Gambling: Don’t Bet On ItErwin W. Lutzer | May 23, 1999
Selected highlights from this sermon
Gambling is evil. It is a blight upon our families, and it is crippling our communities. Americans are bombarded by temptations to fritter away their money. Sadly, many churches have stopped opposing this destructive force in our society.
The good news is that we can be free of gambling—and all addictions. We can be set free by the truth that Jesus can be the substitute for our addictive desires.
Perhaps you heard about the pastor whose church was in debt, and he was praying about how it might be met. And he began to dream everything in triplicate. Everything came in threes. As a matter of fact, as he sat down at the table he somehow noticed that even the dishes were organized like triangles—like a trinity. And he began to think, “God, You’re trying to say something to me, but I don’t know what it is.” He went to the door and found the newspaper and noticed that it was the three-star edition. He opened it to the third page, the third column, and noticed that the topic was horse racing. And he thought to himself, “You know, maybe God is in this somehow,” and as he read he noticed that the third horse mentioned was Trio. Now he knew for sure, so he got his board together and he convinced them to liquidate all of their assets so that they could finally win some money, and they put it all on Trio. Well, you probably already guessed it. Trio came in third. (laughter)
Now, you know, we smile at this story, but it does bring to mind two important concepts. First of all, that gambling is something that is a temptation to everyone, that could be a temptation to pastors as well as to parishioners. Gambling is widespread. Secondly, it seems that in gambling, someone else always wins. You’re not the one who wins. Someone else does. Gambling, of course, is taking that which is of value, usually money, and through chance, hoping that it will produce greater value—more money.
As you know, this is a series of messages titled Seven Snares of the Enemy, and as a result of that we are looking today at gambling which, of course, is a snare that millions and millions of people in our society have fallen into. This message is intended to answer four questions.
The first question is, “Why should we be concerned about it anyway?” I mean, after all, can’t people do with their own money whatever they want? If they want to gamble it away, it’s their money. Let them. Why preach on the topic?
There’s a second question and that is, “Is gambling a sin, or is it only a habit that potentially could be bad? Or is it actually a sin? There is no eleventh commandment that says, “Thou shall not gamble,” and so people have said that maybe it isn’t that bad. Maybe it’s something that we can do. In fact, there are churches that do it from time to time.
The third issue that we’re going to discuss is we’re going to take a brief tour into the mind of an addict, and look at the world through his set of glasses.
And then finally we’re going to answer the question, “Is there a way out for those who are addicted to gambling, or for that matter, what is the way out for any addiction that might be spoken about today?”
The first question: Why bother? My dear friends, I want you to know that the effect of gambling on our families and on our society is devastating. Did you know that children today are targeted? And according to one report, about two-thirds of teens have gambled. In Massachusetts 47% of seventh graders have played the lottery. Also, among those students, one in twenty has been arrested because of gambling related charges.
Gambling, as we shall learn, never happens in isolation. It always brings with it a cluster of other sins. For some it might be alcoholism. For some it might be despair. For others it might be suicide, but very seldom does gambling ever act alone. What we also find is, for example, in Michigan 45% of male college athletes admit to gambling on sports. Many people were surprised when it happened at Northwestern University, but that actually is a microcosm on what is going on throughout the whole country, because gambling has become such a deep part of our society. Students are gambling their tuition, gambling their allowance. Gambling, gambling, gambling!
Christianity Today had an article on “Gambling Away the Golden Years,” speaking about how casinos are deliberately seducing and targeting the elderly. For example, some are giving $25 worth of coins free if you just show up, with the knowledge that among those who come, there will be others who will finally be hooked, which is what the gambling industry so desperately, desperately wants.
Pat Fowler, the Executive Director of the Florida Council on Compulsive Gambling says, “Who else will pick you up and take you to an engagement in an exciting activity in a safe environment, give you lunch, call you by name, and make you feel important?” Casinos have 50% discounts on many things that they sell, and even on drugs for seniors, that is, prescription drugs, if only they gamble in their casino.
Literally millions and millions of seniors are being bussed to casinos, particularly on Sundays. One casino has a card that people use to keep track of their wins and losses so that they can reward you if you’ve made many, many investments.
The lure of gambling! Did you know that the gamblers are not subject to truth in advertising like other companies? They can say pretty well whatever they wish. Let’s go to the south side of Chicago. There was an ad which ran that said, “This could be your ticket out of the ghetto.” A number of years ago our mayor had an ethics commission to study the feasibility of gambling, and I had the opportunity to speak to that commission. I pled with those men, saying to them, “Look, why appeal to the very basest of all motives in order to pay taxes?” I said, “I don’t gamble, but I should be paying my fair share of taxes. It isn’t right that other people are going to be paying more than I because I do not gamble and they do.” And there was an alderman present who said that on the days when the Social Security checks arrive, and on the days when you have the checks coming in—the paychecks, “$100,000 (and now he’s speaking from Chicago’s south side) flows out of my community, a community that can least afford it.” Money that should be used for clothes and tuition and food and rent is being gambled away.
You know, of course, that the government used to just tolerate gambling. There were certain laws. They tolerated it, and now we live in a society in which the government is taking the lead. We’d be surprised if the government would take the lead in the pornography business and say, “Now, we’re into pornography to raise the level of revenue in the state,” and yet they are into gambling, and the effects are essentially the same and just as devastating. As a result, in 1997 (That’s just a couple of years ago.) Americans lost fifty billion dollars in legal gambling, primarily casinos, of course, and also in the lottery. Fifty billion dollars!
About four percent of Americans are addicted to gambling. Millions upon millions upon millions gamble, but about four percent are addicted. Gambling is a parasite that feeds on a community. It destroys. It debilitates. It appeals to the most base of all motives. Yes, we have to be concerned, and as individuals and as a church we can do something about it. And the gambling industry is shocked that they are not hearing anything from the churches. The church that used to stand against gambling now is silent. Listen to what is happening even in our own state legislature these days. You find opposition coming only from those groups that say it should be in our community. Where are the voices who say, “This is wrong?” This is wrong! Of course we should be concerned.
Let me give you another reason, and by the way, the statistics and the information could go on endlessly. I’ve had to cut this message down, and pare it down, so that we could get it all in today.
Secondly, is gambling a sin? Is it a sin or is it only a potentially harmful habit? The New Roman Catholic Encyclopedia says that it is not a sin. It’s a sin only if it is inconsistent with your duties and obligations. And so, as you know, in many churches today, there is gambling, and gambling becomes a means of revenue, and people accept it, and they say, “Well, it’s fine because it’s fun, and it doesn’t hurt anybody as long as you don’t get into it too deeply.” So is it a sin? I prefer to agree with Augustine who said, “The devil invented gambling.” And that could be true because the devil took the first gamble, as it were, against God, thinking that he would receive more than he would as God’s servant, so he became God’s enemy. And the results, of course, were disastrous.
Let me give you four biblical principles that are violated by gambling. The first is the biblical work ethic. The biblical work ethic! You have to understand the gambling industry derives and depreciates and actually is… What shall we say? It takes work and it turns it into something that the gambling industry thinks should be derided and demeaned.
Listen to this advertisement in Massachusetts. It says, “There are two options on how to make millions. Plan A: Start studying when you are seven years old real hard, get a good job, get up early each day, crush the competition, climb over your co-workers, be the last one to leave every night, avoid having a premature heart attack. By the time you are ready to retire you should have your money.” That’s Plan A. Plan B: Play the lottery.” Fat chance! Those are my words, by the way. Fat chance was not part of the advertisement.
Now let me simply say this, friends, and I pour out my heart to you today. This is a disaster. It’s an unscriptural disaster. Listen to what the Bible says about work. “In the name of the Lord Jesus Christ, we command you, brothers, to keep away from every brother who is idle and does not live according to the teaching you receive from us, for you yourselves know how you ought to follow our example. We were not idle when we were with you, nor did we eat anyone’s food without paying for it. On the contrary we worked night and day, laboring and toiling so that we would not be a burden to any of you. We did this not because we do not have the right to such help, but in order to make ourselves a model for you to follow, for even when we were with you we gave you this rule. If a man will not work, he shall not eat. We hear that some among you are idle. They are not busy. They are busy bodies. Such people we command and urge in the Lord Jesus Christ to settle down and earn the bread they eat. And as for you brothers, never tire of doing what is right.”
What the Bible says is that work is a gift and it is commanded. Now biblically there are other ways that you can earn money. There is, first of all, work. There is inheritance. There are investments. And there is a gift. Those are the only legitimate ways. All others would be excluded from that. And please don’t call gambling an investment. It does not have the qualities to be able to call it that.
Do you know what gambling really is? It is stealing by mutual consent. You say, “Well, yes, but they are consenting to it.” But just because they are consenting to it doesn’t make it right. You don’t take money from others and then give it all to one person. That is not biblical. You are supposed to be motivated by a day’s pay by a day’s work, and that opulent life that the gambling industry tends to paint is worldly and just plain wrong.
First of all, gambling is contrary to the biblical work ethic. Secondly, it violates the principle of stewardship. You see, the Bible is very clear about the fact that all that we have has been God-given.
Do you remember that parable of the man who went to the king who went out and gave all of his servants a mina? That’s a talent of money. And then it says he sent for the servants to whom he had given the money in order to find out what they had gained with it. The first one came and said, “Sir, your mina has earned ten more.” And he said, “Well done, my good servant.” His master replied, “Because you have been trustworthy in a very small matter, take charge of ten cities.”
The second came and said, “Sir, your mina has earned five more.” He said, “You take charge of five cities.” Then another servant came and said, “Sir, here is your mina. I have kept it and laid it away in a piece of cloth. I was afraid of you because you are a hard man. You take out what you did not put in, and reap what you did not sow.” And so he gave the one talent or mina that he had been given back to him. Listen to what the master replied: “I will judge you by your own words, you wicked servant. You knew (Did you not?) that I am a hard man, taking out what I did not put in, and reaping where I did not sow? Why then didn’t you put my money on deposit so that when I came back I could have collected it with interest?”
Now, folks, I want you to think about this parable in this way. Here is a man who was very strongly rebuked by the king for just giving back what he had been given. The king said, “Why didn’t you use it to earn more money for me?” Imagine what the king would have said if this man would have said, “I lost the one mina that you gave me because I never even hid it in the dirt. I gambled it in the lottery.” (chuckles) My friend, you are responsible to God for your money. Who of us wants to stand before the Lord, having lost it because we gambled it away? And this, by the way, is very, very important.
A number of years ago a man called me from the hospital. He had been hospitalized. He was a well-known Christian leader. If I mentioned his name many of you would know him. And he called to say that when he was in the hospital his wife discovered something. He had been secretly gambling, primarily the lottery, and some casinos, and he had racked up (Catch this now.) $30,000 worth of debt on credit cards. And he had been hiding it from his wife. But because he was in the hospital and the creditors began to call and the bills began to come in, he had to confess to her his terrible snare, that awful, awful secret.
Now this is a Christian man. He’s a Christian leader. Imagine him standing before the Lord, and the Lord saying, “What did you do with all that I gave you? This was my money. This is not your money.” And he has to say, “I gambled it all away and we have to sell our house in order to pay our debts, and here we are facing retirement with nothing.” Tragedy! Double tragedy for a Christian!
You know, this, by the way, I think is the answer finally to that question people always ask. They say, “Well, you know, I do it but I’m not addicted to it. I buy two lottery tickets a week, and that’s all I buy.” “I go to Las Vegas once a year,” a friend of mine says. “I take $1,500 or $2,000 with me, and if I blow all that, then I come back. And blow all that they do. You did hear, did you not, about the man who went to Las Vegas in a $30,000 Cadillac and came back in a $300,000 Greyhound bus? (laughter) That’s the story of many of those folks. But they say, “I’m not addicted. I just spend so much and it’s fun, and that’s the end of it.”
My dear friend… I know that there are millions of people who fall into that category, but that money that you have “quote” fun with, that’s God’s money, too. I believe that gambling is wrong in principle. In principle it is wrong, and it is only a matter of degree. It’s a matter of amount, but in kind it still is the same. Gambling God’s money is still gambling and contrary to stewardship.
Third, it violates the principle of being satisfied with God’s provision. You see, God has given us certain gifts. He’s given us certain challenges. He’s given us certain ways to get money, and as we begin to think about His provision Paul says, “My God will supply all of your need according to His riches in glory by Christ Jesus.”
You see, the problem is, if I might be clear here, gambling appeals to greed. It is what Bill Hybels calls the “monster of the more.” Give me more! Give me more! It’s the itch to be rich, and that’s what drives people. People would never gamble just for a few dollars, but as the stakes go high (and by the way, the gambling industry knows that in order for them to keep everybody pumped they have to sometimes have such things as a Powerball lottery that will go to a couple hundred million dollars, then people just lose all sense of reality and they begin to purchase tickets by the hundreds of thousands per minute throughout the United States. And they are doing that because people aren’t satisfied with winning a couple million any more. It has to be 250 or 290 million, like one of those Powerballs.
My dear friend, that is contrary to everything that we find in the Scriptures, and the Bible warns about the desire to be rich, and you can take the message that I preached last time on greed, and all of its implications, and you can put it right here under this point.
Could I say also, number four, it violates the principle of God’s providence? You see, God’s providence governs our lives. We are not governed by chance, by the roll of the dice, by the twirl of a wheel. You say, “Well, yes, of course, God could govern the way the dice turns out most assuredly.” In fact, some people justify gambling because in the Scriptures they sometimes cast lots. But let me be very clear that the casting of the lot had to do with a decision that had to be made. Whether it was point A or point B it had nothing to do with getting money that didn’t belong to you. I can assure you of that.
My dear friend, the whole principle of chance… Let me talk about chance for a moment. So many gamblers misunderstand this. Do you know what they think? They think that the longer they play the lottery, the better chance they have to win. Now, of course, if you buy more tickets in a particular lottery you have a better chance of winning than if you buy few. That’s certainly true, but once that drawing has been made and the next one starts, you do not have a better chance than anyone else who is just beginning the spiral of gambling. Your odds are not any better. I’ve heard people say, “Well, you know, I’ve been gambling now for 30 years and I figure that it should be my turn.”
Well, let’s look at the possibility of it being your turn. Let’s look at yesterday’s newspaper. Ultimately the factor that determines whether odds are acceptable is risk versus reward. The chances of winning the Illinois lottery in which six winning numbers must be picked from a grid of 52 are one in 20,358,520. Now the odds, if you’re going to play the Powerball, is one in 76 million. You say, “Well, you know God could control it so that I could win.” My dear friend, I hope that He doesn’t let you win, because you know what that means. It means somebody else loses. (chuckles) As a matter of fact, He couldn’t possibly control it so that everybody would win. That’s contrary to the whole gambling philosophy. He couldn’t possible control it so that it would be beneficial to everyone because, you see, the whole idea of gambling is that there are some people who give their money in order that you might be rich. Do they give it gladly? Do they give it as a gift and say, “Oh, you know, we just like that person in Virginia so much that we’re going to spend $3,000 on power ball?” No, they’re greedy. They are grudgingly giving because they want it.
The Bible is clear that our lives are not up to, you know, the turn of a dice, or the twirl of a wheel. We believe in God’s providence, in God’s provision.
How can I summarize all of this except to quote Proverbs 12:11? “He who works his land will have food but (Catch this now), he who chases fantasies lacks judgment.” And that’s what gambling is. It is the chasing of fantasies.
Now let’s take a little bit of time and let’s look at life through the eyes of a gambler. And I’m talking now about an addicted gambler, and what I have to say is going to apply to all addictions. And when we talk about alcoholism, as we will next time, and sexual addictions, we’re going to have to repeat some of this, but also take it just a little bit further.
You’ll never understand an addict unless you realize that his particular addiction gives him a mood change. He actually begins to see things differently, and it’s the mood that he wants to recreate. Somebody’s gambling on a football game, and he believes that his team is going to win by six points. He puts a lot of money on it because he thinks to himself, “If I win, just think. It’ll justify gambling. I’ll be able to pay my mortgage finally,” and all the excitement that’s leading up to the game is his euphoria. It is almost like a trance for the addicted gambler.
Now, remember this also. At that point he begins to build all kinds of protective devices around himself so that he will not have to change his lifestyle. He begins to shape the truth. He begins to lie. Over here he begins to borrow because he’s losing money, and yet, he must at all times maintain the possibility of that euphoria. The thought of going without it is to him incredible, and no one knows the extent and the urgency of the need that he has for that experience.
And now we come to something very important. He begins to use, you see, gambling as being something that he can depend upon. His friends won’t be there for him. His church won’t be there for him. His wife won’t. His kids won’t, but thank God, there is that bottle that will always be there, or there is that gambling, or there is that pornography. It will always be there, and he can always count on his high. But as he uses these objects to satisfy him, what he begins to do is to use people the very same way that he uses those objects. They are there to be manipulated. They are there so that they fall in line with the way in which he views the world. And by now, he’s beginning to see all of reality with a bent lens, and that’s why you can’t argue with him. I mean, you can, but you don’t get anywhere. It’s because the way in which he sees the world now is permanently changed apart from some miraculous deliverance. He believes that no one understands him. He believes that life with all of its difficulties (his difficulties) are the fault of someone else. He believes that everyone else around him should really exist to help him to get that euphoria, and that’s really the purpose and the sense of fulfillment in life that he pursues.
Now, what happens, of course, is that every time he is into this, the cycle of despair comes again and again. He has his euphoric experience, but then there is sadness because he loses his bet, or he sobers up or whatever. And the despair is deeper, and now he’s already been alienated from people, but there’s only thing that can help him. Only one thing, and that is to have that euphoric experience again.
By now his friends have cut him off so he drifts into his isolation into that trance world, and he goes from the world of trance to the world of reality, and he finds that he can go back and forth, though ultimately he spends more time in the world of euphoria than he does in the world of reality, and pretty soon there’s only one thing that matters—only one, and that is the next fix, and he’s addicted. And you can’t help him with argument. You can’t go there, armed with this information and say, “Read this book on gambling and then you’ll change.” The facts are irrelevant.
I was trying to think of an illustration that would be like glasses that cut out all color. All that you see is black and white. So you, of course, who live in the real world, see greens and yellows and reds, and you say to him, “Can’t you tell the difference between red and green? Notice it!” He doesn’t see it. He doesn’t see it. For him it does not exist, and his world of reality is shaped and skewed and it will not be changed until there is radical deliverance. And how does that come about?
I want you to take your Bibles for just a moment and turn to one of the most amazing passages that Jesus gives to us. I read the Bible, of course, regularly, and I’m constantly amazed at how accurate the Scripture is. You know, those of you who are skeptics out there, who think that the Bible isn’t the Word of God, its analysis of human nature is so breathtakingly accurate. It says in John 8, and I’m picking it up in verse 31): “So Jesus said to the Jews who had believed him, ‘If you abide in my word, you are truly my disciples, and you will know the truth, and (notice this) the truth will set you free.’ They answered him, ‘We are offspring of Abraham and have never been enslaved to anyone. How is it that you say, “You will become free?” Jesus answered them, ‘Truly, truly, I say to you, everyone who practices sin is a slave to sin. The slave does not remain in the house forever; the son remains forever. So if the Son sets you free, you will be free indeed.’”
I speak to those of you who are addicted not just to gambling but other kinds of addictions, and of course, there are levels of addiction. I speak to all of us. How are we set free? First of all, we are set free by the truth. That’s why the experts will say, “You can’t change a gambler and you can’t change an alcoholic until he bottoms out, until reality sets in and he has to admit something that he has not been willing to admit (all the lies that have been built around him, all the manipulation to get money, all the stories, all the promises to reform, which he’s used a thousand times, and of course, it’s never helped).”
What is the truth that he needs to know? First of all, he needs to know that he is indeed a servant and not a master. If you commit sin, you are the servant of sin. Servants don’t wake up in the morning and say, “I’m going to tell the master what to do.” No, the servant does whatever the master says. If the master says, “Drink,” the servant drinks. If he says, “Gamble,” the servant gambles, because what he has to do is to realize that he is no longer in control. He is simply doing what his desires now dictate, and they drive him in this world of oblivion and isolation and moral darkness. And he has to admit that.
You say, “Well, yeah, how do you get them to admit it?” Oftentimes all that you can do is wait, and then stop being an enabler. You know an enabler is somebody who lies for the alcoholic. An enabler is somebody who gives money to the gambler so that he can continue his gambling. And an enabler is somebody who is willing to accept these people without rebuke, you see, and so you encourage them in their misbehavior. Sometimes what you have to do is withdraw lovingly and pray and ask God to bring them to the point of reality. This is a painful thing for addicts to do, absolutely painful, because it has to shatter all the lies and the shell in which they are living. And what do they have to admit? They have to admit that they are hooked, that they are servants and not masters, that indeed they need divine help.
Seneca cried, “Oh, that a hand would come out of heaven and deliver me from my besetting sin.” That’s a second thing they have to learn, that Jesus Christ has to now be the substitute for their addiction. It’s a very difficult (What shall we say?) chasm for them to get over because remember that their addiction promises everything that Christ does. The reason they get into it is because of the natural desire that all of us have for happiness, the natural desire that all of us have for fulfillment, and these are the things that the addiction promised. You’ll be rich, you’ll be happy and you’ll have that euphoric experience. And so all of the things that the Scripture promises are promised by the addiction. And what we need to realize is that all those promises are flawed and they are lies. As a matter of fact, for every euphoric experience there are going to be a thousand trips to despair. They need to understand that and open their lives to the one who is able (to Christ) who now becomes the substitute, Christ who is able to forgive them so that that shame (Can you imagine the shame? That’s why it’s so secretive.) is taken away, and so that He can speak you clean, and He can say, “Thou art forgiven.”
“And if the blood of bulls and goats and the ashes of a heifer sprinkling to the unclean sanctified to the purifying of the flesh, how much more shall the blood of Christ, who through the eternal spirit offered Himself without spot to God, purge your conscience from dead works to serve the living God?” His conscience is cleansed.
And I urge you, those of you who are bound, to come to Christ. You say, “Well, Pastor Lutzer, yeah, but I’m so bound, I don’t know that I can.” Come bound, but come. You don’t have to clean yourself up before you come to Jesus. You don’t have to say no to the bottle before you come to Jesus. You don’t have to say no to gambling before you come to Jesus. You come as a gambler. You come as an alcoholic, but you come because “if the Son therefore shall make you free, you shall be free indeed.” There is a hand from heaven that has come.
After that, of course, what is necessary is accountability because the temptations will come again and again and again, and when the desire arises somebody has to be there for you to say, “No, you do not have to do this.” And then, of course, there’s acceptance of a whole new lifestyle, the acceptance of debt. The plan has to be worked out whereby the money that has been gambled away and the debts that have been incurred somehow need to be paid. And you need somebody to help you through the process, because that’s actually going to be the means then by which you finally understand and accept your new way of life.
You say, “But Pastor Lutzer, it is so, so hard.” For some people, the very thought of leaving this world behind with its mood swings and its euphoria, the very thought of saying no to it and saying yes to Jesus, is difficult. But don’t let the difficulty stop you from coming to the one who can make you free indeed, the Scripture says.
I find it very ironic that sometime ago in our newspapers, as you well know (this was national news of great sort), a group of senior citizens were on a bus that overturned on the way to a casino. You remember the story. I think over twenty were killed. And the headline in the newspaper that we are getting at our home these days said this: “Gambling bus overturns.” And as I looked at that I thought, “Well, here are 22 people who did not know… They thought they were on their way to a casino. They did not know that they were on their way to eternity. It dawned on me and I wondered how many of them, since they were gamblers, were gambling with their souls.
Jesus said on one occasion, “What shall it profit you if you gain the world but lose your own soul?” Imagine winning the Powerball lottery. What was it? 295 million dollars? But at some point your bus is going to overturn. If the bus isn’t going to get you, cancer is going to get you. And if it’s not cancer, it’s going to be heart disease. And if not heart disease, it’s going to be tuberculosis. Or if you live in Chicago somebody is going to shoot you. (laughter) Something is going to happen. I don’t know if that was funny or not. (laughter) If you gain the world but lose your own soul, of what profit is it? What profit is it to you?
Jesus said, “If the Son shall make you free, you shall be free indeed.” There are some of you listening to this message who need to pray, but you also need to go to somebody. You need to go to those from whom you have been hiding this addiction, to whom you have lied. You need to be so desperate that you need to come out from under the shadows, and you come to the one who is able to forgive you and cleanse you, and the people of God who are able to help you and to say, “It’s time for you to walk on a new path because your view of reality has been so skewed. You have to accept truth, the truth of the world and the truth of Christ. I urge you to come to Him.
And if you would, let us pray.
Father, as we look out over the congregation only You know the people to whom this message was specifically targeted, because we don’t know who those are who buy lottery tickets, who are involved in casinos or a hundred different other forms of gambling, gambling on the Internet, many of whom are racking up debts, and some of whom have won something, and it’s only made their plunge into gambling greater. We pray today that You will help Your people to come clean. And for those who do not know Christ as Savior, Father, living in their despair and their shame and their loneliness, may they come to Him that they, too, might be set free, and that Jesus might be the replacement for their gambling habit.
Now you talk to God in whatever way in which He has talked to you. Whatever He has talked to you about, you talk to Him right now.
Father, please set Your people free from these snares. Please, Lord, we ask because we know the despair and the loneliness. We’ve talked to them. We know the devastation of family. We know the debts. God help us we pray in Jesus’ name. Amen.