Prayer, Mental Health And Addiction

I have conflicted views on this subject.  Hey, me conflicted?  What’s new! Well into the rabbit hole we go.

Can prayer actually change the way I think?  Is it just a futile case of talking to myself?  I am not doubting the existence of God, because to me that is not logical.  I suppose in a way I’m not even doubting the fact that God ‘listens’ to heartfelt prayers.

That’s all well and good I say.

But, I’m not sure what I expect from God when I pray?  Maybe for ‘Him’ to tell me that everything is ok, that I am doing the right things, heck, even that he has my back.  What do I get from prayer is essentially nothing, what was I expecting?  Not sure.

I’m sure I’m not the only person who feels this way.  I know, I have to have faith that if the prayer is from the heart then God will hear.  Am I totally selfish to think that isn’t enough?

Maybe that is my problem, maybe it’s the fact that I am expecting something.  Is it that I can’t let go, that in some way I have to be in control of the outcome?  That’s actually weird to think that in some way my small pathetic little ego is actually trying to control God!  Do I need to place boundaries between my and God, maybe the problem is that I have erected boundaries and I am not aware of them?

I feel that a lot of people who pray for help with their issues are happy to believe that God was heard them.  It’s not the same for me, belief is not enough, I need to know.  I want concrete proof that I have been heard and things are being acted upon.  Nobody phones a friend engages in a conversation and then hangs up and says they believe they had a conversation with a friend.  They know it.  So if God is real, why should it be any different?

I am reminded of a story that pretty much sums up what I am trying to understand.

I Sent You a Rowboat

A very religious man was once caught in rising floodwaters. He climbed onto the roof of his house and trusted God to rescue him. A neighbour came by in a canoe and said, “The waters will soon be above your house. Hop in and we’ll paddle to safety.”

“No thanks” replied the religious man. “I’ve prayed to God and I’m sure he will save me”

A short time later the police came by in a boat. “The waters will soon be above your house. Hop in and we’ll take you to safety.”

“No thanks” replied the religious man. “I’ve prayed to God and I’m sure he will save me”

A little time later a rescue services helicopter hovered overhead, let down a rope ladder and said. “The waters will soon be above your house. Climb the ladder and we’ll fly you to safety.”

“No thanks” replied the religious man. “I’ve prayed to God and I’m sure he will save me”

All this time the floodwaters continued to rise, until soon they reached above the roof and the religious man drowned. When he arrived at heaven he demanded an audience with God. Ushered into God’s throne room he said, “Lord, why am I here in heaven? I prayed for you to save me, I trusted you to save me from that flood.”

“Yes you did my child” replied the Lord. “And I sent you a canoe, a boat and a helicopter. But you never got in.”

Source: unknown.

So in essence God doesn’t communicate the way my ego wishes for God to communicate.  It doesn’t change the fact that prayer seems a very one way form of communication.  That I may never know that my prayers have actually been heard, let alone acted upon, unless of course a miracle happens.

I really only have two courses of action here.

  1. To give up on prayer as a pointless and futile exercise.
  2. To accept that prayer is what it is, and learn to have faith that it is heard and acted upon.

Which is the easiest choice to make, and which is the right choice.  I am prone to taking the negative path much of the time, so I choose to go with the path of faith.

Lets see where this path leads.

I just found this rather fitting story, so I would like to end with these rather striking words.

Even When He’s Silent

 

The Holocaust is one of the terribly traumatic episodes of modern history, yet it has also yielded some astounding stories of bravery and faith. In France a Jewish family were hidden by some concerned French nationals in the basement of their house. The Jewish family waited and waited for their deliverance. At the end of the war these words were found scribbled on the wall of that basement:

“I believe in the sun even when it does not shine.
I believe in love even when it is not given.
I believe in God even when he is silent.”

Source: reported in Hans, God on the Witness Stand (Baker, 1987)

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One comment

  1. I found this very interesting and have discovered that addicts trying to rectify their spiritual/religious beliefs is a fascinating process, because like so much in our lives, it was driven mainly be ego in the past.

    I’m not a big fan of the G word and don’t subscribe to any religion, but as long as you’re not telling me how to live, I don’t care if you attach an imaginary friend and codify your beliefs into a holy book, whatever that book may be. Through writing my book, though, I came to recognize that I do have a tremendous amount of faith. I believe the universe acts as the great balancer of energy. Sometimes it lifts you up, sometimes it knocks you on your ass.

    I don’t remember who said it, but I loved the quote, “When most people pray, they are asking that the laws of nature be specifically suspended for them.” It’s true. Most people want material possessions or some kind of intervention like making people healthy. When you think about it, both are selfish in very different ways.

    I appreciate the serenity prayer as a good code for life, but limit my praying to this sentence: “Please make sure whatever is supposed to happen, does.” I can analyze what happens later, but in looking over my life, I’ve found that while there are moments in the present I don’t understand the meaning of, usually with time the universe’s intentions become clear. I just need to trust that right now, it’s all good and as it’s supposed to be.

    Liked by 1 person

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