Resolution or Repetition
"You will know the truth, and the truth will set you free."1
A man whose wife has separated from him desperately wants to know how to get his prayer answered and get his wife back. His prayer is that God will save his marriage from divorce and restore his family.
Good prayer? Maybe.
Here's the catch. This man has been unfaithful to his wife—repeatedly.
My answer: "Dear George (name changed): The way to get prayer answered is to pray the right prayer. By that I mean, the most effective prayer you can pray right now after you have confessed your sins and received God's forgiveness, is to pray for truth. As the Bible says, 'The Lord is near to all who call on Him, to all who call on Him in truth.'2
"While praying for God to save your marriage is very important, before you do this, you need to ask God to confront you with the truth about yourself and to show you the deeper cause/s for your infidelity and adulterous behavior. You have to want to face this truth with all your heart (and resolve your problem at this level); otherwise you will keep running from it—and keep acting it out in further adulteries—and drive your wife farther away from you.
"God is more interested in healing you at this deeper level right now than your getting your wife back. Why is this? If you don't get healed at this deeper level, you will undoubtedly keep committing the same sins and failing—no matter how noble your intentions. It's resolution or repetition.
"The reality is that we either resolve the cause (or causes) of our problems or we keep repeating them. We fall ... we feel terrible ... we confess ... we promise God we will never do this thing again if he will forgive us just one more time. We fall again ... we feel worse ... we confess ... we promise God we will never do this thing again if He will forgive us just one more time. We fall again ... and again ... and again ... same prayer ... same results. As the old saying about insanity goes, we keep doing the same thing or praying the same prayer and expect different results!
"Why? Because we're praying the wrong prayer. We focus on the symptom/s instead of facing head-on the cause/s of our behavior.
"It is imperative that you pray for God to confront you with the truth about yourself and why you commit this sin and keep failing. You will need to want this with all your heart as it can be very painful to break through the defenses you have built to avoid facing your inner pain. Because your failure is a habitual sin (and quite possibly an addiction), I also urge you to get capable, professional Christian counseling to help you work through and resolve your problem.
"You probably don't realize this right now but your wife leaving you is God's wake–up call for you to get into recovery. And if you pray the right prayer, God will hear and answer your prayer.
"Tough words I know but as Jesus said, only the truth will set you free."
Suggested prayer (for one and all): "Dear God please help me to know how to pray the right prayer in all situations and to always be honest with myself and with You. Thank You that when I pray this way, You always hear and answer my prayer. Gratefully in Jesus's name, amen."
1. John 8:32 (NIV).
2. Psalm 145:18 (NIV).