Throughout my years of sobriety, I have discovered the many benefits of prayer. Some are obvious while some are more subtle. One thing I’ve learned that has been crucial to my recovery from alcohol and drug addiction is that I can’t control life on my own.
I need prayer in order to constantly remind myself every day that I’m not actually in charge of the universe. In fact, I’m not actually in charge of much—other than my own immediate actions right here, right now. Learning this fact has been one of the most liberating revelations of my life.
For so long, I thought I could control everything about life, especially the outcomes. But when things didn’t turn out exactly as I planned, which was usually the case, I grew angry, frustrated and resentful.
I thought that if I could just get my hands gripped tightly around life’s throat, I could strangle it into submission and achieve everything I wanted or thought I deserved. Suffice it to say, this isn’t how life works. Trying to control life is like trying to drink the ocean.
As time went by and I wasn’t getting everything I wanted in life, the resentment compounded and I became my own walking pity party. There’s an expression that states:
Resentment is like swallowing poison then waiting for the other person to die.
That’s exactly how it was for me. Before I began to incorporate prayer into my daily life, I kept swallowing the poison of resentment and wondering why things never seemed to improve. I became an unpleasant person to be around and began to lose close relationships. After all, there’s nothing worse than trying to be friends with an angry, bitter drunk.
It took me a very long time to learn to live life on life’s terms, not my own. What I’ve come to realize is that life has its own way of working out, and it often goes in a direction I don’t anticipate or expect. To quote John Lennon: “Life is what happens while you’re busy making other plans.”
This is a concept I’ve learned to embrace. Do I still make plans for the future? Yes, of course. Do I still have ambition for things I want to achieve in life? Yes, absolutely. But the key for me is to recognize that my plans, however small or grandiose, are only ideas about how things should turn out. I try my best in everything I do, but I leave the results up to God.
When I pray, it reminds me that I need to turn my will, my life and the results of my actions, over to something other than my own ego. Gratitude, no matter what the outcome might be, is the only thing I can control. So, I always try to remain thankful for what I have, while accepting what I don’t have. And I remember that I’m definitely not in charge of the universe.
Benefits of prayer include:
- Communication with God or the source of life
- An opportunity to offer humility and gratitude
- A way to search for answers and direction
- A chance to align my will with God’s will
- A moment to release my ego and pride
- A source of emotional and physical strength
- A time to clarify my desires and goals (whatever the outcome might be)
- A way to find motivation and inspiration
- A way to accept life on life’s terms
Even a few minutes of prayer each day can yield remarkable benefits. You receive maximum benefit for minimal effort. What you get out of praying compared to what you put into it is almost hard to believe. It’s like being able to go to the gym for just a few minutes every day and get in amazing physical shape. But instead of ripped abs and bulging biceps, you’ll achieve something deeper and longer-lasting: serenity and peace of mind.
If you can just find a few moments out of your day, every day, to express your gratitude, say thank you, and ask for guidance you will be amazed at what can transpire in your life. And your prayers don’t have to be complicated or esoteric. Just pray in a simple and straightforward manner to reap the benefits. Sometimes you can pray for yourself, sometimes for others. Whoever or whatever you pray for, always have faith that there is more to your life than what you can see, hear, taste or touch. There is the unseen realm of the spirit, a spirit of love and giving that can be accessed through your mind just as electricity is accessed through a light switch.
Reach out to the unseen with simplicity and faith, let go of resentment, always knowing that your prayers will be met and that you’re on a path to greater awareness and growth.
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