Overeating, gambling, drugs, alcohol, smoking, sex, video games, porn viewing, and many other things, including even work, can become addictions. For many, the battle to break free from these addictions is lifelong. Some Christians believe that prayer alone is the path to freedom. It can be! Certainly, faith and prayer are essential to recovery. But without employing the recently discovered tools and techniques of cutting-edge brain science, which I believe were revealed by God, complete recovery will likely remain elusive. Please read more….
Today, I want to address the struggle to find freedom from addiction. To be clear, I am not a trained addiction recovery counselor. I have, however, spent many years researching this topic. Through my ministry, I have helped many people battling addictions.
When people have a medical problem, they seek a medical solution. Unfortunately, in the past, most people assumed that if they had an addiction, it was exclusively a sin problem, therefore, prayer was their exclusive answer. We now know that addictions are more than merely a sin problem. Addictions cause medical and psychological changes to the brain.
Can someone pray to God and receive a miracle to overcome their addiction? Of course they can, God can do anything. God is still in the miracle business, but God also gives us the intelligence and the ability to avail ourselves to the best tools medical research offers for recovery.
The word addiction means a hopeless dependence. According to a Harvard Health article on understanding addiction, “addiction involves craving for something intensely, loss of control over its use, and continuing involvement with it despite adverse consequences. Addiction changes the brain, first by subverting the way it registers pleasure and then by corrupting other normal drives such as learning and motivation.”
Let me stop right here for a minute. Based on that description, can you spot any addictive behaviors in your life? Sadly, too many people can. Perhaps you are one of them or perhaps you have a family member or friend who has an addiction.
When a Christian first admits they are addicted and they desire freedom from their addiction, they usually turn to prayer. When someone has a friend or family member who is addicted, they too usually turn to prayer. This is an important first step, but I believe more is needed.
No one knows the brain better than its creator. God has been revealing many new things to researchers. Brain-imaging studies have shown that addictions can cause disruptions in the brain’s highly evolved frontal cortex, which regulates cognitive activities such as decision-making, response inhibition, planning and memory. When a long-term addict says they can’t stop, sometimes that is a factually correct answer. Normal reasoning has been disrupted.
The Christian addict or their family and friends might point to one of several Bible passage that at first glance, seem to indicate that prayer alone is the solution. After all, Philippians 4:13 states, “I have the strength for everything through him who empowers me” and in Matthew 17:20 Jesus tells us if we have faith the size of a mustard seed, we can move a mountain. He also says, “Nothing will be impossible for you.”
So, what gives? Aren’t these passages telling us that if we just pray harder or have more faith, we can make any problem go away? A friend of mine, who was dying from cancer, told me the story about how she was hurt by another friend who told her that she just needed to pray harder to make her cancer go away. She prayed as hard as one could pray, but eventually, she still died from the cancer. Likewise, despite his fervent prayer, God never removed St. Paul’s thorn.
Saint Mark Ji Tianxiang, is another example of someone who never overcame his opium addiction, and yet, he was martyred because of his strong faith. Please don’t ever tell someone that the only reason they can’t break free from their addiction is because their faith isn’t strong enough. If you are someone with an addiction, don’t assume that by saying a few new prayers you will automatically find your miracle.
God tells us in 1 Corinthians 10:13 that He will not let us be tried beyond our strength. We are told, “He will also provide a way out, so that you may be able to bear it.” As I see things, Jesus is the answer. He will indeed provide the way and ability to bear the struggle. He not only gives us science, but He also gives us friends, family, and our Christian community to help us.
Addictions are usually a habitual response to being bored, lonely, angry, stressed, or tired. They can also be a coping mechanism to deal with some form of trauma. If you struggle with an addiction, do you know your trigger?
Here are a few closing suggestions for those who struggle:
- Admit to yourself and to others that you have an addiction.
- Pray as if your recovery depends solely on God.
- Take appropriate action and seek out a treatment program as if your recovery depends solely on you.
- Do some research on the new cutting-edge brain science tools to help with addiction recovery.
- Never lose hope. Keep in mind, most addictions took years to develop, and will likely, take a long time to recover from.
Heavenly Father, sadly addictions are an all-too-common part of our human journey. They can cause guilt, shame, pain, and despair to those who have them and cause pain and trauma to those who love someone with them. Please grant strength, courage, and commitment to those who seek your help and lead them to the tools they need to find lasting recovery. Amen.
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