"God, I am sorry for falling again. Please take this away from me! Please heal me!" I prayed prayers like this so many times when I was up to my neck in my addiction. And I really meant it! But those prayers were never directly answered and I often wondered why. Didn't God want me healed? Didn't He want me to stop the behaviors that were surely displeasing to Him and destructive to me and others?
Then I discovered a missing piece to the puzzle when I compared two Bible passages that speak of confession.
If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins, and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness (1 John 1:9).
What are the results of a direct confession to God? Forgiveness and cleansing, which I definitely needed and wanted. But nothing here about healing. I was forgiven and cleansed because of the blood of Christ, but still not healed.
Let me make one thing clear: I believe that God can and does heal in direct, immediate answer to prayer. I had seen and heard of others being miraculously healed of addictions to smoking, drinking, and drugs in response to earnest prayer. But I was painfully aware of others, including myself, that were still addicted in spite of our prayers and the prayers of others.
Here is the second verse on confession:
Confess your faults one to another, and pray one for another, that ye may be healed. The effectual fervent prayer of a righteous man availeth much (James 5:16).
Notice that the confession is not addressed to God but to "one another," other human beings! The result is not forgiveness or cleansing, but healing, the very thing we desperately want.
You say that you already tried that—you confessed to your spouse, your pastor, your counselor, etc.—and it didn't work. Believe me, I know exactly what you mean.
But that is where the power of a 12-step group comes in: you are sharing with people that truly understand your struggles. They have been where you are. Nothing you can say shocks them and nothing they say can shock you. There is a high level of acceptance and empathy which are vital allies in recovery.
Yes, these relationships can be difficult because of our shame and desire to isolate. There are things in the program that will go against our doctrinal purity and people that will get on our nerves. But it is clear from this verse that God uses other people in our healing. And these are the people that know our struggles and know what we are going through. They are not like the well-meaning people on the outside that tell us to "just stop."
One of the most valuable things we can learn about our God is that He uses means to accomplish His work. The Lord Jesus Christ put spit on the blind man's eyes instead of healing him "directly." God spoke to Balaam through the mouth of the donkey. He used the boy's existing loaves and fishes to feed the multitude. Jesus sent Peter fishing to get a coin from a fish's mouth instead of giving it to him directly. I am sure you can think of many other examples from the Bible and your own life.
Get involved with a 12-step group. Get a sponsor and participate in the meetings. Tell your story to members that you find safe. Make phone calls when you are tempted. I have done (am doing) those things—yes, reluctantly at first—and am truly experiencing God's healing! My prayers are being answered, not on my terms, but on God's terms.
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