By David Joel Miller
The Prayer Tool.
People in recovery need to use all their tools. Spiritual tools are important just as professional and social ones are. Tools work best when they are used in a safe manner and in my opinion that includes spiritual tools also.
Power tools come with instruction books and with safety guides. There is always some person (fool?) out there who takes off the safety guard and misuses the tool. Sometimes they cut off a finger. Sometimes they hurt others.
They have neglected to read the instructions or follow the safety warnings. They results are not what they wanted. I am told, and I tend to agree with this, that there are safe and there are unsafe ways to use this prayer tool of yours.
This is the brief abstracted version of the prayer tool instructions. It is based on the use of the 12 step prayer model but will work when used with most similar prayer models. For more complete instructions consult the 12 step book of your choice or your religious instruction manual.
Here are the tips.
Use Prayer to communicate not as a request list.
Most of us pray like the greedy little children we really are, waiting for a big haul at Christmas time.
“Please God send me a new better paying job, a new car, a better looking spouse and I need that by Friday before the big class reunion.”
Twelve-steppers are taught to pray to their higher power, “Only for the knowledge of his will for us and the power to carry that out.”
What we learn is that our Higher Power can help with our needs, which that Power already knows. But our wants may not be the best thing for us.
You Higher Power is not limited to only one response.
Lots of people say prayer does not work because they say that God does not answer their prayers. The reason they think that are either they haven’t tried it very often or they don’t recognize the answers when they get them.
Your higher power may say “yes”, or “no” or “not just yet you need to wait a while.” My particular Higher Power seems to have a sense of humor. Sometimes I have gotten the answer “you want what?” Then I get what I asked for and find it is not what I had in mind.
I am learning more and more to just ask for that knowledge of his will for me and stop making dumb requests. I said learning not that I had perfected this.
Do not try to use this tool to force God to do what you already wanted to do.
You pray for rain. You get it. You want to take on the responsibility for the flooding?
I was told – in no uncertain terms “There is a God – And you’re not him.” It works better when I stop trying to do his job and just stick to mine.
Prayer should not be a one-sided conversation.
Ever talked to someone and they did all the talking? Was that a satisfying conversation? Really?
Your conversations with the Higher Power need to be two-way conversations. So you pray, which means you talk. So how does this higher power communicate back?
Careful here. You need to learn to tell the difference between the Higher Powers comments and the lies that some of those unruly nerve cells in your brain may be telling you.
The meditation tool.
That brings us to another Spiritual tool for your recovery tool kit. Meditation – listening for your Higher Powers voice.
Wait – don’t leave just yet. Meditation, it turns out is nothing like that cartoon version you see in the media.
P.S. – By saying Higher Power, God or Him- I am not meaning to exclude any of your for whom that spiritual being is a Her, Them, force or so on. Just English is such a problematic language in that regard. So if you understand your Higher Power as some other entity, make the necessary translations.
Next time – Higher Power Listening skills.
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For more about David Joel Miller and my work in the areas of mental health, substance abuse and Co-occurring disorders see the about the author page. For information about my other writing work beyond this blog check out my Google+ page or the Facebook author’s page, up under David Joel Miller. Posts to the “books, trainings and classes” category will tell you about those activities. If you are in the Fresno California area, information about my private practice is at counselorfresno.com. A list of books I have read and can recommend is over at Recommended Books