A Prayer for the Addicted

During a weekend devoted to those suffering from addiction, who will you pray for?

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Posted in , Mar 12, 2015

A Prayer for the Addicted

I was taking Millie for her late-night walk in a steady rain, urging her on so we both wouldn’t get completely drenched when along came a shabby figure in the gloom, gait wobbly, arms extended to greet my dog.

Millie is a friend to everyone though she is slightly wary of people unsteady on their feet. She doesn’t want to get toppled on. Which was a distinct possibility. This man had certainly been in his cups, as they say. He looked at me with a boozy grin and asked, “Which way to Bellevue?”

Good question. And we happened to be on the right street. “Straight across. Just keep going east. It’s about 20 minutes.” Of course that wasn’t taking into account added distance due to weaving.

A few minutes later Millie and I ducked into 7-Eleven for a few things. There he was again, dripping wet,  trying to get people to pay for their stuff with his EBT card and give him the cash. He had nine dollars left on the card, he told me. “Dog food doesn’t count,” he said, shaking his head vigorously. “Government won’t pay for it.”

“I think Bellevue is a better option, my friend,” I said. “You’ll get three squares and a bed.” Then I moved on. 

But not totally. I can’t help but see myself in every drunk on the street. I’ve been there, as some of you who’ve read my book The Promise of Hope know. And even after all these years I still have that nearly paralyzing moment of shock and recognition when I encounter someone in the throes of addiction.

That was me, I think. That could still be me. Even when I was a kid, long before I picked up that first inevitable drink, the only movies that really scared me–scared me to the point where I couldn’t watch–were movies about addicts and alcoholics, drugs and booze. Did I know somehow what they presaged? Like a mirror that predicted the future?

I woke up the next morning still thinking about the guy, wondering if he made it to Bellevue or if Millie and I would run into him again. The rain had gone and the sky was a hard blue. I checked my phone.

Almost as an answer to my thoughts there was an email from the Christian News Service noting that April 11-13 is the 25th annual worldwide weekend of prayer for the addicted. 

I didn’t know about the first 24, though a day rarely goes by when I don’t pray for some suffering addict, even if it’s just myself. It is widely believed that every person in America knows someone who has the disease of alcohol or drug addiction.

That means that for almost all of you reading this, there is someone you can pray for that weekend by name. Whose specific suffering you can bring before God, the only One who is more powerful than an addiction.

I know who I am going to pray for. Do you?

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