Do you find yourself struggling with sexual temptation? These prayers for purity can give you graces to deal with it! St. Gregory the Great once referred to prayer as “the bulwark [protection] of chastity.”
We may never completely break free from “impure thoughts”, as they are often called in examinations of conscience before Confession. Still, we can, with the help of our Lord and His Blessed Mother in prayer, turn away from them when they disturb our peace of mind.
The first of our prayers of purity is addressed first to our Blessed Mother Mary, who was called by St. Alphonsus Liquori “the dispenser of all divine graces”.
Mary, Mother most pure, and Joseph, chaste guardian of the Virgin, to you I entrust the purity of my soul and body. I beg you to plead with God for me that I may never for the remainder of my life soil my soul by any sin of impurity. I earnestly wish to be pure in thought, word and deed in imitation of your own holy purity. Obtain for me a deep sense of modesty, which will be reflected in my external conduct. Protect my eyes, the windows of my soul, from anything that might dim the luster of a heart that must mirror only Christ-like purity. And when the “Bread of Angels” becomes my food in Holy Communion, seal my heart forever against the suggestions of sinful pleasures. Finally, may I be among the number of those of whom Jesus spoke, “Blessed are the pure of heart for they shall see God.” Amen.
This second one, addressed to our Lord, is shorter and easier to memorize:
Lord, inflame our hearts and our inmost beings with the fire of Your Holy Spirit, that we may serve You with chaste bodies and pure minds. Through Christ our Lord. Amen
The third of our prayers for purity is a little longer:
My God, You have given me a body to keep pure and clean and healthy for Your service and my eternal happiness. Forgive me for all my unfaithfulness in this great responsibility. Forgive me for every mean use which I have made of Your gifts in thought, word or deed since my rebirth as Your own adopted child in Baptism and my registration as a soldier of Jesus on the day of my Confirmation. Create in me a clean heart, O God, and give me a steadfast will that I may be a strength to others around me. Teach me to respect my body and the bodies of my fellow creatures. Help me to see the glory of perfect manhood In Jesus Christ and of perfect womanhood in Mary Immaculate. Inspire me with such love for the ideals for which our Savior lived and died that all my passions and energies will be caught up into the enthusiasm of His service, and evil things will lose their power. May my body be the servant of my soul, and may both body and soul be Your servants. Through Christ our Lord. Amen.
And, last but by no means least, we have this prayer for chastity from St. Thomas Aquinas:
Dearest Jesus! I know well that every perfect gift, and above all others that of chastity, depends upon the most powerful assistance of Your Providence, and that without You a creature can do nothing. Therefore, I pray You to defend, with Your grace, chastity and purity in my soul as well as in my body. And if I have ever received through my senses any impression that could stain my chastity and purity, may You, Who are the Supreme Lord of all my powers, take it from me, that I may with an immaculate heart advance in Your love and service, offering myself chaste all the days of my life on the most pure altar of Your Divinity. Amen.
We often hear nowadays that it is somehow unhealthy, unrealistic, or unnatural to try to “suppress” our sexual desires. We’re sexual beings, after all, aren’t we? Not quite! God meant sex to be special expression of the love that a married couple shared with each other, two becoming one flesh (Gen 2:24; Mark 10:8) for the possible creation of children. Far from seeing sex as being something “dirty,” our Creator puts it on a pedestal of its own, in this manner, as part of the intimate love shared by a husband and wife.
As much as some of us, particularly guys, might obsess about having sex as frequently or spontaneously as rabbits or animals in heat, the fact remains God has a higher calling, and thus a higher standard, for us. After all, he created us in His image (Gen 1:27). Sexuality might bring out our “animal” nature, but we’re not animals, after all. Or, at least with God’s help, we try not to act like them!
(Besides which, lust, and sex outside of marriage, takes you into mortal sin territory. Having lustful thoughts isn’t a mortal sin per se; entertaining them and acting on them is.)
“Yeah, sure” you might say. Ok, let’s go back to the unreal “real world” for a minute. Even if you are tempted to think of God as some kind of grumpy killjoy and shut Him out of your life, at least in matters pertaining to sex as many people do today, you’re still not headed towards the Big Rock Candy Mountain.
Besides the risk of unwanted pregnancy, venereal disease, and broken families, there is the fact that when we engage in sex outside of marriage, we risk taking on a great deal of heartache and loneliness in any case.
Why? Because, with all the talk of “love” in songs, most often people aren't loving each other in bed. They’re using each other as commodities for physical or emotional gratification. Sex becomes self-centered instead of self-giving. As Tina Turner once sang about this kind of sexual activity “what’s love got to do with it”? This link from the Catechism of the Catholic Church, as well as this one, spells this all out in greater detail.
And yet, referring here to the fall of Adam and Eve (in Chapter 3 of the Book of Genesis), there are serpents all around us in the media and Hollywood today saying “Hey, take a bite of fruit from this tree. It’s good for you!”
We might not be as “repressed” as a society as in the days a few decades back when two unmarried people living together were considered to be “living in sin” and pornography and illicit sexual activity were located mainly in red-light districts (as in the picture above). But are we really that much happier being bombarded with sexually provocative material and suggestive ads everywhere? (And don’t forget all the “soft porn” on TV and in films these days!)
The reference from our Lord’s Sermon on the Mount to the “pure of heart” (Matt 5:8-9) in the first of our prayers for purity brings to mind another important scripture verse from that sermon in which Christ admonished His listeners not to even look at a woman with lustful intentions (Matt 5:28).
What Jesus then warned them about coveting riches fits in just as well with the danger of coveting the flesh. He said “The lamp of the body is the eye. If therefore your eye is sound, your whole body will be full of light” (Matt 6:22). Hopefully these prayers for purity above can help you keep impurities of thought from clouding your vision of the light that shines in the darkness (John 1:5), our Lord Jesus Christ Himself!