Praying for Recovery: Psalms and Meditations

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9781558747883: Praying for Recovery: Psalms and Meditations
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This book is dedicated to helping all recovering addicts find and deepen a connection to their Higher Power, however they define it. Praying for Recovery is for confirmed believers or not-yet-believers looking for a new spiritual path.

The author presents his own experience in overcoming his skepticism about a personal God and learning to pray for recovery with an open heart. Especially for this book he has translated Psalms that were instrumental in helping him to make the Twelve Steps a spiritual path for himself. The book offers them to other recovering addicts, along with accompanying prayers and meditations.

Praying for Recovery can be used either by those working the twelve Steps for the first time, or by individuals who continue to revisit individual steps as part of their ongoing recovery. The book invites readers to build their own experiences of prayer upon the psalms and mediations presented here.

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About the Author:

In keeping with the spirit of the Twelve-Step program, the author has chosen to remain anonymous. While personal, the book is not so much about the author as it is about the spiritual benefits of the Twelve Step path, seen from the vantage point of the biblical Psalms. The author's Hebrew pen name, adapted from the psalms, means "My God is my help."

Excerpt. © Reprinted by permission. All rights reserved.:

Why I Wrote This Book

It has been said that all addiction is search for God, though addicts unfortunately search in the wrong places — whether in alcohol, drugs, gambling, food, pornography, or work, or in another person, through codependency, sex, or love. In order to recover from addiction, addicts must learn to search elsewhere for their Higher Power.

Many recovering addicts, however, have difficulties with prayer and traditional notions of God. For some, childhood experiences of religious communities and leaders have left them feeling alienated from organized religion. At the same time, they are learning Twelve-Step programs that in order to ground themselves and find the spiritual center from which their recovery can grow, they need to cultivate their spirituality. Others, who may have strong religious beliefs, presently often feel alienated from God. Feeling guilt about the harm they caused themselves and others during their active addiction, newly recovering addicts can all too easily shy away from contact with their higher power at a time when it is crucial to reopen those channels of communication. This book is dedicated to helping all recovering addicts find and deepen a connection to their Higher Power, however they define it, whether they are confirmed believers or no-yet-believers looking for a new spiritual path.

IÆd like to say a few words about how I came to write this book. I wrote it when I came into recovery for the second time. In my previous encounter with a Twelve-Step program I had not adequately used the basic tools of recovery. In over two years, I did not find a sponsor; only rarely did I draw on the support of others in the program outside the meeting rooms, and I never got beyond my doubts in the existence of a higher power to draw on prayer and meditation as aids to recovery. I tried to recover by my will alone, and as anyone who has recovered from addiction will tell you, that is simply not possible. The will of the addict is stronger than the unaided will of the recovering person. Inevitably, I went back to my old ways, causing great pain and humiliation to myself, my family and those who had put their trust in me.

The second time around I was determined to make the recovery program stick — and I knew that to do so, I had to make it my own. This book represents my efforts in learning to pray for recovery. The idea of a personal God was to me a remote and somewhat alien concept. For me, as for so many Jews of my generation, the biblical God in whom we were taught to believe as children was shattered by what I had learned of the NazisÆ destruction of EuropeÆs Jews. I came to see, though, that I had to get beyond this block to recovery form addiction and save my life from the degradation into which it had sunk. I had to learn to pray with a full and open heart, even if I did not know to whom or to what I was addressing my prayers.

Before then I had said many prayers, but as a lifelong agnostic I had little experience in really talking and listening to God. The biblical psalmists, I found, had come before me to show me the path they had walked. When I ha no words of my own, I could try on their words and their wisdom. When I had to learn the vocabulary of gratitude, they reminded me how much I had to be grateful for. Their feelings of anguish and exaltation, their affirmations and their doubts — all were relevant to the journey I was taking. The psalmists gave me strength, courage and hope. Through their example, I learned to pray for my own recovery.

Just as I joined my prayer experiences to those of the psalmists, so I invite readers to build their own experiences of prayer upon the psalms and meditations I present in this book. There is an important saying in the Twelve-Step movement: ôplace principles before personalities.ö While these meditations began as personal reflections, they are more importantly a distillation of wisdom that came to me through the Twelve-Step program. They correlate the words of the Psalms with each of the Twelve Steps and with the spiritual work that particular step entails for recovering addicts. Praying for Recovery can be used for the first time, or by those who continue to revisit individual steps as part of their ongoing recovery. The index also points readers to specific concerns that they may wish to address in their prayers.

The early passages in the book are intended to help us acknowledge our suffering as addicts. Having accepted ourselves as addicts, we still need to understand and cope with our painful withdrawal from active addiction. As we face the spiritual and emotional challenges of living without addiction, we need to develop alternate ways of being in the world. One of these is a commitment, new to many of us, to make daily contact with a Higher Power. Through this contact, modeled in the selections from Psalms and in the bookÆs contemporary prayers, we can experience important goals of the recovery process firsthand: a lifelong learning about ourselves and a spiritual awakening that gradually allows us to share the blessings and promises of emotional sobriety with others.

My hope has been to keep this book from being a narrow prescription for how to pray for recovery. I have tried to leave as open as possible the mystery of how Spirit works in my life and in the collective life of the recovering community. Having learned to experience the presence and direction of my Higher Power through praying the Psalms, I am very clear that this contact has brought me many wonderful gifts. In sharing the gifts of strength and hope that I have gained through making the words of the Psalms my own, I help to make it easier for others to see recovery as the spiritual path it is.



Step One

We admitted we were powerless
over our addictive behavior —
that our lives had become
unmanageable.


My Life Has Become Unmanageable

I am drowning in the muddy slime,
and there is no foothold;
I have waded into the watery deep
And the flood sweeps over me.
I am wearied with calling;
My throat is parched.


—Ps. 69:3-4

For the longest time, I could live in my addiction and seem to manage my life. But now that is no longer possible. The addiction has overwhelmed me and I might as well be drowning.

I pursued my drug of choice without any regard to the consequences for me or for others. Even after I began to experience negative consequences, I persisted. But now the costs are too great to bear any longer. My addictive compulsions have finally cost me respect in my eyes and in the eyes of others.

The chaos now reigning in my life is more than I can manage. I want to rejoin those whose lives make sense. But where do I begin? I am powerless over my addiction. If I do not get help soon, it will surely destroy me.


(c)2000. All rights reserved. Reprinted from Praying for Recovery by Eli Ezry. No part of this publication may be reproduced, stored in a retrieval system or transmitted in any form or by any means, without the written permission of the publisher. Publisher: Simcha Press, 3201 SW 15th Street, Deerfield Beach, FL 33442.

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