Guide to Recovery

Prayer ‘Effectiveness’

If we do not pray daily, we may find prayer pointless or boring, and the prospect of daily prayer may feel impossible, or like a waste of time.  We may have prayed in the past for specific things, and not received those things when, where, and how we wanted to receive them, if at all.  And this may have undermined our faith in the power of prayer to such an extent that we gave up on it.  These are sure signs that we need to re-approach prayer with new eyes.

If we have no relationship with Christ, we need to take a single step toward Him, in prayer.  The good news is that for every step we take toward Christ, He will take two steps toward us.  St. Paul wrote to his fellow disciples that if we die with Christ — that is, if we surrender ourselves entirely to Christ’s loving guidance and mercy, “we shall also live with him.”  And, “if we persevere we shall also reign with Him.  But if we deny him, he will deny us.  If we are unfaithful, he remains faithful, for he cannot deny himself.” [3]  This simply means that He is here for us.  He is always faithful, even when we are unfaithful.  So even if we ignore Him, He is faithfully waiting for us to turn back to Him.  He is also faithful to his gift of free will.  So if we choose to deny Him, He will respect our decision and deny us in return.  Praying to Christ every day is how we persevere. It is the one sure way we create a meaningful relationship with Him. And it is how we remain faithful to Him.

As we embark on a new journey of prayer and faith, we may find ourselves asking for things from God, such as immediate healing from our addiction.  God may decide not to fulfill such requests.   This may discourage us or lead us to conclude that prayer does not ‘work.’  This commonly stems from a misunderstanding of the nature of prayer and our relationship to God.

God does not run a mail order service.  Jesus is not Amazon Prime. When He said ask and you shall receive, seek and you will find, knock and the door shall be opened for you, He was referring primarily to those gifts that God knows will be best for us.[4]  Certainly God is capable, and sometimes willing, to perform miracles such as healings, and the provision of material goods. He does that all the time. Even when we don’t ask for it.  But He, being eternal, is aware of the ramifications of our short earthly lives on our afterlives.

Since God created us — mind, body, and soul, He cares deeply for every part of us. However, His first priority is our soul. Try this for a thought experiment: would you do something difficult and/or unpleasant, such as pushing and rolling very heavy stones, up to the top of a hill, for one whole working day, if it would earn you two days relaxing at a tropical island resort (all expenses paid, of course). Some of us would say no, because the cost-benefit ratio is too small. So let’s improve the payoff. How about two weeks vacation for one day of labor? All expenses paid. At one of the most exclusive and luxurious island resorts in all the world. At this point most of us would say yes. One rough day is a fair payment for fourteen unforgettably awesome days.

Now let’s apply this same rationale to our souls. Someday you are going to die, and your time here on earth will determine how you will spend the better part of eternity. So while we rush around fretting over our health, our finances, our possessions, our careers, and what others think of us, God is busying Himself focusing on the state of our souls.  This life is very, very, very short, when compared with eternity.  If you have a child, you want what is best for her or him in the long run. Sometimes that means teaching them a difficult lesson.  Sometimes that means reprimanding and punishing them.  We do these things not out of malice or apathy, but so they will learn right from wrong, and grow into good people. This is how our Father in heaven cares for us. His priorities for our well-being are greater than our own priorities.  We only see the cookie we want. He sees hyperactivity, misbehavior, rotting teeth, and dental bills.  We only see the pool we want to swim in. He sees us drowning because we do not yet know how to swim.  We see fame, fortune, success, and perfect health.  He sees a life apt to fall into spiritual sloth, greed, lust, pride, and an absence of compassion for the suffering of others.  We see our lives in the here and now, and the foreseeable future.  He sees how our souls may spend all of eternity.   He is our Father, we should ask Him to bless us with the gifts of the Holy Spirit, and help us learn and grow through our trials in life, rather than ask Him for specific worldly things all the time.  But most importantly we should trust His judgment.  We should trust Him to provide us with exactly what we need — suffering included — exactly when we need it.

When we pray to God the Father, Jesus Christ, and the Holy Spirit, every day, in a spirit of total trust and surrender to the one true God’s Holy Will, which is Love and Mercy itself, I guarantee you will discover newfound peace.  He will turn to you, acknowledge you, and offer His friendship and support.  Without exaggeration, you will be transformed.  But first, you must persevere.

“The one who commits their work to the Lord, will see their plans established.”[5]

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