This principle is quite contrary to our conventional wisdom. Most of us think the time to praise God for the victory is after we’ve experienced it. We think we can thank Him only for a completed work in our lives. That’s what Insight’s magazine anguished correspondent believed in this letter.
” Somewhere a vital link in the chain of becoming a Christian is missing for me–has anyone who has trod the road ahead found the answer–the really workable solution that results, at the close of the day, in triumphant, heartfelt praise to such a Friend who could do so much for you? What a change that would be! I’m all for “victory to victory,” but HOW?
Whoever wrote these words felt they couldn’t praise God till the end of the day, after they had experienced victory. Only triumphant praise would do. However, I propose that one of the most vital “links in the chain of becoming a Christian” that was missing in this person’s life is precisely what I’m sharing with you–Praising God for the victory before gaining the victory.
Praise, of course, is a form of prayer, so what I’m suggesting is a particular way to pray. Here is the prayer:
God, I thank You that the victory over this temptation is already mine in Christ Jesus. I claim it.
If your particular temptation is with food, then you should say, “God, I thank You that victory over this food is already mine in Christ Jesus. I claim it.” If your struggling with inappropriate sexual fantasies, you can say, “God, I thank You that victory over lust is already mine in Christ Jesus. I claim it.” If it’s anger, you can say, “God, I thank You that victory over this bad temper is already mine in Christ Jesus. I claim it.”
There’s a very good reason why this is such a powerful prayer: It’s an expression of faith. Jesus said, “Whatever you ask for in prayer, believe that you have received it, and it will be yours” (Mark 11:24). Nowhere does this promise apply with greater force than to spiritual issues such as our struggle with temptation.
A number of years ago I listened to a set of eight of ten tapes by a “success motivation” speaker. One of the things he stressed over and over was the importance of believing in ourselves. He suggested, for example, that when we are confronted with stressful situation, we should form a mental picture of ourselves coming out on top. Thomas Edison believed he could make a light bulb, and therefore he did.
You and I exercise that same kind of belief when we praise God for the victory before gaining the victory. We begin to get a mental image of ourselves succeeding, and we do succeed.
However, there’s a far more important reason than success motivation strategies and believing in ourselves that explains why this is such an effective strategy for overcoming sin. This prayer places our faith if God. Righteousness is by faith. We’ve already learned in this book that, because we have no righteousness to offer to God, He attributes Christ’s righteousness to us and counts us as perfect even though our characters are still very flawed. That’s a legal transaction we call justification.
I’m now telling you that sanctification–our victory over sin–is also by faith. We will learn that in our own strength, you and I are powerless to overcome our cherished sins and addictions. We need outside help, and that help comes from God. When we praise God for the victory before gaining the victory we’re saying to God, in essence, “I believe Your promise of help with this temptation is real, and I believe it’s for me. I’m claiming it. Devil, get out of the way!”
The strategy of praising God for the victory before we gain the victory is crucial to our victory, it really does work!
So try it. I know it’ll work for you too!