DEAR FATHER PAUL: I am a 40 year-old male professional … well educated and successful … but with a serious addiction problem … smoking!
I got started smoking in college. Almost all of the guys on my dorm hall smoked. We thought it was “cool.” Later, after college, it began to sink in on me that smoking wasn’t “cool” at all … it was nasty, expensive and very likely to result in serious health issues and even my early death.
I began seriously trying to quit about ten years after college, but have totally failed. Even after staying “nicotine free” for sometimes as long as a month or two, I have always started smoking again. Lately, I have even started VAPING, which presents new, even darker issues.
You name it, I’ve tried it … will power and self discipline, medications, even hypnosis. But nothing has worked ! I always start smoking again! I feel so defeated and discouraged. Any advice and thoughts would be deeply appreciated. I am a Christian. William (not my real name).
DEAR “WILLIAM”: Would it surprise you to learn that I totally understand what you are going through from my own personal experience. You see, I wasn’t always a preacher, and decades ago I had the exact same problem you are having now … with exactly the same disappointing and discouraging results. But, here’s the good news … I have not had a single puff on a single cigarette since early in 1976 … not one! And. best of all, I have never even been tempted to smoke a cigarette even one single time in all these nearly forty-five years. Really !
“How’d you do it,” you might ask? Well, here’s my very own personal story. Every word is true. Again, this is not a story that I read about or heard about someone else. It really happened to me. The story you are about to read was my first, but thankfully, not my last “miracle” from God.
I started smoking in high school and continued all the way through college. As you say, smoking was “cool” back then. I continued smoking after graduation as I began my first of three careers. I was a high school history teacher in a large public school system here in Georgia. I married, got a graduate degree and children started to arrive. During these years I continued to smoke (at least) a pack of cigarettes a day. I was “hooked” for sure.
Like you, “William,” I tried to quit smoking probably a dozen or more times … always with deeply disappointing and discouraging results. I’d been a Christian since my second year of college, so it was natural for me to try prayer among lots of other cessation strategies. I even asked my pastor and other Christians to “please pray for me to quit smoking.” I’d quit for a month or so, but I always went back to smoking. At that point, way back in 1976, I was right where you are now!
Then I became friends with Jimmy. Jimmy was a businessman, ten years my senior and a deeply devoted and practicing Christian. He’d forgotten more about the Bible than I ever knew. One day, over coffee, I opened my heart to Jimmy about the fact that I’d prayed and prayed to God to stop smoking and that I was so discouraged because God hadn’t come through.
Then, I distinctly remember, even after all these years, that Jimmy asked me what I thought at the time was a very strange question. He said, “So how are you praying?” Sheepishly I mumbled something like, “Dear God, I am weak. Please give me the strength I need to quit smoking.”
“That’s your problem!” Jimmy almost shouted. “You’re praying the wrong prayer!”
“What do you mean the wrong prayer?” I said.
Jimmy replied, “Paul, you will never, ever have the strength you need and are praying for in and of yourself alone. Why? Listen, it’s not so much that you are weak, which you are. But your real problem is that you are in bondage! You are literally being held captive. You are in chains. You don’t need more strength, you need to be emancipated. You need to be set free! You need deliverance.”
Jimmy proceeded to explain to me that Jesus is indeed our redeemer and our savior, but that he is also what he called, “The Chain Breaker.”
He went on to quote from memory the words of Jesus himself in Luke 4:18-19; 21 (New Living Translation) where Jesus was asked to read the scriptures in the synagogue on the Sabbath. Jesus read a passage from Isaiah. “The Spirit of the Lord is on me, because he has anointed me to proclaim good news to the poor. He has sent me to proclaim freedom for the prisoners and recovery of sight for the blind, to set the oppressed (captives) free, to proclaim the year of the Lord’s favor.” He then said, “Today this scripture is fulfilled in your hearing.”
Jimmy went on say, “Jesus was talking about you, Paul. You are in chains and in bondage to cigarettes!” He then pointed out that there are twenty-six additional verses in the Bible about Jesus freeing those who are in captivity, in bondage, in chains. Then he said, “If you are really, really serious, do this. Ask Jesus, ‘The Chain Breaker,’ to personally visit you, break your chains and set you totally free from your bondage to cigarettes … and, he will!”
That night, after the rest of the family was asleep, I got down on my knees next to the sofa in our living room and prayed, “Lord Jesus, I need you to visit me here, now, tonight and set me completely and totally free from my bondage to cigarettes. Come, ‘Chain Breaker,’ and break my chains. Amen.”
Instantly, I felt very, very light, almost weightless. I stumbled to bed and immediately fell into a sound, dreamless sleep.
I woke up the next morning completely refreshed. Later that day, I realized that I hadn’t had, or even wanted a cigarette all day. Amazingly, I realized that my chains had been broken and had fallen away. All my desire for cigarettes and nicotine was completely and totally gone and, (as I said earlier) it has never returned a single time to this day. As a matter of fact, I become quite ill if I even smell cigarette smoke. Praise be to God!
Finally William, I have seen this same, simple Bible-based deliverance prayer strategy work for numerous other people in your (and my) situation. It has brought many complete freedom from any number of bad habits, addictions and other binding “chains.”
If you doubt that Jesus will also do the same for you, then consider this. St. Peter himself says as much in Acts 10:34 (New Living Translation), “Then Peter replied, ‘I (now) see very clearly that God shows no favoritism.’” Which means simply that what he did for me, William, he will also do for you and for others. May God bless you as your chains fall to the ground.
[Father Paul Massey is Canon to the Ordinary for the Bishop of the Diocese of the Mid-South of the International Communion of the Charismatic Episcopal Church, and is assigned to the Cathedral of Christ The King in Sharpsburg, Georgia. He is a Chaplain for the Peachtree City, Georgia Police Department.]