The Power of Prayer in Recovery
Seven days without prayer, makes one weak. –Anonymous
I have been wanting to write about this topic for a long time. More and more I have been noticing how important spirituality has become in my recovery, yet I still consider myself agnostic.
I have never been a religious person. I think that I used to actually be atheist. Religion still boggles my mind and makes me feel uneasy. I think it’s mostly because when I was a kid no one actually explained it to me. I was told to learn this story and believe in it. But it did not make any sense to me as a kid, and I have always questioned it its authenticity. Of course I have nothing against any religion. I can truly see its importance in the lives of many.
Most of my life however, I had no faith, I had not beliefs and I had no spirituality. Eventually alcohol had become all of those for me. And when I made alcohol my higher power there sure was not much room for anything else. I was scientific, I proclaimed, and science can explain everything! Well… except for spirituality.
When I started my recovery journey, I couldn’t stay sober for more than a few months at a time. I was struggling something awful! I was irritable, discontent and just unhappy! I kept thinking that I was missing something and well, I was. Being part of the 12 step program I was often reminded that I needed a Higher Power, a God of my understanding, a belief in something greater than myself, a spiritual path to follow, and faith of some kind. This was quite a tall order for my, oh so scientific mind, and I was not having any part of it – I wouldn’t even repeat the Lord’s prayer at the end of 12-step meetings. Prayer seemed silly to me; there was no one listening, and who were all these people praying to anyway!?
Do not let any prejudice you may have against spiritual terms deter you from honestly asking yourself what they mean to you. Who are you to say there is no God? –Anonymous
But after my last relapse I was at my wits end and I was ready to try anything to release me from the viscous alcoholic life. I knew I was missing some kind of spirituality but I just didn’t even know where to start looking for it. I read some books, but nothing really spoke to me. I talked to people and got even more confused! I decided that if I couldn’t just believe, I would force myself to accept it. I decided to let go of all my old beliefs and bought a little necklaces with a cross pendant. It felt really uncomfortable wearing it at first because it symbolized all that I didn’t believe in, but then again, what could it hurt I assumed, it’s just a necklaces, sort of like a rabbits foot, a favorite shirt, a lucky hat, or that magic rock!
I wore my necklace every single day and started to really believe that it had some magical powers. This simple act of wearing the necklaces become something way bigger than I would have ever imagined. It became my protector, it became my guide, and it became my hope! I even noticed that my urge to drink was lifted. Life started to bloom around me. My heart got softer and kinder. I was smiling more often! I even begun to feel happy!
I also started praying. First it was just a simple “Please help me stay sober.” and “Thank you for keeping me sober.” Then during the night when I could not asleep, I repeated the serenity prayer until I fell asleep; “God grant me the serenity, to accept the things I cannot change; courage to change the things I can; and wisdom to know the difference.” I would also list all the things that I could not change and all the things that I could change. And I always asked for the wisdom to know the difference. This prayer alone has put my mind at ease many times!
Then, I found myself praying in times of hardship and asking for patience, acceptance and forgiveness. When I was faced with difficult people I asked to be compassionate and caring. When had financial troubles I asked to have my worries taken away. I often used lines out of the Lord’s Prayer when dealing with my own wrongs and forgiveness, “And forgive us our trespasses, as we forgive them that trespass against us” – as well as when I was having cravings for a drink – “And lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from evil.” It seemed that all of the sudden, there was some prayer that I could repeat that would help me during the difficult times!
Words have the power to both destroy and heal. When words are both true and kind, they can change our world. — The Buddha
I still can’t quite explain how all this works. I have actually been able to feel the guiding power in my life and in times of need it was always there to protect me and steer me in the right direction. So, I have continued this practice for a while now, and I have been able to get thru some really challenging times in my life, by simply believing in a Higher Power and praying. Of course, to my biggest surprise, whatever guidance or help I asked for I have received, which is really quite unbelievable but I am so very grateful for all this amazing love that seemed to have come from nowhere! Who knew?!
I have to mention here, that I always thought that one had to follow a religion in order to be spiritual, I never thought that you could be spiritual without actual religion. There was a long period in my journey that I was constantly searching for this great religion, but what I didn’t see was that spiritually is in each one of use, all we have to do is believe!
Today, I truly believe that there is a Higher Power that cares for all of us. I still do not believe in socialized religion but that’s ok. I have admired many Christian prayers and I have been able to rely on many Buddhist teachings. And for my guardian necklace, well, it took me a while to replace it with one a bit more fitting, but I think “believe” is just perfect. I still wear it every single day!
For all of you who are not quite sure about all this prayer business, I found this interesting article on WebMd, about a scientist who has spent 30 years studying the power of prayer and how it affects people. You can read it HERE. And if you find yourself to be irritable, discontent and just unhappy in recovery, try some prayer! Believe me, it will change your whole attitude and outlook on life!
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