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 11 of Alcoholics Anonymous
When I got sober a bunch of years ago, the “God thing” was an obstacle to overcome, but I was willing and committed to addressing the issue head-on. Over the years, I jettisoned the God of my youth for a spiritual path aligned to the basic approach of the 12 steps. I have not opted for the secular sobriety route of God as a coffee cup, good orderly direction, or similar notions. I strive for the conscious contact of “God as we understood Him” found in both the Third and Eleventh Steps. While watching a video featuring Adam Hamilton, a pastor of The United Methodist Church, I was completely blown away to recognize that we each start our day in exactly the same way – simply praying to the “God as we understood” that God to direct our life toward his/her/its will for that day.
So here is where this “Why” question raises itself again for me. I am not an intercessory prayer kind of guy and I really take this prayer business pretty seriously. I see prayer as very much a commitment to action on my part and not simply some magical God thing. Prayer is a commitment that I am going to do something about it and be in community with a True Self and get out of my ego-driven False Self. I see no logic in praying to get a good grade on a test without studying for the test. That would be just God magic. Same thing if I prayed to remain sober but took no actions to accomplish same.
My intercessory prayers generally require action on my part. The night I got sober, I was so wracked with spiritual, emotional, and physical chaos, I distinctly remember looking upward and saying something like “please remove the insanity in my head and the addiction in my body.” Then, as I was raised a Roman Catholic, I decided being on my knees might work better, so I dropped the tool I had in my hand – I didn’t want to be too obvious – knelt down to pick it up and repeated my prayer. But sobriety has required me to take action and responsibility for recovery.
I don’t mean this all as some self-congratulatory reflection on my spiritual existence. I still come back to the Why Me? and consider myself incredibly blessed in all aspects of my life.
But then . . . there was the time with intercessory prayer, I was in rural Peru, and got an email that said my favorite dog ever who had grown old was going down hill fast and had not stood up in two days. I would not be back home for another 2 weeks. I laid in my sleeping bag that night and asked for Buddy just to hold on until I got home. The next day he was running around outside again, and lived for another six months.