The Prime Time for Temptation
“Then Jesus was led by the Spirit into the wilderness to be tempted by the devil. After fasting forty days and forty nights, he was hungry. The tempter came to him and said, ‘If you are the Son of God, tell these stones to become bread.’” Matthew 4:1-3 (NIV)
My mind had just traveled down an all-too-familiar path. Absently wandering onto it while chopping vegetables for dinner, I felt frustrated with myself for traversing it again.
Ever since third grade, when a popular boy gave me a compliment, I have used fantasy as a soothing escape in lonely moments. Fantasies of the PG variety, like the pretty romances of Hallmark Channel movies. Nothing too bad, I convinced myself. Just myriad replays of real interactions or imagined meetings, when a Prince Charming would affirm, rescue or comfort me.
Standing in my kitchen, contemplating an unsolicited yet flattering social media message, I ended up much further down the path than usual. In a few seconds, I was reveling in a lovely future with a stranger I had seen only in a tiny avatar picture.
But God met me on that imaginary path. He reminded me I had recently surrendered this 30-year-old thought pattern to Him in my quest to heal from past hurts.
Even though my fantasy world was known only to Him, it had potential to be quite dangerous. My fantasies tempt me to find comfort in perfect mental images rather than in the presence of the living God.
As shame pressed down on my shoulders, Jesus lifted it off. He brought to my mind scenes from His own temptation. I realized the devil didn’t attack Him as soon as He entered the wilderness. Instead, Satan waited for the prime time, when Jesus was hungry after forty days of fasting.
“Then Jesus was led by the Spirit into the wilderness to be tempted by the devil. After fasting forty days and forty nights, he was hungry. The tempter came to him and said, ‘If you are the Son of God, tell these stones to become bread’” (Matthew 4:1-3).
Satan knows our prime time for temptation, when we are most vulnerable to his attacks. Loneliness has keened in my spirit in the late afternoons for three decades. It first crept in when I was a latchkey kid, coming home to an empty house and waiting for family to fill it back up. Now, this same lonely time weakens me before my family rejoins for dinner. In my prime time for temptation, I’m often hungrier for relationship than for the meal I’m preparing.
God gently comforted me when I acknowledged the loneliness underneath my fantasy. For the thousandth time, He promised to never leave me nor forsake me, and peace flooded my spirit. Then He showed me a few practical ways to guard my heart against Satan’s attacks. I pray these methods help you too.
- Listen to praise music. I enjoy listening to music while I cook. Love songs set the stage for fantasies, but praise and worship music points me toward Jesus’ embrace.
- Meditate on Scripture. I display Scripture memory cards in my kitchen. When a tempting thought enters my mind, I glance over at them and speak God’s Word out loud. Jesus fought Satan’s temptation with Scripture, and we can defeat Satan with the same method.
- Send up arrow prayers. When I realize I’m stuck on a destructive fantasy path, I cry out, “Help me, Lord!” This arrow prayer breaks the allure of fantasy, brings me back into the present and gets me running back into Jesus’ arms.
If you struggle with fantasies in your thought life, God is ready and eager to deliver you. He wants to be your Comforter instead of those picture-perfect images. Our fantasy lives will never fully satisfy our cravings for relationships. Only God can perfectly fill all our needs. He is faithful to meet us in our weaknesses and strengthen us with His presence.
Today, ask God to reveal your prime time of temptation. Invite Him into that space, and He will help you resist the devil’s attacks in your thought life.
Heavenly Father, I surrender my thought life to You. Please reveal the fantasies I’m using for false comfort. I want to choose Your loving presence in my life instead of worthless mental images. I trust that You will provide for all my needs and help me resist the devil. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.
TRUTH FOR TODAY:
Matthew 26:41, “Watch and pray so that you will not fall into temptation. The spirit is willing, but the flesh is weak.” (NIV)
2 Corinthians 10:5, “We demolish arguments and every pretension that sets itself up against the knowledge of God, and we take captive every thought to make it obedient to Christ.” (NIV)
Have you ever wanted to study the Old Testament, but haven’t been sure where to start? Don’t miss our next First 5 study, Isaiah. We’ll discover a book that proves God really does keep His promises and, above all else, points to Jesus. The 13-week study begins TODAY, October 7. Get the Isaiah Experience Guide!
REFLECT AND RESPOND:
What is your prime time for temptation? What steps will you take to resist Satan’s attacks the next time you’re tempted?
© 2019 by Sarah Geringer. All rights reserved.