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MY PRAYER: Father,
In my pain and my anguish—
When my heart was broken
And darkness threatened to overwhelm me—
I felt so lost and abandoned, but I wasn’t.
Despite my anxiety and my trembling heart,
You were there, never leaving my side,
Diligently working within my heart,
Stripping me of all of my pretense,
Scourging me of all of my arrogance,
And revealing each of my self-serving ways,
Which have made my life a wasteland.
For so long, I had no concern or awareness
About anything You desired for my life.
My only purpose was to find relief from my torment,
But Your determined pruning has run far deeper
Than anything I could have imagined or even conceived.
I thought my anguish would never end,
And I would never be able to smile at the future again.
In my distress, I enumerated the desires of my heart,
Repeatedly asking You to grant my wishes,
But You never would, which compounded my sorrow.
What I have gained through my loss, though,
May have been the most valuable lesson of my life.
Out of my pain and ennui, You have raised me up,
Placing my feet on solid, immovable ground,
Strengthening me with power in the inner man,
And made me sound at the core of my being.
No longer fearful or timid, I am peaceful and confident.
Instead of filling my hours with fretful apprehensions,
My state of mind has become peaceful and serene.
None of this would have taken place,
If You had not changed my heart’s desire,
Irreversibly transforming my perspective.
Without Your loving, consistent attentiveness,
I would never have learned my lessons.
Instead, I would have been destined
To repeat my mistakes endlessly,
Like an unreasoning animal
Rather than like a beloved child of the King,
Amen.
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MY PRAYER: Father,
Understanding Your leading is not always difficult.
You are crystal clear about so many things—
About honesty, fidelity, and caring for others.
With these, it is impossible to misunderstand Your will,
But most of life isn’t this simple—
Nor is Your will that easy to discern.
It is not always crystal clear—
Not black and white—which I wish it would be.
Instead, it is varying hues of gray, making choices perplexing.
It seems like I am never clear about Your leading,
And yet You expect me to follow You blindly,
Putting my trust in You without reservation.
As I try to discern Your purpose, I have been forced
To step out in faith and be bold many times,
Without any idea of what the future might hold,
Or of what the results of my actions would be.
Nothing ever seems to end the way I think it should,
Or the way I thought it would, forcing me to wonder
If I have understood You accurately. Instead, I wonder
If have I done nothing more than project my desires,
Calling them Your will, when they really were not.
As I walk by faith, I rarely receive the answers I expect,
Which You could easily disclose but never seem to do.
I look at my situation, demanding to know the outcome,
While You already knowing what that will be.
Your ways are beyond my capacity to discern.
As others view my life, scornfully mocking,
Delighting at what seems like my certain failure,
I can count on the assurance of Your guidance.
You know what You have planned for my life.
No matter how contemptuously others view my plight,
From the depth of my soul, Your voice
Reassures me that You are in charge.
You are God Almighty, and I am not.
As I acquiesce, my soul is quieted, and I become still.
When I obediently release the outcome to You,
I accept that I may look foolish to many,
Especially on the outside; but on the inside—
Where it really counts, I’m becoming incredibly strong
In ways that are destined to have value for me and for others,
Amen.

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Bottoming Out

 

I can’t handle it God; You take over—AA Slogan

 

Father,

My soul aches, and my spirit is weak.

Heartache has consumed me,

And I’m fearful of the future.

Those who know your Word much better than I,

Have rebuked me, chastening me

With contempt, ridicule, and shame.

In my heart, I have cowed before them,

Never questioning their motives or intent.

Slinking away in defeat and despair,

I have vowed to never return—to remain aloof

From them, from You, and from their religiosity.

I have wandered from You,

To a place where there is

No joy, no kindness, and no future.

Time has not been my friend.

My mistakes have brought me low.

My accusers know your Word,

But they don’t know your forgiving Spirit.

Father, I need Your help to return home,

To come back to where I belong,

To nurture a real and substantive relationship with You.

Strengthen me with power in the inner man.

Allow me to stand strong;

Allow me to be bold and confident;

Allow me to be the person you created me to be.

Don’t allow my accusers to continue having dominion

Over me, lest my future be as bleak as my past,

Amen

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Out of the depths I have cried to Thee, O Lord. Lord, hear my voice! Let thine ears be attentive to the voice of my supplications. If Thou, Lord, shouldst mark iniquities, O Lord, who could stand? But there is forgiveness with Thee, that Thou mayest be feared. (Psalm 129:1-4)

 

Jack Watts

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God is interested in us being forthright—not in us being piously pretentious. God loathes hypocrisy—just like most of us do. He definitely understands adversity though, having experienced it through the suffering of His Son. This means God can and does empathize with each of us. This makes Him fully capable of meeting us exactly where we are, regardless of our situation, despite the level of our dysfunction. As difficult as it may seem to believe, He loves each of us exactly the way we are.

Recognizing this, while also coming to terms with it, is why I wrote Conquering Negative Self-Talk. It’s for wounded, hurting people—people just like you and me. It’s for those who believe they have very little to offer. It’s for people who have been crushed—for those who have had life knock the wind out of their sails. It’s for people who are in pain—for those who desire to reach out to God but lack the necessary words to express their deepest heartaches, apprehensions, and misgivings. Actually, this self-help workbook can benefit just about anybody, but it is especially useful for alcoholics, drug addicts, and codependents. So, if you are looking for something that will improve your life—a resource that will point you to God in the midst of crushing circumstances, when your self-worth is virtually non-existent, Conquering Negative Self-Talk is definitely for you.

 

 

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A Battle of the Wills

 

Not My Will but Yours—AA Slogan

 

 

Father,

I’ve wanted relationships and possessions

That You have not intended for me to have.

I’ve wanted them so badly

That I’ve come before You

Numerous times—pleading and begging—

Beseeching You to grant my desires.

And all You have done is to say “No.”

Refusing to accept Your answer as final,

I have continued my relentless complaining,

Insisting that You make my will be Your own.

In my stubbornness, I have maintained that

Right was wrong, and wrong was right,

While deceiving myself into believing

My purposes were noble—even altruistic.

I have ascribed righteousness to my desires,

As if seeking my goals was the pathway

To wisdom, contentment, and fulfillment.

In my foolishness, I have done my best

To convince myself that my way has been right,

But You remained adamant, refusing my demands.

Still unwilling to accept Your will over my own,

I have manipulated events until frustration

And exhaustion have overwhelmed me,

But You never budged nor wavered—not once.

Now, at the end of all my stubborn willful fretting,

I bow my knee and accept Your decision.

“No” it is, and “No” it shall be forevermore.

There are still parts of me that regret Your answer,

But You are in charge, and I am not.

Now that I have submitted myself

To Your purpose and direction rather than to my own,

I have begun to see things differently.

Finally, at the end of my stubborn willfulness,

I acknowledge that Your way is superior to my own,

Amen.

 

 

You lust and do not have; so you commit murder. And you are envious and cannot obtain; so you fight and quarrel. You do not have because you do not ask. You ask and do not receive because you ask with the wrong motives, so that you may spend it on your pleasures. (James 4:2-3)

Jack Watts

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Changes in Your Circumstances

 

If you turn it over and don’t let go of it, you will be upside down—AA Slogan

 

 

Father,

When You want my attention,

You know how to get it.

There are times when I feel

Like You aren’t really there,

Like You don’t really care,

Like my life has little meaning, value or purpose.

Then, through my circumstances,

You shake me to the core, and I am undone.

That’s when You begin your relentless pruning.

At first, I don’t recognize what is going on,

And I cry out, ”Why me, Lord?”

I don’t like what is happening,

And I resist Your efforts to make me

Into the person You intend for me to be.

I want to be your man,

Strong, resourceful, and successful,

But I want it to come easily, with little effort,

But it never does—not for me, anyway.

I chafe, as You prune my immature ways,

With precision and focused determination.

When I recognize what is occurring,

I bow me knee and acknowledge,

That Your hand has been hard on me,

But Your purpose has never wavered.

When You have finished, You seem pleased

With what You have pruned, knowing that

I will become stronger, more fruitful person.

 

I am the vine, and My Father is the vinedresser. Every branch in Me that does not bear fruit, He takes away; and every branch that bears fruit, He prunes it, that it may bear more fruit. You are already clean because of the word which I have spoken to you. Abide in Me, and I in you. As the branch cannot bear fruit of itself, unless it abides in the vine, so neither can you, unless you abide in Me. (John 15:1-4)

Jack Watts

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The self-worth of alcoholics and addicts is very low, even if their outward behavior appears to be confident, self-assured, and upbeat. This is an illusion. Their lives are filled with guilt, shame, self-loathing, and self-condemnation. Some choose to blame others for their lot in life, doing their best to excuse themselves from being responsible for unacceptable behavior, but this doesn’t work well. Blaming others rarely does, and it certainly isn’t emotionally healthy.

Many live in denial, refusing to admit who they really are and what they have become. They desperately try to convince others their situation is not as bad as it is, going to extraordinary lengths to do so—often comparing themselves favorably to someone who is far worse off than they are. Somehow, this makes them feel better about themselves—at least for a while. They do this, even when the destruction from their lifestyle is obvious to everyone around them, especially to those who refuse to take their delusional thinking at face value.

Whether people trapped by their addictions are willing to admit it or not, their self-talk is nearly always negative. Even if it doesn’t appear to be this way outwardly, negativity reigns in their hearts, regularly informing them they have no worth. Believing they are of no value is a constant theme for alcoholics, drug addicts, and codependents—it’s never far from their minds. They routinely accept self-condemning disaffirmations as being accurate, whether self-imposed or from others.

Addictions are destructive, especially to a person’s body, but physical health isn’t all that is destroyed. Inwardly, because addictions wound a person’s soul, the damage can be even more extensive. Addictions empower negativity, feeding low self-esteem. They disaffirm a person’s self-worth constantly, making meaningful recovery virtually impossible.
In their minds, alcoholics, addicts, and codependents repeatedly tell themselves:

—I’m no good.
—I hate myself.
—Nobody cares about me.
—I have no value.
—Life has no meaning.
—I don’t want to go on like this.

Wounded people repeat these messages in their mind regularly. Such destructive thinking, which addictive people firmly believe to be accurate—regardless of what they say outwardly—makes it more difficult for them to break free from their enslaving lifestyles.

An addict’s only freedom from negativity comes while he or she is using. Booze and drugs make addicts feel okay—even if it’s just for a short period. It’s why they use. It’s their way to escape the realities of life. It’s also why they gravitate to the seamier side of life, where their dysfunction is accepted as normal. Sometimes, it is even be championed.

When an alcoholic or addict’s standard “fix” stops working, they use more, believing this will do the trick, which it does for a while. Then, it doesn’t. Finally, fixes stop working altogether and never work again.

This leaves alcoholics and users in a desperate situation. This is when their lives spin out of control, and their behavior reflects it. Despite the negative consequences of their actions, the addict is powerless to stop drinking or drugging. They have become ruled and enslaved by their addiction or cross-addictions. They need help, and Conquering Negative Self-Talk can help provide it.

 

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