There’s a scene in the film The Bourne Ultimatum in which Jason Bourne (played by Matt Damon) uses a burner cell phone to communiate with another another character as Bourne directs him out of harm’s way in a busy train station.
The clip below picks up the scene in progress. You hear Bourne’s voice on a cell phone giving a newspaper reporter directions. It’s a dramatic and tense scene.
The scene isn’t just gripping cinema, it bears a striking resemblance to the real world we live in.
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Over the course of the many years in which I battled, unsuccessfully, against my urges with pornography, I realize — when I look back on it — that I often fought in my own strength.
Of course I knew Bible verses about lust, and tried to use them to my advantage. I knew Bible verses about temptation, also, and I hoped they would be enough to prevent yet another fall into sin.
I knew Bible verses about avoiding the adulteress as well, and I really wanted them to change my attitude the next time I was feeling the pull toward porn.
I was well armed — in one sense — with those verses, and at times I even purposed to memorize them.
Although I had Bible verses, as I went out to face my Enemy on the battlefield, the truth is I was actually relying on my own strength to resist temptation, and I was using Bible verses to prop up my fleshly efforts.
I was no match for the sin and the pull of well-designed temptation.
I won some skirmishes, to be sure. However, the truth is I was fighting on my own — as flesh and blood — in a war which Paul tells us in Eph. 6:10-18 is just the opposite.
As I reflect on that now, I am all too clear that what I didn’t have at that time was a vibrant relationship with my Father God in real time as I lived in a tempting world.
What I needed, to stay with the metaphor provided by the clip from The Bourne Ultimatum, was connection with God in the moment.
That sort of connection is something I started to experience little by little in the early days of my journey to freedom once my addiction to pornography was out in the open and being dealt with.
The rich life that scripture has always talked about; namely, conversational intimacy with God, slowly became my personal experience. And what a difference it has made.
This is one reason why I am excited about the forthcoming book “Moving Mountains,” by John Eldredge. In it, he talks at length — and in imminently practical terms — about the sort of prayer life that is powerful, effective, confident and conversationally intimate.
I was fortunate to receive an advanced copy at Christmas. The book will be available for sale in February.
“Moving Mountains” is almost a field manual of sorts for a life of prayer that is fully alive and transformative. In short, not all prayer is created equal.
Of course God pours out grace and moves even when our words are lacking. And of course, He is not waiting to act until we get the words just right. But there is something qualitatively different about the way I pray now when dealing with temptation, versus how I prayed back when I was struggling so poorly against it during my addiction.
In Galatians 4:4-5, Paul talks about how — in Christ — we have received “the full rights of sons.” One of the rights that sons receive is the right of real time, conversational intimacy with God. The right of hearing His voice in the moment.
Eldredge explores this right of conversational intimacy in detail in “Moving Mountains.” He explores other aspects of conversation with God as well.
Eldredge explores the authority that we, as believers, have in dealing with the spiritual realm, and he is — as always — honest about the obstacles that face us regarding meaningful prayer. Among the topics Eldredge highlights in this book are listening prayer, how to pray scripture, and warfare prayer. It’s a tremendous resource.
“Moving Mountains” is probably the most directly applicable book Eldredge has ever written. Each chapter contains things that you can practice the moment you put the book down.
And through it all, the book is seasoned with the sweet notion — which is much more than a mere notion — that God offers us the sort of intimacy that allows us to pray with passion, confidence and authority.
It reminds me of a story a friend of mine told me years ago. My friend had been a competitive wrestler, and his father attended most, if not all, of my friend’s meets. The father, who himself had some experience with competitive wrestling, would often stand off to the side of the wrestling mat and watch his son. At one particularly difficult match, my friend said that at a critical moment he looked over and saw his father standing there and the father was making a hand signal of some kind. It was subtle, but based on the shared interest the father and son shared regarding wrestling, my friend knew exactly what his father was communicating.
The father’s subtle signal told my friend to try a specific wrestling move. He did, and he won the match.
I have always loved that story. It demonstrates something beautiful in the communication that is possible between a father and his son. Ultimately, it shows what is possible for all of us with our heavenly father.
We have the full rights of sons.