Chapter 1.
Overcoming Idolatry

When I first began to research the biblical history of captivity among God's people, I kept running into a conspicuous common denominator: idolatry. I don't know why it was such a news flash. God warned His people over and over that if they did not resist the false gods of the nations surrounding them they would be snared, and He would ultimately allow them to be taken captive. They didn't and He did. One sobering thing about the faithfulness of God is that He keeps His promises, even when they are promises of judgment or discipline. Over and over the Book of Isaiah seems to plead the question, "Why in the world would you worship idols when you have been chosen by the sovereign God of the universe to be His own?" Isaiah 43:10-12 packs a powerful punch: "You are my witnesses," declares the Lord,

"and my servant whom I have chosen,

so that you may know and believe me

and understand that I am he.

Before me no god was formed,

nor will there be one after me.

I, even I, am the Lord,

and apart from me there is no savior.

I have revealed and saved and proclaimed—

I, and not some foreign god among you.

You are my witnesses," declares the Lord, "that I am


You and I as believers in Christ have also been chosen to know and believe and understand that He is God. Our lives have been sanctified by the one true God. Heaven is His throne. Earth is His footstool. Awesome creatures never cease day or night singing, "Holy, Holy, Holy, Lord God Almighty!" Lightning flashes from His throne. The winds do His bidding. The clouds are His chariot. The earth trembles at the sound of His voice. When He stands to His feet, His enemies are scattered. He is transcendent over all things. Absolute. Uncontested. Omniscient. Omnipresent. The Lord God omnipotent reigneth. He is God and there is no other.

And, yet, this very One is our Father. Our Abba. He demands, deserves, our respect. Without it, for all practical purposes, we are powerless. Consider three reasons why praying Scripture regarding the "Godness" of God is so critical in the process of breaking free from strongholds:

1. Virtually every stronghold involves the worship of some kind of idol. For instance, the stronghold of pride is associated with the worship of self. The stronghold of addiction is often associated with the worship of some kind of substance or habit. In one way or another, something else has become "god" in our lives: the object of our chief focus. Filling our minds with Scripture acknowledging the "Godship" of God is a crucial part of renewing our minds. Until we turn from our idols to the one true God, we will never find liberty, for "where the Spirit of the Lord is, there is freedom" (2 Cor. 3:17). One missing link in almost every captive life is the spirit of God's lordship.

2. As long as our minds rehearse the strength of our stronghold more than the strength of our God, we will be impotent. As we pray the Word of God acknowledging His limitless strength and transcendent dominion, Truth will begin to eclipse the lies. We will realize that in our weakness He is strong and that as we bend the knee to His lordship God is more than able to deliver us.

3. We may be forced to realize that our perception of God is something that we, ourselves, have conjured up and not the one true God at all. This point may be a little hard to swallow. We may see ourselves as conventional Christians, but if we believe our God is small, that's not God at all. Truth sets us free. The truth may be that we've carved a "God" out of our own image, assigned Him the utmost and noblest of human characteristics, unintentionally envisioning Him to be more of a "superhuman" than the sovereign El Elyon—The Most High God. I am praying that this chapter will aid the development of a more accurate perception of God. I think sometimes that God must listen to our pitifully small acclamations, expectations, and petitions in prayer, and want to say, "Are you talking to Me? I'm not recognizing Myself in this conversation. Are you sure you have the right God?"

I will never forget the story I once heard about a Sunday school teacher giving his elementary school class an assignment on Easter Sunday. He asked them to make an acrostic of the word "Easter." He was stunned by one student's perception. The child had written: Every Alternative Savior Takes Early Retirement. What a thought-provoking statement! Hear this from a former captive: every alternative savior must take early retirement if we are ever to be free. Only one God can deliver us. The most monumental leap we take toward freedom is the leap to our knees—the lordship of Jesus Christ.

I suggest using several of these Scripture-prayers or others like them every single day. May God remind us daily—no matter what kind of obstacles we face—that we are loved and empowered by the One who brought the universe into existence with the mere sound of His voice. Nothing is impossible for Him.

My Father, I acknowledge that You are the Lord Almighty. You are the first and You are the last, and apart from You there is no other God. Make me witness to the fact that there is no other Rock but You. Enable me to say with full assurance, "I know not one." (Isa. 44:6, 8)

My Father, You are my Lord, my Holy One, my Creator, my King. You are the One who made a way through the sea, a path through mighty waters. (Isa. 43:15-16)

My Father, You are the Lord my God. I desire to love You, listen to Your voice, and hold fast to You, for You, Lord, are my life. (Deut. 30:20)

The giant step in the walk of faith is the one we take when we decide God no longer is a part of our lives. He is our life.

You alone are the Lord. You made the heavens, even the highest heavens, and all their starry host, the earth and all that is on it, the seas and all that is in them. You give life to everything, and the multitudes of heaven worship You. (Neh. 9:6)

My Father, how I thank You that it is unthinkable that You would do wrong, that the Almighty would pervert justice. Who appointed You over the earth? Who put You in charge of the whole world? If it were Your intention and You withdrew Your Spirit and breath, all mankind would perish together and man would return to the dust. (Job 34:12-15) Instead, my Lord, You have promised that Your plans for Your people are plans to prosper and not to harm, plans to give us hope and a future. (Jer. 29:11)

Yours, my Lord, is the greatness and the power and the glory and the majesty and the splendor, for everything in heaven and earth is Yours. Yours, my own heavenly Father, is the kingdom and You are exalted as head above all. (1 Chron. 29:11)

My mighty God, in Your hand is the life of every creature and the breath of all mankind. (Job 12:10) You, my God, open Your hand and satisfy the desires of every living thing. (Ps. 145:16)

The earth is Yours, O Lord, and everything in it, the world and all who live in it. (Ps. 24:1) For You, my Lord, are a great God, the great King above all gods. In Your hand are the depths of the earth, and the mountain peaks belong to You. The sea is Yours, for You made it, and Your hands formed the dry land. (Ps. 95:3-5)

Lord, I know that You are great—greater than all gods. You do whatever pleases You, in the heavens and on the earth, in the seas and all their depths. (Ps. 135:5) Although You are sovereign and You do what You please, You are righteous in all Your ways and loving toward all You have made. (Ps. 145:17)

My Father, Your kingdom is an everlasting kingdom, and Your dominion endures throughout all generations. You, my Lord, are faithful to all Your promises and loving toward all You have made. (Ps. 145:13)

You, my God, made the world and everything in it. You are the Lord of heaven and earth, and You do not live in temples built by hands. And You are not served by human hands, as if You needed anything, because You Yourself give all men life and breath and everything else. From one man You made every nation of men, that they should inhabit the whole earth; and You determined the times set for them and the exact places where they should live. You, my Father, did this so that men would seek You and perhaps reach out for You and find You, though You are not far from each one of us. For in You we live and move and have our being! (Acts 17:24-28)

Shall we still call coincidence what God calls providence?

Many, O Lord my God, are the wonders You have done. The things You planned for us no one can recount to You; were I to speak and tell of them, they would be too many to declare. (Ps. 40:5)

How great You are, My God! You are beyond my understanding! The number of Your years is past finding out. You draw up the drops of water, which distill as rain to the streams; the clouds pour down their moisture and abundant showers fall on mankind. Who can understand how You spread out the clouds, how You thunder from Your pavilion? (Job 36:26-29)

Lord, You have been our dwelling place throughout all generations. Before the mountains were born or You brought forth the earth and the world, from everlasting to everlasting You are God. (Ps. 90:1-2)

O Lord my God, You are very great; You are clothed with splendor and majesty. You wrap Yourself in light as with a garment; You stretch out the heavens like a tent and lay the beams of Your upper chambers on their waters. You make the clouds Your chariot and ride on the wings of the wind. You make winds Your messengers, flames of fire Your servants. (Ps. 104:1-4)

My Father, great are Your works! They are pondered by all who delight in them. Glorious and majestic are Your deeds, and Your righteousness endures forever. You have caused Your wonders to be remembered; You, Lord, are gracious and compassionate. (Ps. 111:2-4) The works of Your hands are faithful and just; all Your precepts are trustworthy. They are steadfast for ever and ever, done in faithfulness and uprightness. (Ps. 111:7-8)

Who is like You, the Lord my God, the One who sits enthroned on high, who stoops down to look on the heavens and the earth? (Ps. 113:5-6)

Oh, Father, how I thank You that my help comes from You, the Maker of heaven and earth. (Ps. 121:2)

My Lord and my God, it is You who measured the waters in the hollow of Your hand and with the breadth of Your hand marked off the heavens. (Isa. 40:12) You sit enthroned above the circle of the earth, and its people are like grasshoppers. You stretch out the heavens like a canopy, and spread them out like a tent to live in. (Isa. 40:22)

O, Lord, help me to lift my eyes and look to the heavens and acknowledge who created all these. You bring out the starry host one by one, and call each of them by name. Because of Your great power and mighty strength, not one of them is missing. (Isa. 40:26)

You, my Lord, are the everlasting God, the Creator of the ends of the earth. You will not grow tired or weary, and Your understanding no one can fathom. You give strength to the weary and increase the power of the weak. Even youths grow tired and weary, and young men stumble and fall; but when I hope in You, O, Lord, my strength will be renewed. I will soar on wings like eagles; I will run and not grow weary, I will walk and not faint. (Isa. 40:28-31)

Ah, Sovereign Lord, You have made the heavens and the earth by Your great power and outstretched arm. Nothing is too hard for You! (Jer. 32:17)

My God, since the creation of the world Your invisible qualities—Your eternal power and divine nature—have been clearly seen, being understood from what has been made, so that men are without excuse. (Rom. 1:20) O, merciful God, help us not exchange the truth of God for a lie, and worship and serve created things rather than You, our Creator—who is forever praised. Amen. (Rom. 1:25)

For me, there is but one God, the Father, from whom all things came and for whom I live; and there is but one Lord, Jesus Christ, through whom all things came and through whom we live. (1 Cor. 8:6)

You, my Christ, are the image of the invisible God, the firstborn over all creation. For by You all things were created: things in heaven and on earth, visible and invisible, whether thrones or powers or rulers or authorities; all things were created by You and for You. You are before all things, and in You all things hold together. (Col. 1:15-17)

Your love, O Lord, reaches to the heavens, Your faithfulness to the skies. Your righteousness is like the mighty mountains, Your justice like the great deep. O Lord, You preserve both man and beast. How priceless is Your unfailing love! Both high and low among men find refuge in the shadow of Your wings. I want to feast on the abundance of Your house; I want to drink from Your river of delights. For with You is the fountain of life; in Your light I want to see light. (Ps. 36:5-9)

Why does God allow us to spend so much of life in the heat of battle? Because He never meant for us to sip His Spirit like a proper cup of tea. He meant for us to hold our sweating heads over the fountain and lap up His life with unquenchable thirst.

Great are You, my Lord, and most worthy of praise. Your greatness no one can fathom. One generation will commend Your works to another; they will tell of Your mighty acts. They will speak of the glorious splendor of Your majesty, and I will meditate on Your wonderful works. They will tell of the power of Your awesome works, and I will proclaim Your great deeds. They will celebrate Your abundant goodness and joyfully sing of Your righteousness. (Ps. 145:3-7)

You, my God, have put Your words in my mouth and covered me with the shadow of Your hand—You who set the heavens in place, who laid the foundations of the earth, and who say to Zion, "You are my people." (Isa. 51:16)

You, my Father, are the One who forms the mountain, creates the wind, and reveals His thoughts to man. You are the One who turns dawn to darkness, and treads the high places of the earth—the Lord God Almighty is Your Name! (Amos 4:13)

This is what You, the Lord my God, say—You who created the heavens, You are God; You who fashioned and made the earth, You founded it; You did not create it to be empty, but formed it to be inhabited—You say: "I am the Lord, and there is no other." (Isa. 45:18)

O, Lord, You rule forever by Your power, Your eyes watch the nations—let not the rebellious rise up against You. (Ps. 66:7) The fool says in his heart, "There is no God." (Ps. 14:1)

Lord, I acknowledge that You are the "I AM." This is Your name forever, the name by which You are to be remembered from generation to generation. (Exod. 3:14-15)

O, Lord my God, help me never to worship any other god, for You, my Lord, are a jealous God. (Exod. 20:4-5)

You, my Lord, are a warrior; the Lord is Your name. (Exod. 15:3)

My Father, You are the Lord; that is Your name! You will not give Your glory to another or Your praise to idols. (Isa. 42:8)

My Father, help me to know that the Lord my God is God; You are the faithful God, keeping Your covenant of love to a thousand generations of those who love You and keep Your commands. (Deut. 7:9)

You, my God, are the Rock. Your works are perfect, and all Your ways are just. You are a faithful God who does no wrong. You are upright and just. (Deut. 32:4)

The Lord my God is God of gods and Lord of lords, the great God, mighty and awesome. You show no partiality and accept no bribes. (Deut. 10:17)

Psalm 31:19 reads, "How great is Your goodness, which you have stored up for those who fear you,... those who take refuge in you...." That is what God does for those who fear Him. He sets aside and stores up goodness for His children, to be given at appropriate times in the future. What this goodness is, and when it will be bestowed, is unique to each individual according to God's plan and purpose for that person.

Jerry Bridges, The Joy of Fearing God

You, my Father, are my loving God and my fortress, my stronghold and my deliverer, my shield, in whom I take refuge, who subdues people under me. (Ps. 144:2)

You alone are my rock and my salvation; You are my fortress, I will not be shaken. My salvation and my honor depend on You; You are my mighty rock, my refuge. (Ps. 62:6-7)

Lord, please help me to revere Your name. You have promised that, if I do, the sun of righteousness will rise with healing in its wings and that I will go out and leap like a calf released from the stall. (Mal. 4:2)

My Father, heaven is Your throne, and the earth is Your footstool. (Isa. 66:1)

My Lord, You are slow to anger and great in power; You will not leave the guilty unpunished. Your way is in the whirlwind and the storm, and clouds are the dust of Your feet. (Nah. 1:3)

Father, those who oppose You will be shattered. You will thunder against them from heaven; You will judge the ends of the earth. (1 Sam. 2:10)

My God, whom have I in heaven but You? And earth has nothing I desire besides You. (Ps. 73:25)

Lord, to the Israelites Your glory looked like a consuming fire on top of the mountain. (Exod. 24:17) Help me to be thankful and to worship You acceptably with reverence and awe, because You, my God, are a consuming fire. (Heb. 12:28-29)

O, Father, I confess that I cannot fathom Your mysteries. I cannot probe Your limits, Almighty One. They are higher than the heavens. They are deeper than the depths of the grave. Their measure is longer than the earth and wider than the sea. (Job 11:7-9)

O, Lord, You have made everything beautiful in Your time. You have also set eternity in the hearts of men; yet we cannot fathom what You have done from beginning to end. (Eccles. 3:11)

My God, I acknowledge that Your thoughts are not my thoughts, neither are Your ways my ways. As the heavens are higher than the earth, so are Your ways higher than my ways and Your thoughts than my thoughts. (Isa. 55:8-9)

My Father and my God, You are seated on a throne, high and exalted. The train of Your robe fills the temple. Above You are seraphs, calling to one another, "Holy, holy, holy is the Lord Almighty; the whole earth is full of his glory." (Isa. 6:1-3)

If we have never had the experience of taking our commonplace religious shoes off our commonplace religious feet, and getting rid of all the undue familiarity with which we approach God, it is questionable whether we have ever stood in His presence. The people who are flippant and familiar are those who have never yet been introduced to Jesus Christ. After the amazing delight and liberty of realizing what Jesus Christ does, comes the impenetrable darkness of realizing Who He is.

Oswald Chambers, My Utmost for His Highest

My Father, You placed all things under the feet of my Savior, Christ, and appointed Him to be head over everything for the church, which is His body, the fullness of Him who fills everything in every way! (Eph. 1:22-23)

My Lord, where can I go from Your Spirit? Where can I flee from Your presence? If I go up to the heavens, You are there; if I make my bed in the depths, You are there. If I rise on the wings of the dawn, if I settle on the far side of the sea, even there Your hand will guide me, Your right hand will hold me fast. (Ps. 139:7-10)

My Lord and my God, You are both a God nearby and a God far away. No one can hide in secret places so that You cannot see him. You fill heaven and earth! (Jer. 23:23-24)

My Lord, Your Word is right and true; You are faithful in all You do. You love righteousness and justice. I thank You that the earth is full of Your unfailing love! (Ps. 33:4-5)

My Father and my God, You are not a man, that You should lie, not a son of man, that You should change Your mind. I thank You that when You speak, You act. And what You promise, You fulfill. (Num. 23:19)

O, Lord, You are my God; I will exalt You and praise Your name, for in perfect faithfulness You have done marvelous things, things planned long ago. (Isa. 25:1)

Now to the King eternal, immortal, invisible, the only God, be honor and glory for ever and ever. Amen. (1 Tim. 1:17)

Personalizing Your Prayers