I hope this post will help everyone to grow closer to God, even aside from how I will relate this post to crossdressing. My point is simple, but I think powerful. We need to be more aware of God’s presence, to “practice the presence of God” (click there for a great free book to read), and this will not only help us in our spiritual lives, but it will help us to better fight our crossdressing temptations when they come.
One of the most important steps in our walk as disciples of Jesus, in our Christian growth and in our relationship with God, is to learn how to be aware of God’s presence with us all the time. This allows us to have a continual conversation with him throughout the day, and receive his comfort, love, guidance, etc. A new believer might feel like they are with God when at the church service, but then go throughout the week and not feel like they are in God’s presence until they are back at church or until they are having intentional time in prayer once a day. In fact, a lot of people who have been Christians for decades might feel the same. This is a mark of spiritual immaturity, and growth is needed! I want to help any of you who feel like this to start growing in your spiritual maturity, and growing in your relationship with God. When I enter into the sanctuary for worship, my focus becomes more intent on God, but it is not as if I am starting a new conversation. I’ve already been talking to him.
God is with us all the time. Read Acts 17:28, Psalm 139, John 14:15-21, 1 John 4:16, Psalm 23:4, and one of my favorites, Matthew 28:19-20 –
19 Therefore go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in a the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, 20 and teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you. And surely I am with you always, to the very end of the age.”
Jesus is with us all the time through the Holy Spirit who lives within us as believers. We need to cultivate an awareness of his presence with us at all times. He is always watching us, he is always with us. As a Christian, this should fill me with comfort more than fear. Yes, it might make me afraid if I’m living in sin, as it should, but if we are trying to follow Jesus, we don’t need to be afraid. God’s presence with me throughout the day gives me feelings of security, love, and thanksgiving.
One of the best ways, in my experience, to practice the presence of God and learn to always be aware of his presence is to pray continually. When we talk to someone we are more aware of them. It’s not easy to be aware of God’s presence, because he doesn’t usually speak to us with an audible voice and we don’t see him. We worship him in spirit and in truth because God is spirit (John 4:23). But the more time we spend talking to God and listening to him, the more we are aware of him in our spirit. I find it difficult to explain this, because I’ve known Jesus personally since I was a child. But there is obviously a difference between talking to my friend who hears me with his ears, and talking to God who is spirit. But when I talk to God, whether in my spirit or verbally out loud, I trust that he hears me, and I sense him hearing me, and I sense his presence with me. Don’t take my word for it. See for yourself. If you start praying more throughout the day, you’ll be more aware of his presence and the Living God will be more real to you.
1 Thessalonians 5:16-18
16 Be joyful always; 17 pray continually; 18 give thanks in all circumstances, for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus.
12 Be joyful in hope, patient in affliction, faithful in prayer.
6 Do not be anxious about anything, but in everything, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God.
18 And pray in the Spirit on all occasions with all kinds of prayers and requests. With this in mind, be alert and always keep on praying for all the saints.
15 Through Jesus, therefore, let us continually offer to God a sacrifice of praise—the fruit of lips that confess his name.
I could try to give you instructions on what to pray for and how throughout the day, but I think it might be more interesting to just tell you what I do myself. When I wake up in the morning I pray, asking God to be with me during the day, thanking him, and asking him to help me give honor to him that day, and I commit the day to him. Sometimes I begin the day with the Lord’s Prayer. Sometimes I’ll do this away from my family and pray on my knees. As I go online to check emails and social media, when there is a friend to pray for, I will just stop what I’m doing for a minute each time I need to pray for one of them. I’ll close my eyes at the computer and pray for them before moving on.
As I go about my day, I continually talk to God about little things, thanking him for the good weather, for the smile from a friend, or for his love for me. And I will continually ask God for little things, for help in my work, for guidance, to take care of someone I hear about who is in need, for good ideas for my preaching, etc. What also helps is the normal Christian practice of praying before each meal. It’s good to thank God for our food, but I use that time to check in with God about everything, things I need help with, things I’m thankful for, telling God reasons why I love him, and praying for other people.
Also, as I go throughout the day I’ll have times of confession. “God forgive me for not being as friendly with that person as I should have been. Forgive me for that impatience when I was waiting in line. Forgive me for having these lustful or selfish thoughts.” I will pray like this throughout the day, surely not every second or even every minute, but still in a continual uninterrupted conversation all day long. I’m not saying I do this perfectly. I have a lot of room for growth yet myself!
Where and how do I pray? I’ll pray sometimes with my eyes closed and hands folded, intentionally focusing on God and cutting out distractions. But other times, I’ll be praying with my eyes open while in the midst of preaching or teaching or having a conversation with other people. I’ll pray while I’m driving, while I’m on the toilet, before and during intimate time with my wife, while playing games, while jogging, and while reading a book. Any time, any place. I end the day as well with prayer, thanking God for the day and asking him to protect me from disturbing or sinful dreams during the night.
I also try to take time to listen to the Holy Spirit. Primarily I do this through reading God’s Word every day and asking him to speak to my heart through it. But I also try to listen to the Holy Spirit speaking within my heart by being quiet and focusing only on God’s presence with me. I find this much more difficult than reading Scripture. But I do sense him bringing things to my mind and guiding my thoughts. And at times, I’ve sensed clearly what he is saying to me, hearing his voice in my mind. Some of the times I hear the Holy Spirit most clearly are the times when I’m considering acting out in sin, perhaps feeling a desire to crossdress or read crossdressing material online. Then his voice is a thunder in my head, very clearly telling me to run away and not act out in disobedience.
Once we have this continual awareness of God’s presence, we will do much better in fighting sinful temptations, whether temptations to crossdress, look at porn, or even temptations to be greedy or selfish. Think of children. They are disobedient often. But children don’t so quickly hit their brother or sister when their parent is in the same room! They don’t steal candy from the cupboard that is off limits when the parent is in the same room! When we are aware of God’s presence with us, we are aware of Jesus watching us, we are much much less likely to fail and fall into sin. Why? For some of us, it could be fear of God’s punishment, especially if we don’t have a firm grasp that we are saved by grace in Jesus. For others of us, it is more that we love God so much, we would hate to disappoint him like that by falling into such a sin. Other times, I think of Jesus and how he died on the cross for me, and it’s really tough to fall into sin knowing he is watching me, and knowing that he bore God’s wrath for the sin I am about to commit. How can I add to the burden he took on the cross, while he is watching me? Being aware of his presence also gives me strength against temptation, and reminds me that I have been given power by the Holy Spirit to say “NO” to sin. Sometimes I also just remember that God is with me and he loves me and gives me such joy in my life and I love him so much, and the temptation loses it’s power and drifts away. God’s love is more powerful than the temptation, and I also love God more than the sin.
Growing in your awareness of God’s presence not only helps you fight your sexual addiction, but it helps you grow in your relationship with God and can transform your whole life! So this might be one of the most important steps in fighting your addiction.