Addiction, Prayer and the 12 Steps

Who is America has not been touched with addiction in a family member or close associate? Here is a prayer from the Book of Common Prayer. For years I prayed it for others not realizing that my own offspring needed the prayer, too. “For Victims of Addiction”

“O blessed Lord, You ministered to all who came to You: Look with compassion upon all who through addiction have lost their health and freedom. Restore to them the assurance of Your unfailing mercy; remove from them the fears that beset them; strengthen them in the work of their recovery; and to those who care for them, give patient understanding and persevering love. Amen.”

May God help us all.

Step 1 – We admitted we were powerless over our addiction and that our lives had become unmanageable

Step 2 – Came to believe that a Power greater than ourselves could restore us to sanity

Step 3 – Made a decision to turn our will and our lives over to the care of God as we understood Him.

Step 4 – Made a searching and fearless moral inventory of ourselves.

Step 5 – Admitted to God, to ourselves, and to another human being the exact nature of our wrongs.

Step 6 – Were entirely ready to have God remove all these defects of character.

Step 7 – Humbly asked Him to remove our shortcomings.

Step 8 – Made a list of all persons we had harmed, and become willing to make amends to them all.

Step 9 – Made direct amends to such people wherever possible, except when to do so would injure them or others.

Step 10 – Continued to take a personal inventory and when we were wrong promptly admitted it.

Step 11 – Sought through prayer and meditation to improve our conscious contact with God as we understood Him, praying only for knowledge of His will for us and the power to carry that out.

Step 12 – Having had a spiritual awakening as the result of these steps, we tried to carry this message to alcoholics, and to practice these principles in all our affairs.

Sunday is …

… not what it used to be for our household. No church attendance in person. In fact, I feel as if I do not even belong to my church any more. If we were to walk into what was a typical February 2020 worship service this very day, I bet I would remember the stories of those I have prayed with but likely have forgotten their names.

Sunday is not the major part of my faith life though. I learned long ago that my relationship with Jesus is what holds me to His side. This poem from 1988 reflects that sentiment. I learned the phrase “center -down silence” from Richard Foster in his work “The Celebration of Discipline.” Foster says it refers to getting quiet in anticipation of drawing closer to the Lord.

Inside Out © 1988                    Molly Lin Dutina

 I want to live from the inside out,
 always within the center-down silence.
 Having to struggle to get back 
 is not the direction I choose.
  
 Teach me, Lord, and help me 
 know how to grow 
 from the peaceful
 sanctuary within.
  
 Show me please where 
 to refresh our love.
 Give me attitudes that will unravel me
 from the sin which so easily entangles.
  
 Make me one with You, Lord,
 so I will know 
 how to be close 
 to all that is around me.
  
 Help me, Father,
 and be glorified in my life. 


I know the nautilus shell begins very small and grows larger as the animal grows larger. For me the nautilus can also be a useful image for the center-down silence: going from the busy, noisy world to the inner chambers of stillness and willingness to listen for the voice of the Almighty.

Try to center-down and listen

Meaningful Quotes

Sometimes I collect quotes that speak to my faith and spiritual growth. here are a few that might inspire you, also.

I have been an Associate of the Convent of the Transfiguration for MANY years – at last count about 29! Wowsers! Even I am surprised. The Transfiguration is an Episcopalian convent located in Glendale, Ohio a neighborhood of Cincinnati, Ohio. For more information click here https://www.ctsisters.org/index.php/history.html

Let us have a little sanctuary of silence in our hearts into which the voice of God alone may come.

Mother Eva Mary, CT

What could you begin as a spiritual discipline to clear a space, a little sanctuary of silence in your heart where God might speak to you?

Another woman who has influenced my walk was Basilea Schlink. She was born Karla Schlink in 1094 Germany and became a Lutheran religious leader and writer. She co-founded the Evangelical Sisterhood of Mary in 1947 to 2001. The Sisterhood has branches in Germany and Phoenix, Arizona. I have a tiny booklet of her writing entitled “The Weapon of Prayer.”

Prayer: being able to say anything and everything to Him whose love is measureless and whose power is boundless. He will supply all our needs.

M. Basilea Schlink

Would you dare to try this? My mother taught me early in my life to sing “In the Garden.” The refrain says, “And He walks with me and He talks with me…” Have you ever walked with Him and talked with Him throughout a day, a week, a month? This kind of prayer is powerful and not to be discounted.

When I was visiting recently with my friend, Betty, in New Mexico she shared this quote with me. It is taken from the ESV Global SB Notes regarding Abiding in Jesus.

To abide in Jesus means living in a daily, close relationship with Him, characterized by trust, prayer, obedience, and joy. The Holy Spirit’s presence and activity within Christians gives evidence that they are abiding in Christ (John 8:31, 6:56. 15:4; 1 John 2:6, 27-28; 3:6).

That is a meaty quote that will likely take the serious Christian some quality time to unpack. Can you say that all of these areas are functioning in your life, empowered by the Holy Spirit? I will be reviewing this as a form of self-examination for some time to come.

Promises and a Meaty Quote

From Streams in the Desert

“Beloved, God’s promises can never fail to be accomplished, and those who patiently wait can never be disappointed, for believing faith leads to realization. Abraham’s life condemns a spirit of hastiness, admonishes those who complain, commends those who are patient, and encourages quiet submission to God’s will and way.” – Unknown

Is that a meaty quote, or what? “His promises can never fail to be accomplished.” He is not a man that He should lie. He is faithful and powerful to do what He wills. Numbers 23:19

“Those who patiently wait can never be disappointed.” But wait! I have often been disappointed! Does that mean I am doing something wrong? Well, in my experience, most often my disappointments with God are because I have not waited long enough to see the fulfillment or I misunderstood the will or word of God.

“For believing faith leads to realization.” Do you have things in your life that you have had believing faith towards and then eventually you saw it come to pass? Do you, like David, review those things with joy and thanksgiving to inform your brain when your faith is weak? Speaking with a friend recently we stated that we see fruit from our faith walk most often in the rear view mirror or over our shoulder after the fact. Perhaps you have never listed the times that your faith has lead to realization? Maybe now is the time to review your walk and be reminded of the times this has occurred in your life?

“Abraham’s life condemns a spirit of hastiness, admonishes those who complain, commends those who are patient, and encourages quiet submission to God’s will and way.”

Hebrews 8:11 reads: “By faith Abraham, when called to go to a place he would later receive as his inheritance, obeyed and went, even though he did not know where he was going.”
He went, EVEN THOUGH he did not know where he was going. Do we have the same sort of quiet obedience? Dallas Willard taught that hurry is the great enemy of spiritual life in our day. The author of the quote above calls it a spirit of hastiness and says that Abraham condemns it. No hastiness, no complaining, be patient and quiet.

I have tried to keep myself in line with the remembrance that God calls me to Quiet, Gentle, Yielded, Peaceful Obedience to the Almighty. Holy Spirit help my life to be true to this call.

Do Not Presume

I attend a weekly prayer meeting on behalf of our church leaders. Those of us in the group take turns writing the outline and presenting it for the group to pray. Here is one of my recent outlines.

“But oh! GOD is in His holy temple! Quiet everyone – a holy silence. Listen!”

Habakkuk 2:20 MSG

Most of us are familiar with the traditional translation that read “The Lord is in His holy temple; let all the earth be silent before Him.” The message expresses that differently. This passage is from the Old Testament. In the finished work of Jesus we learn that we are the temple of God and He inhabits us through His Holy Spirit. (1 Corinthians 3:16)

During this pandemic it has often been difficult to remember to pray. Covid quarantine seems to have numbed my brain. Paul understood not knowing how to pray. He wrote

And the Holy Spirit helps us in our weakness. For example, we don’t know what God wants us to pray for. But the Holy Spirit prays for us with groanings that cannot be expressed in words.  And the Father who knows all hearts knows what the Spirit is saying, for the Spirit pleads for us believers in harmony with God’s own will.

Romans 8:26-27 (NLT2)

When I ponder “What is the place of my deepest need?” I so often turn to the Holy Spirit to illuminate that place for me.

There is a prayer from the Book of Common Prayer, Communion Rite 1, that has always blessed me. A portion of it reads:

“We do not presume to come to this Your Table, O merciful
Lord, trusting in our own righteousness, but in Your manifold
and great mercies. We are not worthy so much as to gather       
up the crumbs under Your Table. But You are the same Lord
whose property is always to have mercy. …..”

In lifting our prayer requests for the church leadership I reminded the group that we do not presume to come to this Your table trusting in our own righteousness. We do not presume to know how to pray for You to touch the deepest place of need in others, even in those closest to us, even for ourselves. We are not God. You are on the throne. You are seated among us.

Use us as You see fit in the call to stand and pray. And having done all, help us to stand.

 Therefore put on the full armor of God, so that when the day of evil comes, you may be able to stand your ground, and after you have done everything, to stand.

Ephesians 6:13 NIV

 In the same way, prayer is essential in this ongoing warfare. Pray hard and long. Pray for your brothers and sisters. Keep your eyes open. Keep each other’s spirits up so that no one falls behind or drops out.

Ephesians 6:18 MSG

Lord, help us silence our thunderous thoughts regarding what others need. Help us to stop pouring words upon words and thoughts upon thoughts and listen for Your voice regarding the needs of the church and even our own deepest needs.

I challenged the group to copy out their portion of the list of names and carry it them for one week. Lift those situations to the Throne Room. Simply place them in the Lord’s presence and ask Him to speak wisdom and peace, guidance and compassion to each one. Then as the Holy Spirit guides, pray specific things.

Perhaps this might help your prayer life, too?

Quotes

Sometimes I find quotes that stop and make me think. How do these hit you?

“Keep life moving forward, looking backward is only for time travelers. “ -Rachel O.Washington (Dove chocolate wrapper) An especially fine saying is this time of our lives! Especially as the chocolate melts in your mouth while you ponder the meaning 🙂

“What can’t be cured, must be endured.” Yikes.

From Charles Miller Chasing Fireflies: a novel of discovery “His question pressed me against the railing. Men spend their lives asking Who am I when the real question is Whose am I? I don’t think you can answer the first until you’ve settled the second. First horse, then cart. Identity does not grow out of action until it has taken root in belonging.”

So whose are you? I am the Lord Jesus Christ’s sister, my Father’s daughter, child and sheep. I could go on and on.

From a very strange novel called iQ84 “And it was the kind of thing that loses the most important nuances when reduced to words. Everybody feels safe belonging not to the excluded minority but to the excluding majority. You think, Oh, I’m glad that’s not me. It’s basically the same in all periods in all societies. If you belong to the majority, you can avoid thinking about lots of troubling things.” “And those troubling things are all you can think about when you’re one of the few.” “That’s about the size of it,” she said mournfully. “But maybe, if you’re in a situation like that, you learn to think for yourself.” “Yes, but maybe what you end up thinking for yourself about is all those troubling things.”

Sadly, our society has become so polarizing that exclusion of others is more the norm rather than acceptance and inclusion. America has years of recovery ahead. I am beginning to think we are rotting from the inside out. Lord, deliver us, I pray.

Johnny Bench, famous Cincinnati Reds catcher – “You can’t hold your happiness in the hands of other people.” SO TRUE SO TRUE!

One friend quoted her Grandad as saying “Now let’s return thanks.” Isn’t that a neat way to think about prayer?

The ubiquitous Teenager prayer, “Rub-a-dub-dub. Thanks for the grub. Yeah God!”

Just sending out things that strike me!

Amy Carmichael “Edges of His Ways”

I just love this devotional collected from the writings of Amy Carmichael (1867-1951). The other day I was thinking of this one and having trouble remembering the 3 – and then it showed up again.

The Three Sieves
“Is it true? Is it kind? Is it necessary?
All of us who have tried to remember these three sieves, and have used them, know what a help they are. We are sorry when we ever forget them, and we are very grateful when we are reminded of them in time to keep us from saying something untrue, unkind, or unnecessary.

“Perhaps these three sieves will help to keep some words from being spoken that would grieve the Spirit of love and hurt someone whom our Lord loves.
Is it true? Is it kind? Is it necessary?

Finally, brothers and sisters, whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable—if anything is excellent or praiseworthy—think about such things.
Philippians 4:8 NIV

When Did You Last Act Like A Kid?

During a recent rain shower I saw a child playing in a water-filled ditch. As a mom I first checked, and no, there had not been thunder or lightning that day. My second thought was how delighted I was to see her and how she reminded me of myself at that age. Once I found a crawfish in a puddle and brought it home as a pet. It was about 3/4″ long. I put it in the bathroom sink with a little water while I tried to find a container for its home. My sister unstopped the drain, not noticing my pet and all was lost. I was sad and mad. Fast forward to today!

“Maybe what God really wants are grown-up kids who dance in the puddles, who aren’t afraid to get their hands dirty, who dare to ask why a whole lot. Maybe we are far too proper. Maybe it’s time to take a page from Dainty doodlebug’s story and give in to the way we’re created to live—for our sake and for the gospel. Little else is as compelling and glorious as a giddy child, mud-covered and grinning, because they know how loved and safe they are even while thunder sounds in the distance.”

Embraced by Lysa TerKeurst

Giddy child of God, relax and enjoy creation again! Don’t those boots just remind one of Mike Powell?

“You were made from dust and to dust you shall return.”

Genesis 3:19

“Dance in the puddles, get your hands dirty, ask why a whole lot more.” Recently I had the opportunity twice in one week to counsel two different women on the fact that we are allowed to get angry with God. He can take it! He would much prefer we be genuine with Him than pretend some sort of proper piety. After all, He reads our hearts and knows our thoughts and our words before they cross our lips.

 You have searched me, LORD, and you know me.  You know when I sit and when I rise; you perceive my thoughts from afar.  You discern my going out and my lying down; you are familiar with all my ways.  Before a word is on my tongue you, LORD, know it completely.

Psalm 139:104 NIV 2011

Why not make an effort this week to get real with God? And if you have the opportunity, try jumping in a puddle, just for fun!!

Smile at Fears

Can you train your mind to smile at your fears, knowing that God is the One in charge of you? By making Jesus your Lord, you put yourself under His Lordship. That means He oversees you. Lord means one who has power and authority over another. The Bible says 365 times fear not. Yet, we each have fears. It is our choice whether we let that fear reside with us comfortably. We may have to submit our fear to the Christ repeatedly in any one day. He has the power to take the fears and replace them with trust and faith. Nothing can separate us from the power of God, unless we let it.

A recent quote from Gratefulness.org  was from Thich Nhat Hanh. He was a Vietnamese monk, a renowned Zen master, a poet, and a peace activist. He was nominated for the Nobel Prize by Martin Luther King, Jr., in 1967, and was the author of many books, including the best-selling “The Miracle of Mindfulness.” He wrote,

“Every time your fear is invited up, every time you recognize it and smile at it, your fear will lose some of its strength.”

Thich Nhat Hanh

This is a Buddhist teaching, but the Lord Jesus said something similar. The greatest commandment is ‘Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind.’ Matthew 22:37 (NIV2011)  

If we are willing to turn our heart, soul, mind and attention to the Living Christ, His very presence will sustain us. The song below sums it up nicely.

Give your fears to the Lord for one week and smile at them. See what a difference it makes!

Heraclitus

Heraclitus, a Greek philosopher, is quoted as saying change is the only constant in life. A native of Ephesus, he was born in 535 BC and died 475 BC. His saying has also been translated that the only constant is change.

Heraclitus, depicted in engraving from 1825, Wikipedia

And then there is: Change is inevitable. Come to expect it.

Recently I heard Joseph Goldman teach “Awareness of change and impermanence leads us to greater ease in our lives.”

I have a very long way to go before I accomplish what Goldman was teaching. Aware, yes. Accepting, much much harder to get there. How are you doing with all the changes in our lives these days? Have you been able to find the latest Covid-19 data in the midst of other news? Outbreaks of the virus barely being reported or commented upon. SO many people here in Ohio running around in public with no masks and no intention of wearing a mask.

There are many things that this country needs to change. I agree with that. Getting humans to embrace change gracefully is another matter all together.

Can we become pliable in the hands of God and embrace changes as they come to us? We often said that my mother-in-law would have been happier if she could have embraced changes instead of fighting against them as they arose. Wondering now if Bob and I will be enabled to embrace what we must as this pandemic rolls on and the years catch up with us.

As my dear Episcopalian brothers and sisters taught me, “I will, with God’s help.” And I knowingly emphasize, “ONLY with God’s help.”

 For Jesus doesn’t change—yesterday, today, tomorrow, he’s always totally himself.

Hebrews 13:8 MSG