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A Prayer to Put Away Sinful Practices

Now therefore fear the LORD and serve him in sincerity and in faithfulness. Put away the gods that your fathers served beyond the River and in Egypt, and serve the LORD. And if it is evil in your eyes to serve the LORD, choose this day whom you will serve, whether the gods your fathers served in the region beyond the River, or the gods of the Amorites in whose land you dwell. But as for me and my house, we will serve the LORD.”—Joshua 24:14, 15

If we think of idolatry as referring only to worshipping pagan gods, we’ve missed an important bit of truth in our own walk with God. Ezekiel wrote that the people were “taking their idols into their hearts” (Ezekiel 14:4). Idolatry is a matter of mental images that we cling to, whether the aspirations of the flesh, or preoccupation with our own selfish ambition. To put it clearly, idolatry is nothing more than valuing something else more than we do God and our relationship to Him.

Joshua asked that the people put their idols behind them; in their case, that meant smashing the physical idols that they had brought with them. We should not be surprised that the people actually brought their “gods” with them from Egypt. False deities are actually empowered by demonic forces, and for this reason it’s difficult to break these occult attachments. Witness the difficulty of worshipers in Japan breaking with habit of worshipping their ancestors, or a Catholic’s inordinate preoccupation with a crucifix. Humans find it difficult to break attachments to physical objects, but mental idolatry is just as captivating and addictive. 

This week we will pray about smashing our idols, specifically habitual sins or addictions that hold many people captive to their own lusts and desires. Whether it is alcohol, sexual addictions, or drugs, these kinds of sins and others like them have great power over the human will. Human determination, though laudable, simply cannot break these bondages. 

Here is a bit of doggerel I memorized years ago:

The dearest idols I have known,
What ere those idols be
Help me to snatch them from the throne
And worship only thee.

The following is a warfare prayer that seeks to enlist God’s help and strength in the deepest crevices of the soul.        

Let Us Pray

Father, all of us are prone to idolatry; indeed, our minds are constantly manufacturing new idols; we are so prone to wonder from You. Today, we confess our sins; show us our idols, but also show us how destructive they are and how they grieve Your Spirit. We pray that we might “put away our idols” so that we might not repeat the same sins. Break the power of Satan on our behalf.

And now I pray for _____ , I pray that You will reveal their idols to them; show them Your hatred for sin, but also show them Your amazing grace. Like the rest of us, _____ is too weak to overthrow the idols of the heart. We are all bound by the cords of sin, trying to manage it rather than breaking free of it. Today, we take authority over the enemy of our souls.

Lord, we are desperate for Your deliverance. Show us what we must do to put away our idols and then grant us the grace to do it. Like Israel of old, let us take the idols we’ve hidden, expose them, and then throw them at Your feet to be smashed forever. We trust Your Spirit to do this in us for Your glory.

In Jesus’ name, Amen.

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