Pray About Everything

Part of living into the recovery lifestyle is developing the program. That word gets tossed around a lot. Program.

It means different things to different people – with good reason. While many elements of the program are basic and ubiquitous, it’s not uncommon for everyone’s program to look a little different.

After all, every recovery program includes specific direction for the individual who is implementing and following it. And even though general elements of the program will likely remain the same across the board, how those elements are lived out day by day might vary greatly.

A typical day might look something like this:

Every Morning

  1. As soon as your eyes open, get down on your knees and pray.
    1. Thank God for giving you another day.
    2. Ask God to help you stay sober/drug free that day.
    3. Ask God to show you what he wants to do through you.
  2. Pledge again that you will not use today.
  3. Read the elements of your program.
  4. Ask yourself if you want recovery and life or addiction and death.
  5. Remind yourself that:
    1. You are not in control. Your life had become unmanageable.
    2. Your God has the power and the desire to save you.
    3. Try to turn your life and will over to God as you understand God.
  6. Read the Bible.
  7. Read aloud the words of the step you are working on that day.
  8. Review your progress in working the steps, and continue that effort.

During The Day

  1. Avoid the people, places and things that may lead you to use.
  2. Remember your commitment to recovery.
  3. Carry on an ongoing conversation with God, praying often.
  4. “Change the channel” if you begin to think about using.
  5. Call someone if you feel that thought turn into a temptation.
  6. Attend meetings whenever possible.

Every Evening

  1. Review your progress in working the steps and continue that effort.
  2. Read the Bible.
  3. Get down on your knees and pray.
    1. Thank God for helping during the day.
    2. Ask God to help you stay sober/drug free tomorrow.
    3. Ask God to show you what he wants to do through you.

A few things about this daily routine immediately jump out at me: God, the Bible, and prayer.

It may seem to the newcomer like the goal of the program is to become sober and that such a goal is reached by attending meetings, working the steps, and maintaining a relationship with a sponsor.

Those elements are definitely necessary, but sobriety is merely a byproduct of the program. The primary purpose of the program is to achieve transformation, but not just any transformation – spiritual transformation. The steps, if worked well, should result in a spiritual experience – an awakening, as it is often referred to in the twelfth step.

And the only way for such results to come to fruition is by maintaining a relationship with God. We do that the same way we carry on a relationship with anyone else – talking and spending time together.

That’s why daily meditation is an integral part of successfully working the program.

Meditation is not a scary word. Meditation doesn’t have to contemplative or follow any eastern traditions. It can, but it doesn’t have to. Meditation needn’t use mantras or repetitive vocalizations or the lotus position.

Meditation simply requires that we spend time deliberately studying and reflecting on God and the lessons we need to learn to make through another day.

Just like the church and Christian authors put out daily devotions that include scripture, motivation, and inspiration, the recovery community does likewise. They may not be called devotionals, but they serve a similar purpose.

Narcotics Anonymous, for example, has a book of daily meditations for recovering addicts called Just For Today. As the schedule above indicates, we can also use our morning and evening times of meditation to read the Bible and other recovery literature. Working the steps, for instance, is not a one and done experience. We should always be working our way back through one or all of the steps. I mean, there’s a reason steps 10-12 are called maintenance steps, after all.

Just for Today reminded me this morning that the NA Basic Text tells us “that our Higher Power will take care of us” (58). This, as is often the case, pulled me to a reading from my home group meeting this week. My Monday night SA meeting is a literature study in which we’re currently working our way through the White Book (think the Big Book, but for sex addicts).

We’re currently working our way through a section on steps 6 and 7 dealing with character defects and taking ownership for the wrongs we commit. We learned in step 3 that it was necessary for us to turn our life and will over to the care and loving concern of God. The author says that when he did that, “it really worked. All [his] emotional, spiritual, physical, and material needs were being met, one day at a time” (121). He goes on to ask why we aren’t also giving all of our wrongs over to the God of our understanding.

Clearly we will suffer under the weight of our wrongs until they kill us if we simply attempt to hold onto them. Many of us have tried, unsuccessfully, foisting them off on others. What would happen if we gave them over to God?

This is what happened for one man who tried just that. “Every time [he] surrendered a wrong…it worked.” He didn’t do much. He didn’t go into a great amount of detail. he didn’t have to because God knows our hearts and minds. God just wants us to trust in the provision that we will be taken care of. So whenever he wanted to give something to God he’d say something like this: “I don’t want to bear this; I want you to bear it for me; I cast in onto you” (121).

It can be that simple. Short. Sweet. To the point.

We don’t get bonus stars for using flowery language or having the right thing to say in prayer and supplication because there is no right (or wrong) thing to say. We just have to say something.

The author of the White Book concludes this section by telling us that this practice has never failed him. Not once. Every time he took to opportunity to surrender a defect to God, God graciously took it from him.

The only potential problem with this theory is that we, as addicts, are not incredibly sane. Even if we’ve had the experience that God will take something from us when we make such a request, we have difficulty believing that we’ll receive the same result another time. So we hesitate. Or we don’t ask. Or we hold on until we reach our breaking point.

But we don’t have to.

This is why we check in regularly – with God, with our sponsor, with ourselves.

If there’s top shelf stuff, we need to find a way to deal with that. Not later. Right now.

But as for God, we don’t need to worry about what God can handle. God’s got this. So don’t hesitate to take whatever temptations, resentments, or fears you’re holding onto and turn them over to the God of your understanding.

Don’t worry about anything; instead, pray about everything. Tell God what you need, and thank him for all he has done. Then you will experience God’s peace, which exceeds anything we can understand. His peace will guard your hearts and minds as you live in Christ Jesus.

Philippians 4:6-7

– Alex Walker

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