Praying Through the Guilt

no matter how gravely you sin, you will always remain in the image of God

Do you remember the first time you told a lie?

One of my friends recently told me that he remembers the first time he lied to his parents. He was 12 years old, and he felt so guilty! As guilt set in, he ran to his room, closed the door, and wanted to be alone.

How Satan Tries to Wear Us Down

Temptation, sin, and their immediate effects follow a predictable pattern every time.[1] You know how it goes. The devil always starts off isolating you, bypassing the family structure in some capacity.[2] He seeks to wear you down when you are alone or disconnected from others.

After he gets you isolated, he tempts you by asking questions and making statements corrupted with lies. But the devil’s lies usually include a hint of truth. He says things like: “Did God really tell you not to masturbate while watching porn? After all, the Church teaches that sex and the body are very good.”

The lies work because the evil one immediately follows it by igniting fear in you.[3]

For example, he suggests that without pornography or random sexual encounters, you will never have pleasure or the life you deserve. He makes you feel like you’ll be forever unhappy and cowardly if you don’t take advantage of this “opportunity.” Thus, instead of being the receiver and giver God has designed you to be, the devil pressures you to reject the theology of your body–being made in God’s image—to become a taker, something very opposite to your design.[4]

When consuming pornography, masturbating, or giving in to any sin for that matter, you’ll experience this pattern. However, you’ll have to be alert and reflective to see the steps.

What Happens If You Give in to a Lie

There’s still more to this sin pattern. What happens when you give in to the devil’s lies? What happens after the temptations pass and you sinned? Was it all as amazing as the devil made it out to be? Do you feel like you’re on top of the world now?

Our sin may leave us with a temporary high, but eventually, you feel worse about yourself or you realize that one experience won’t satisfy your longings. You feel more lonely than you did before.

Instead of promising you love, joy, and pleasure, the devil now harasses you about giving in to his allurements. He is an enemy. He points the finger at you and mocks you for having even claimed to be a child of God. He tells you you’re worth nothing and you might as well keep sinning since your sin defines you and makes you unlovable. More lies!

And this resulting guilt often pushes us into hiding.

The experience of guilt and hiding can last an hour or two, or even years. It really depends on how long we avoid responding to God when He calls out to us, “Where are you?” like He did to Adam and Eve in Genesis 3:9 after they hid because of their sin.

God never stops loving and pursuing you. No matter how gravely you sin, you will always remain in the image of God. This cannot be lost or taken by the devil.[5]

As you can see even in the question He poses to Adam and Eve, it shows that He seeks us even in His all-powerfulness and all-knowingness. As soon as we sin, God goes outside of Himself to seek us and invite us to return to Him. He gives everything to us in order to bring us back. He even gave us His only son our Lord Jesus Christ. This is the story of salvation history.

Where Are You?

Even though your conscience is clouded because of sin, it is still at work. Even in your guilt, if you listen, you will hear God’s question, “Where are you?”

What a great question. Indeed, where are you?

You may know you need to be back at God’s side, but are still hiding in your sinfulness and inadequacy. You may be hiding from the sexts you sent, the images you came across years ago, or the affair you had with a coworker. Ultimately, you’re hiding from the truth.

The moment you recognize you are hiding, conversion comes into sight and a new day begins to dawn. That’s the moment you need to pray for the strength, grace, courage, and humility to respond to God’s question, “Where are you?”

God will hear your response even if it’s a whisper. I encourage you to flee to prayer and say, “Lord! Lord! I am here. I am sorry. Thank you for always loving me. Help me to live and respond to love.”

Today is your day to stop hiding! For our Catholic friends, we invite you to join us in praying the Novena for Purity–nine days of focused prayer for chastity. For our non-Catholic friends, we encourage you to take part in Overcome Porn: The 40 Day Challenge, which contains some of our best Biblical content to help you put porn in your past.


[1] The Human Person According to John Paul II, pp. 124-144.
[2] Ibid, p. 127.
[3] Ibid, p. 133.
[4] Ibid, p. 137.
[5] Ibid, p. 141.