What does it mean to spend time with God? The foundation of our treatment program is based on the 12 Steps of Alcoholics Anonymous.
One of the cornerstones of the 12 Steps comes from handing our will and our lives over to the care of God as we understand Him. Many of us have different ideas of what God is, and we all have differing beliefs. We are not here to force one path or concept over another, but we do believe in the absolute necessity of having a willingness to put our faith and trust in a power greater than ourselves in order to recover from alcoholism or substance addiction.
Even if we are not 100% certain what that power is, we must build, maintain and grow a relationship with God, in whatever way that resonates with us.
For any relationship to work, we must put in the effort and invest our time – and the same goes for nurturing a relationship with that Higher Power. It can be easy for us to assume that time with God is reserved only for those who have it all figured out, but this is not so. Even those who have lived in the despair that is addiction can have a relationship with God if they choose to. So, whether this is the first time you have thought about spending time with God, or you already believe in a power greater than yourself; we welcome you.
Every one of us is unique in our needs and desires, and at Brazos Recovery Services, we know that everyone can benefit from putting their faith in a Higher Power. Time spent connecting with the God of your understanding means deepening a relationship with a power that can help you accept what has gone before as you recover from alcoholism or substance addiction, and can help guide you towards a new perspective of your current circumstances. It is comforting to know there is a way out if only we have faith.
Through a regular commitment to spend time with God, we form a closer relationship with that power and what it can do for us. As with all spiritual practices, it can take some time to get used to or to find what works for you, but we want you to know that it does work – we are living proof of it – you just have to find the time and space to dedicate to it.
Set a Time and Place
It doesn’t have to be hours and hours – it can be as little as ten minutes each morning or night that you set aside to spend time with God. The important thing is to dedicate the time like you would anything else in your schedule. Just as we brush our teeth, shower and dress every day, forming a daily habit of communicating with your Higher Power will eventually become second nature, and the practice will enrich your life.
Read the Big Book of AA
We understand reading the Big Book can be a daunting prospect initially, but you don’t have to read the whole thing, or even start at the beginning. We’ll guide you through it and point out the passages that can improve your understanding of what a Higher Power is, give insights if you are struggling, and help you to improve conscious contact.
Picking up the Big Book for a few minutes every day is a great way to expand your understanding and improve your chances of recovery. Sometimes simply meditating on a single page or paragraph can be all you need to sense that Higher Power.
There is no right or wrong way to pray, and there are several prayers in the AA Big Book. One that is well known is the Third Step Prayer:
I offer myself to Thee
To build with me & to do with me as Thou wilt.
Relieve me of the bondage of self, that I may better do Thy will.
Take away my difficulties,
That victory over them may bear witness
To those, I would help of Thy Power,
Thy love & Thy way of life,
May I do Thy will always!”
We can all say this simple prayer every day, handing over our troubles to God. Of course, there is also the famous serenity prayer which is recited at every 12 Step meeting:
“God grant me the Serenity to accept the things I cannot change,
The courage to change the things I can, and
The wisdom to know the difference.”
Journal or Inventory
Writing a journal or noting down an inventory (which is commonplace in recovery circles) is one way we encourage residents to spend time with God, especially if reading or sitting quietly is challenging for you.
Journaling can be done in the form of writing, drawing or doodling – however you feel you can talk to God best. It is profoundly therapeutic too and can sometimes result in beautiful keepsakes or pieces of artwork.
Inventory taking is a more structured way of addressing thoughts, feelings and behaviors, and asking God for the direction to rectify any issues.
Communicating with God will often result in answers to questions, the solving of problems or the acceptance of fears. If you are unsure about how to improve your communication or how to decipher your feelings, we are here to help answer your questions. There is no right or wrong question, and it is healthy and helpful to explore what we are unsure of or can’t quite figure out on our own.
Many of us need someone to hold us accountable. As with so many other habits, spending time with our Higher Power can easily slip and become something we forget to do or don’t make time for. Your fellow residents will be looking for that same accountability, so it’s useful to agree to check in every day with one of your peers after you’ve spent time with God and share what you’ve learned.
Listen to Music
Some days we just don’t feel like showing up, and we understand that. But often, when we don’t feel like doing something, that is precisely the time when we should, as doing it anyway is the best antidote. Whatever our mood, listening to appropriate music is a sure-fire way to soak in the presence of God.
Learn to Be Still and Listen
Shutting out the distractions, and noise of what is going on around us can be challenging, and it is something we all struggle with as human beings. Just as with meditation, we can learn to be still, tune in to our thoughts and feelings and listen to our intuition. Even five minutes of quiet time can make a difference.
“Be still and know that I am God.” Psalm 46:10
If you would like to enhance your understanding of a Higher Power further, we recommend working with our therapists. They understand what it means to grow spiritually, and can guide you through the Big Book and support you in nurturing that part of your recovery journey.
We can help you choose a path, or you can create your own with other residents.
Time with God is a journey for all of us.