2 Key Things to Pray When Tempted


I yelled at my wife. I know. I know! Please forgive me.

We were trying to sell something on Facebook marketplace. My wife was the mediator & I was the delivery man. After a couple major miscommunications I was frustrated. Temptation was crouching at my door. Clearly, I missed the mark & in my anger, I sinned. [See James 1:13-16]

Where did I go wrong? Well, for starters, the obvious. I shouldn’t have yelled at my wife. I shouldn’t have taken it out on here. Period. [Note: I did apologize to her & acknowledge my sin against her. I did ask for forgiveness from the Lord as well.]

We’ve all been here. Well, maybe not as boneheaded as I to yell at the love of your life, but, tempted I mean. The Bible specifically conveys that temptation is common to man (and woman). However, it is very clear from the Scriptures that we are taught to resist temptation & not sin.

Back to the question I asked myself, “Where did I go wrong?” One thing that I neglected to do was pray. There are times when things happen so fast we simply don’t think to pray. Frankly, this is a lame excuse. I should have prayed.

Please understand that prayer does NOT always have to be lengthy or time consuming. Let’s make that abundantly clear because in my context I could have taken 60 seconds to stop & pray (whether in my head or out loud).

But what should I have prayed? What do you pray when you are tempted?

My first thought – strength. In fact, my usual prayer when I’m tempted is to ask for strength to resist the temptation. Noble, right? Maybe it is your initial thought as well.

Am I saying it is wrong to pray for strength when we are tempted? Of course not. But I do offer this thought: Scripturally, we are given other instructions on how we are to pray when we are tempted.

Here are the 2 things I would encourage us to make our default prayer when we are experiencing temptation: wisdom & submission.

James 1:1-6

“Consider it pure joy, my brothers & sisters, whenever you face trials of many kinds, because you know that the testing of your faith produces perseverance. Let perseverance finish its work so that you may be mature & complete, not lacking anything. If any of you lacks wisdom, you should ask God, who gives generously to all without finding fault, & it will be given to you. But when you ask, you must believe & not doubt, because the one who doubts is like a wave of the sea, blown & tossed by the wind.”

The word used as trials is translated as temptations in some other versions, and James instructs us to pray (or ask God) for wisdom. “Why wisdom?” you might ask. James goes further in his letter as to why, but we need wisdom to know how God is “providing a way out” [See 1 Corinthians 10:13] for us so that we can “endure it”.

Here’s a quick way to pray: “God, your Word says you’ll provide a way out for me so that I can endure this temptation - grant me this wisdom to know what it is & your guidance so I may not sin against you.”

James 4:7-10

Submit yourselves, then, to God. Resist the devil, and he will flee from you. Come near to God & he will come near to you. Wash your hands, you sinners, and purify your hearts, you double-minded. Grieve, mourn & wail. Change your laughter to mourning & your joy to gloom. Humble yourselves before the Lord, and he will lift you up.

The temptations we experience are usually strong & we set ourselves up for failure when we think ourselves stronger. Instead, humble yourself, submit yourselves to God, and rely on Him to help you resist.

Here’s a quick way to pray: “God, I humble myself before you. I surrender to your Holy Spirit. I draw near to you. Help me resist this temptation as I choose to rely on you & not myself.”

Note: Scripture adamantly tells us to “flee from sexual immorality”. It is the same Greek word used (“flee”) from our text in James 4. The same way we want the devil to flee from us we should flee from sexual immorality. I’d suggest you act first (as in the act of fleeing from it), then you can pray for wisdom & submission to avoid it.