I have never been a religious person. I used to consider myself an atheist but now I consider myself more of an agnostic. Religion still boggles my mind and makes me feel uneasy. I think it’s mostly because when I was a child no one actually explained it to me and what was its purpose. Therefore most of my life I did not have any beliefs, or spirituality, or a version of a Higher Power, but I always knew that there was a spirit looking over me – how else was I still alive after so many alcohol induced disasters.
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?–AA, Big Book, pg 47
When I started my recovery journey, I couldn’t stay sober for more than a few months at a time. I kept thinking that I was missing something very important. Being part of a 12-step program I was often reminded that I needed a Higher Power, a God of my understanding, or a belief in something greater. I needed a spiritual path, and a faith of some kind. This was quite a tall order for my skeptical mind, and was not having any part of it.
But after many relapses I changed my mind and I was ready to try anything. I knew I was missing some kind of spirituality and I decided that if I couldn’t just believe, I would try accept it. I decided to let go of all my old beliefs and bought a little necklace 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 necklace, like a rabbits foot, a favorite shirt, or a crystal with special powers!
We had to fearlessly face the proposition that either God is everything or else He is nothing. God either is, or He isn’t. What was our choice to be?–AA, Big Book, page 77
Then I 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 sleep, I repeated the serenity prayer until I fell asleep.
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 I 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 those who trespass against us; and lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from evil.”
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.–Reinhold Niebuhr
This simple act of praying had became something much bigger than I would have ever imagined. It became my hope and faith! I even noticed that my urge to drink was lifted and life started to bloom around me. My heart got softer and kinder. I was smiling more often and I began to feel happy!
My spirituality has grown to something quite amazing since then, and today I truly believe that there is a Higher Power that cares for all of us. I still don’t 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.
For all of you who are still not quite sure, and are still looking for some scientific proof, I found this interesting article on WebMd, about a scientist who has spent many years studying the power of prayer.
For the past 30 years, Harvard scientist Herbert Benson, MD, has conducted his own studies on prayer. He focuses specifically on meditation, the Buddhist form of prayer, to understand how the mind affects the body. All forms of prayer, he says, evoke a relaxation response that quells stress, quiets the body, and promotes healing.
As an individual goes deeper and deeper into concentration, intense activity begins taking place in the brain’s parietal lobe circuits — those that control a person’s orientation in space and establish distinctions between self and the world. Benson has documented a “quietude” that then envelops the entire brain. The mind-body connection dissolves, Benson says.
Full article: Can Prayer Heal?
If you, or anyone you know, is struggling with Alcohol Use Disorder (AUD)*, please check out the Sober Courage menu at the top of this page for an extensive list of support groups and recovery related articles.
*Problem drinking that becomes severe is given the medical diagnosis of “alcohol use disorder” or AUD. AUD is a chronic relapsing brain disease characterized by compulsive alcohol use, loss of control over alcohol intake, and a negative emotional state when not using (Ref: NIAAA).