hijack the good desires God built within you and twist them with lies, wounds, and sin to get you addicted and then smother you with shame.

God’s usual way of working with you is to walk with you through a process of transformation in which your old brain pathways become rebuilt. In that process you become a glorious demonstration of what He can do with someone who keeps showing up and keeps saying Yes to the work He is doing in you.

So here are five ways to pray when you keep messing up especially in dealing with addiction, sin, or brokenness.

  1. Jesus, HELP!

Satan loves to cover you with shame when you mess up. And shame keeps you in hiding – not only from yourself and others, but also from God. I often hear, “I’m too ashamed even to pray.” That message in your brain is the enemy at work.

Jesus said, “whoever comes to me I will never cast out” (John 6:37). Make sure to run to Jesus, not away from Him. When you feel the worst is exactly the time you need to run to Him. Your internal picture of God may make you feel like running away. You may need some help to rebuild a healthy accurate internal picture of God.

Someone has said, “religion says, I messed up. My dad is going to kill me. The good news of the gospel says, I messed up; I better call my Dad.”

  1. How do You see my heart?

It’s unlikely you woke up one day and decided to mess up. You have a story. You’ve been sinned against, and you’ve also sinned. This has nothing to do with excuses; it’s about truth.

Jesus looks at your story with full honesty and deep compassion. He totally loves you, right now! You don’t have to work harder to clean yourself up in order for Him to love you; He just does. There’s nothing you can do that would make Him love you any more or any less.

And He also loves you too much to leave you in that condition.

Ask Him to show you how He sees your heart. He sees it all – good, bad, and ugly. He loves you even seeing all that. And His love makes possible the transformation you want and need.

  1. I make You my Lord once again

Whatever you try to hold onto will stay messed up. Jesus will only heal and transform where He is allowed in. Our internal allegiances need to be re-aligned, usually daily. If you’re struggling with time management, is Jesus Lord over your time? If you keep messing up sexually, have you made Him Lord over your sex life? Whatever it is, consecrate that part of you once again to Him – daily.

When Jesus is Lord the enemy loses his power. I learned this in my own journey, and for many years now I’ve experienced Jesus’ protection by daily pleading the blood of Jesus. You are not safe on your own.

You can pray every day, out loud, something like this: “Jesus, I need You today. I’m not safe or strong enough on my own. I once again for today make You the Lord of my life, and specifically the Lord of my (sex life, money, time, marriage, relationships, or whatever). I consecrate this part of my life to You once again for today. And I plead Your blood over my life today, my body, mind, and soul (and name whatever else concerns you). Amen.”

  1. What do You want me to do next?

The Christian life, including the process of transformation, is not something God just “zaps” you with; it’s something you work out together with Him. God works, and we work. (See Philippians 2:12-13). Asking for Jesus’ help and making Him the Lord of your life daily means you follow what He directs you to do. This isn’t about trying harder; it’s about following where He leads.

I’ve learned to often ask Jesus, “What step do You want me to take next?” If He is leading, then I must continually remind myself that I am following. I’m not frantically figuring something out and begging Him to bless it; I’m looking to where He is leading me.

Sometimes that next step He leads you to take is an internal one such as dealing with forgiveness, false beliefs, internal mental/emotional skills, etc. Sometimes that next step is an outward one such as taking a risk at His direction, speaking with someone, making a specific investment of time, energy, or resources, or doing something hard. And sometimes He just says, Be still!

And when you hear something from Him, just say Yes and do it.

  1. I’m just here with You

Our hurried culture makes it difficult to just be with Jesus. Our frantic brains struggle to slow down long enough to be present with Him, or with ourselves or others. If I am to hear His voice or experience the transformation He came to bring, I must learn to slow down long enough to just be with Him.

It’s in being with Jesus that you become changed. Your frantic efforts don’t change you; it’s being in His presence that changes you from the inside out.

This can come with a daily personal time with God. It’s important to bring your whole self to that time – your body, your emotions, your deepest self. You also need to be in His presence with others. There’s no shortcut.

These are important steps in how you Keep Showing Up and Keep Saying Yes. And you will become changed in the process.

Your Turn: What do your prayers sound like? Do you need to incorporate any of these aspects of how to pray when you keep messing up?  Leave a comment below.

Want More? In this week’s podcast Michele Cushatt talks about 10 powerful ways to build your faith even when everything seems to be falling apart.

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  • What do your prayers sound like? Yes, pray when you keep messing up. Start with “Jesus, HELP!” But there are also additional aspects to prayer that are so helpful.  Tweet that.

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