I KNOW A GUY who suffers from that disease usually called ‘alcoholism’. At one point he knew he was in deep trouble. He had ruined his life with drinking. He had lost his job.
He had caused untold suffering to his wife and children. But he eventually managed to overcome the drinking habit and has been sober for many years.
I was reading the book he wrote about his experience. He now counsels other men who are going through the same struggle.
If there is one point he insists on, it’s the need for God’s grace. The time a person sets aside for prayer is absolutely essential. In fact, the decision to pray (or not to pray) is a measure for everything else.
He said: “When I stop praying every day because I feel secure in my own capabilities, I am showing that I have too much confidence in myself and not in God.
We are one bad decision away from beginning to destroy our lives again. One bad decision leads us to another bad decision and normally, the first one is to stop praying.”
I think these are wise words—and not just for an alcoholic who needs God’s grace to overcome that particular vice. They are wise words for all of us.
Personally, I have never had a problem with alcohol. I prefer having a soda or some juice when everyone else is having a beer. I feel zero temptation. Truly zero.
But, of course, there are many other vices that we can fall into, and I certainly do have my temptations.
Everyone of us suffers from something we call the ‘dominant defect’.
So maybe a person has no problem with drinking. Well, there are other vices: pride, greed, lust, laziness, envy, anger, etc.
As we get to know ourselves, we realise that we are especially weak when it comes to one or two of those vices. I know that the day I stop praying—it’s usually just laziness—I won’t last long.
Maybe for a while I will be ok. I might fool myself, convinced that everything is running smoothly, and that I’m in control. But I would be playing the devil’s game.
If the devil can tempt Jesus Christ—it happened just after Jesus had finished 40 days of prayer and fasting—I would be stupid to think I am going to resist temptation after drifting away from God.
Make no mistake about it. When we stop setting aside time for prayer, we are drifting away from God.
Let me close with some words from Saint Teresa of Avila, one of the great mystics. She said, “If you don’t pray, you don’t need the devil to tempt you. You will find a way to tempt yourself.”