Safe use of your Spiritual – Prayer tool

By David Joel Miller, MS, Licensed Therapist & Licensed Counselor.

Praying.
Photo courtesy of Pixabay.com

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. The 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 toolkit. 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.

Staying connected with David Joel Miller

Two David Joel Miller Books are available now!

Bumps on the Road of Life. Whether you struggle with anxiety, depression, low motivation, or addiction, you can recover. Bumps on the Road of Life is the story of how people get off track and how to get your life out of the ditch.

Casino Robbery is a novel about a man with PTSD who must cope with his symptoms to solve a mystery and create a new life.

For these and my upcoming books; please visit my Amazon Author Page – David Joel Miller

Want the latest blog posts as they publish? Subscribe to this blog.

Want the latest on news from recoveryland, the field of counseling, my writing projects, speaking and teaching? Please sign up for my newsletter at – Newsletter. I promise not to share your email or to send you spam, and you can unsubscribe at any time.

For more about David Joel Miller and my work in the areas of mental health, substance abuse, and Co-occurring disorders see my Facebook author’s page, davidjoelmillerwriter. A list of books I have read and can recommend is over at Recommended Books. If you are in the Fresno California area, information about my private practice is at counselorfresno.com.

Are we in the middle of a spiritual famine?

By David Joel Miller, MS, Licensed Therapist & Licensed Counselor.

Religion

Religious cemetery.
Photo courtesy of Pixabay.com

Is there a Higher Power shortage?

Religious Symbols

Religious Symbols.

Recently I have been struck by the number of people who sit down with me to talk about their mental and emotional problems who say they are spiritual but can’t describe themselves as a member of any particular religion.

These clients know that they need some spiritual help, they often have some sort of general idea of a God or higher power that they feel could be particularly helpful to them, but they find no way to connect that belief in a higher power with any particular religious practice.

We know that for recovering people having a strong support system a key ingredient in their recovery. I suspect that having that resource is helpful in keeping other people mentally healthy also. But repeatedly I hear that despite multiple tries these folk are not getting their spiritual needs met at any particular religious organization.

As a professional, I try to not take sides in any religious controversies. It is not my place to tell you what you should believe. I find that having that spiritual belief, so long as it is helpful to you and does not encourage you to harm yourself or others, can be of great benefit to most everyone.

One question on the assessment form we use asks about the client having a particular religious or spiritual connection. Most clients can’t answer this one.

One common saying in recovery is that if you hang out in a barbershop you will get a haircut. We know this also applies to bars and crack houses, not getting a haircut there, but drinking and using drugs. So it makes sense that attending some sort of religious institution should help connect you with other supportive people who are working on their relationship with their higher power.

In trying to help clients find that support system, I often ask what religious or spiritual group they might choose to affiliate with. The suggestion here is that attending a particular church, temple, mosque, coven or what have you, might connect them with other people with similar spiritual beliefs. I make these suggestions despite my sometimes having personal misgivings about the particular religious group they have been affiliated with in the past.

A very large percentage of these folks report that they have tried and are unable to find a religious group that meets their spiritual needs.

It is not just my clients that have this problem. This situation is not unique to those who are in recovery from mental or emotional problems. It is not a special issue for just those who use or abuse drugs and alcohol. Nationwide surveys indicate that the number of people who report being spiritual rather than religious has been rising and in some surveys, those who describe themselves as spiritual rather than religious exceed those who have a particular religious affiliation.

It has been suggested that this move away from God and organized religion is the result of secular materialism and our modern culture. I find that hard to believe. Most of my clients have tried that culture of things and drugs, found it wanting and are searching for some spiritual values.

There is a spiritual hunger that is not getting fed. This hunger is approaching famine stage.

One reason for this spiritual hunger is that the food being offered in so many religious institutions has spoiled.

We do not need to pick on any particular religion to see the effects of this spiritual spoilage.

Christian groups splitter and hate each other. Wars occur because of doctrinal differences. The Protestants fight the Catholics and then they fight each other. The Muslims divide up into Sunni and Shiite and they then bomb and kill each other.

Clearly these religions Gods are grumpy cantankerous, constipated old men who hate anyone who does not wear the right clothing and join the correct political party.

Too many of my clients have been harmed by someone under the guise of being the servant of some particular God. When I suggest taking the family to church the client may confide in me about being sexually or physical abuse by a religious leader. They are afraid to leave their child alone with a religious leader.

They may have been told repeatedly that they are worthless and will never be of any value if they do not do the work prescribed by their religious leader. Once convinced you will never be satisfactory in your god’s eyes, you eventually give up trying. We call this learned helplessness.

When someone says they are an alcoholic I give thanks, I know where to send them. They will find a spiritual tradition and people who will accept them at an A.A. meeting. Drug addicts have N. A. I feel sorry for those who are merely depressed or anxious. I am not sure where to send them.

I find it hard to make religious referrals. Most places of worship do not want my clients. They dress funny, they have used drugs and some of them are mentally ill. Not many religions want those people around.

Where am I to send Mary Ann or Mary Sue? Churches do not want prostitutes or psychotic people coming to services. I am not sure I could make a referral for Mary Magdalena or even Jesus these days.

I am even worried about Mohammed if he were to return. If I send him to the wrong mosque will he die again, this time in a bombing?

Despite a church, mosque or other religious institution on most every corner, the spiritual famine continues. My only hope is that God is not restricted to doing business in a particular building and that spirituality can work anywhere.

So if your higher power has let you down consider a new search for a spiritual power and a spiritual home that can help you find that happy life you deserve.

For more on this topic take a look at a previous post here on counselorssoapbox.com about how to hire a God that is up to the task you need him for.

Wishing you the best on your road to a happy life

David Joel Miller, LMFT, LPCC

Staying connected with David Joel Miller

Two David Joel Miller Books are available now!

Bumps on the Road of Life. Whether you struggle with anxiety, depression, low motivation, or addiction, you can recover. Bumps on the Road of Life is the story of how people get off track and how to get your life out of the ditch.

Casino Robbery is a novel about a man with PTSD who must cope with his symptoms to solve a mystery and create a new life.

For these and my upcoming books; please visit my Amazon Author Page – David Joel Miller

Want the latest blog posts as they publish? Subscribe to this blog.

Want the latest on news from recoveryland, the field of counseling, my writing projects, speaking and teaching? Please sign up for my newsletter at – Newsletter. I promise not to share your email or to send you spam, and you can unsubscribe at any time.

For more about David Joel Miller and my work in the areas of mental health, substance abuse, and Co-occurring disorders see my Facebook author’s page, davidjoelmillerwriter. A list of books I have read and can recommend is over at Recommended Books. If you are in the Fresno California area, information about my private practice is at counselorfresno.com.