DISCLAIMER: Life Recovery Center is a secular organization. The views expressed herein do not represent the views of Life Recovery Center and solely represent the views of the author.
“We never know how God will answer our prayers, but we can expect that He will get us involved in His plan for the answer. If we are true intercessors, we must be ready to take part in God’s work on behalf of the people for whom we pray.” ― Corrie ten Boom
I wanted to share a story about my own journey and the single prayer that saved my life. I am a drug addict and alcoholic in recovery, with over twelve years clean and sober at the time of this article's publishing (originally published in 2011). My use began as an adolescent and followed me into young-adulthood. I found myself in undergraduate school, lost and throwing away everything good in my life; my relationships, my schooling, my self-esteem. I can remember looking in the mirror when I came back to my dorm room high and drunk and feeling so ashamed. I hated myself. I knew I didn’t want to live in this way, but no matter what I did or how hard I tried, I couldn’t stop drinking.
I had tried everything I could think of to stop my using. I tried to quit hanging out with my using friends—but would return to them after only two or three days (because I was lonely and wanted to use.) I tried not buying any drugs or booze—but would wind up hanging out with whoever had it at the time. I told myself, “I’ll only use on weekends”—without fail, the weekend would eventually begin on Thursday and end on Wednesday. I even tried to bargain with God by making deals and such—NOTHING worked.
It was a few days before Christmas break. There was a small chapel on campus that I had never stepped foot in. I went into the chapel and got on my knees. I asked God to help me to overcome my addiction, and said I didn’t care how it had to happen. I pleaded and trusted God to do with me as He chose. I promised that I would follow His lead and do whatever needed to be done.
This was the first time in my life when I feel that I TRULY prayed. I prayed with every cell of my being. I asked God for help and I meant it. I had tried everything I could think of and had been defeated by my addiction every time. I knew for the first time in my life that the answers had to come from somewhere other than me. I was open-minded and willing to do whatever it took.
During Christmas break, a friend of mine and I picked up a bag of pot and went “window farming.” In small towns, such as where I grew up, there are lots of back roads and corn fields, so we would get some drugs and beer and ride around out in the country getting stoned. It just so happened that on this particular night, there were two cars on the back roads—mine and a police officer. We were pulled over, charged with possession, and thrown in jail. I remember being handcuffed and my car being towed away. I felt like a piece of garbage, but in the strangest way, I was relieved. I knew that I would be in trouble, and that I would be pushed to get the help I so desperately needed.
I was taken to jail and phoned my parents. They bailed me out using money that my little brother had received for Christmas. I remember my Mom asking me in the car, “Do you think you need help?” I answered that I did and that I wanted to seek treatment for my addiction. My parents were very disappointed in me, but were supportive and loving as always.
They went to the prosecutor’s office one day during the holidays with the hope that (by some act of God) he may be there. Amazingly, he was. My parents advocated for me, letting him know that I truly wanted help and that I was willing to do whatever I could to make things right. He agreed to dismiss my charges given that I stayed out of trouble and completed treatment.
In treatment I learned a lot. On the day of my graduation, I promised my peers in group that I was going to finish my degree and go into the field of addiction. In an odd twist of fate, I obtained a job as a Therapist at that same facility about six years later.
I would not be the person I am today without my prayer being answered. Although the answer to my prayer was packaged in an arrest and a long battle against the disease of addiction, I’m very grateful that things happened the way they did. I have such an appreciation for the blessings in my life. I have a wonderful family and amazing friends today. I have been blessed with a career that allows me to help others battle the same disease I have struggled with for most of my life. I am able to live a life that is happy, joyous, and free; free from the grips of my terrible illness.
Sometimes the answers to our prayers are packaged in ways that don’t seem very appetizing—I know mine certainly didn’t look very pretty at first glance. We may not even see the blessings that await us within these tragedies until much later down the road. I find peace in knowing that God loves me and will provide exactly what I need at the time. It is simply up to me to allow it to happen.
When I look back at my first “real” prayer from 1997, I am reminded that all I had to do was believe. That is where the power comes from. We believe and let it be so, and so it is. I can now see the many prayers in my life that have been answered. I strive to maintain a conscious contact with God each and every day of my life. I think of the poem Footprints by Mary Stevenson—it was in the most troubling time in my life that the Lord carried me.