Prayer And Recovery

Prayer And Recovery

You can tell a lot about somebody by their prayers.

Prayer seems as natural as breathing for many people.  Almost everybody prays.  More than half of America prays daily.  The number goes up dramatically if we include weekly prayer.  There are even persons without a religion who pray, if the surveys and polls are to be believed.  Lifting our hearts and minds to God appears almost instinctual.  We talk to Him about our needs, complaints, and difficulties.  We solicit guidance, offer thanks, and ask pardon for wrongs, too.

While prayer is common, there is a lot of diversity in the content of our prayers.  Beyond our immediate needs, our prayers may be very different depending on who we are and our concept of God.  For example, should we pray for stuff like, say, ice cream?  What about wealth and worldly success?  Or someone who has died?  Or the complete destruction of our enemies?  People of various denominations and beliefs respond to such questions differently, either answering “yes” or “no,” or “it depends.”  The upshot, however, is that people pray according to their character and understanding of God.

This is more than an academic matter.  Prayers like the ones just mentioned are commonplace on social media.  Nevertheless, our intent here is not to unravel their merits.  We merely point out that they reveal something beyond the actual request being made.  They divulge insight about the temperament and theology of the person or persons who make such requests of God.  

Which brings us to CORE.  We teach the recovery program outlined in the Big Book of Alcoholics Anonymous.  Prayer is integral to the 12 Step program, even though AA is not a religious denomination and doesn’t promote any particular church.  The Big Book broadly suggests that we pray for God’s “protection and care with complete abandon.”  Step Eleven specifically directs us to seek “through prayer and meditation to improve our conscious contact with God as we [understand] Him, praying only for knowledge of His will for us and the power to carry that out.”  The Big Book is replete with instructions about prayer, all of which are part and parcel of its clear-cut, precise directions for recovery.

With the foregoing in mind, we offer below an outline of what prayer necessarily includes for us at CORE who are recovered.  We’re talking everybody – starting from our CEO and down to our clients, staff, and residence managers.  This comes from the Big Book recovery program we were taught as clients and since have learned to apply in our daily lives.  Our hope is that the Reader will find such disclosure revealing, that it will shed light on who we are and our understanding of God.

For us who have recovered, prayer begins each morning when we wake up and meditate on the day ahead.  (Yes, meditation also is “a thing” at CORE.)  “Before we begin, we ask God to direct our thinking, especially asking that it be divorced from self-pity, dishonest or self-seeking motives.”  In keeping with our mission to carry the message of recovery to others, we specifically ask God what we can do for people who are still sick, and ask that He show us “the way of patience, tolerance, kindliness and love.”  If we face indecision during meditation, “we ask God for inspiration, an intuitive thought or decision.”  

We conclude the period of meditation “with a prayer that we be shown all through the day what our next step is to be, that we be given whatever we need to take care of […] problems.  We ask especially for freedom from self-will, and are careful to make no request for ourselves only.”  In fact, we “are careful never to pray for our own selfish ends” and may ask for ourselves only if others will be helped.  

Although morning meditations are considered a time of orientation and planning, we may freely supplement them with a devotion from a religious denomination, and with prayers obtained from other religious sources.  

During our daily lives we are bound to carry the vision of God’s will into all our activities.  Thus, it is common practice among us to remind ourselves that God is running the show that is our lives.  We humbly pray “How can I best serve Thee – Thy will (not mine) be done.”  In all of our dealings, love and tolerance of others is our code.  “We continue to watch for selfishness, dishonesty, resentment, and fear.  When these crop up, we ask God at once to remove them.”   Our further practice is to “pause, when agitated or doubtful, and ask for the right thought or action.”

In the evenings we do another meditation.  We ask ourselves, “Were we resentful, selfish, dishonest or afraid?  Do we owe an apology?  Have we kept something to ourselves which should be discussed with another person at once?  Were we kind and loving toward all?  What could we have done better?  Were we thinking of ourselves most of the time?  Or were we thinking of what we could pack into the stream of life?”  During this meditation we are careful not to drift into worry, remorse or morbid reflection, as this is thought to diminish our usefulness to others.  “After making our review we ask God’s forgiveness and inquire what corrective measures should be taken.”  

The foregoing summarizes the overall structure of our daily prayer practice and its themes.  This is how we pray, both in substance and in confident anticipation of God’s response.  Our customs may strike the Reader as unfamiliar, but over time they have become a familiar, natural part of our thinking and daily routine.  

Keep in mind that this isn’t the limit of Big Book guidance about prayer.  Still other guidance relates to particular Steps which may or may not be prayed daily.  As an example, there is the Third Step prayer, where we expressly turn our will and life over to the care of God.  We specifically ask that God relieve us from the “bondage of self, that I may better do Thy will.  Take away my difficulties, that victory over them may bear witness to those I would help of Thy Power, Thy Love, and Thy Way of life.”  Still another is the Fourth Step, where there are several suggested prayers, but one of which is what we pray concerning those about whom we hold resentments.  We ask God “to help us show them the same tolerance, pity, and patience that we would cheerfully grant a sick friend.”  And, in the Sixth and Seventh Steps we ask for willingness to let go and that God “remove from me every single [character] defect which stands in the way of my usefulness to You and my fellows.”  

Additional direction about prayer within the Big Book addresses still other specific, life problems that, again, may or may not be encountered daily.  As a whole the Big Book guides our recovery culture and, ultimately, our corporate culture.  The above encompasses the prayer strategy we pursue daily.  Our hope is that this peek into our common practice enlightens the Reader about who we are at CORE.

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Above all, CORE is a Christian organization that isn’t shy about prayer.  We teach that the Bible is inspired, inerrant, and infallible.  At CORE’s recovery centers, our staff members lead prayer during individual meetings, staff meetings, classes, and groups.  The clients living in our residential facilities pray before and after house meetings.  At our weekly worship services, we give praise and pray before and after the message, and at the beginning and end of the service.  We also maintain a prayer list for individuals in need, and we hold weekly Monday Morning Prayer for clients at all our recovery centers.  Prayer is an important part of every special event, too.  In all of our activities, we try to take to heart Paul’s words, “Rejoice always, pray without ceasing, in everything give thanks; for this is the will of God for you in Christ Jesus.”