After reading my article on divine grace, some people contacted me with their own extraordinary stories of healing and transformation.
Here are stories about the power of prayer that helped two people heal from addiction. The first is the story of Vasiliy, a former alcoholic and drug addict and the second is of Laura, whose prayers healed her mother’s addiction to alcohol.
The seeds for Vasiliy’s problems with addiction were planted when he first tried smoking pot and drinking alcohol in high school. His occasional forays into these substances led to a serious addiction in the future.
His addiction began in his early twenties. He only indulged on the weekends just to have a good time.
In the beginning, he didn’t think his addiction was a problem. He felt healthy as he exercised regularly, had a job and a girlfriend. And it was still something he did only on the weekends.
But gradually, he became addicted to harder and harder liquor and drugs. The situation dramatically turned for the worse when he started taking cocaine. His money started to disappear, he began to miss his workdays, and he ruined his relationship with his girlfriend of three years.
Eventually, his addiction began to control his life and it took him down a dark tunnel from which there seemed to be no escape. He felt helpless. He never thought that it would come to this. He had always thought he would be able to overcome his habit.
He enrolled in the 12-step program of Cocaine Anonymous. There, he was paired with a sponsor who was instrumental in helping him out of his addiction.
Vasiliy told me that once he started on the 12-steps, he realised that this was actually a spiritual program. In the first step, he had to honestly admit that he felt powerless over his addiction and that his life had become unmanageable.
In the second step, his sponsor asked him, “Do you believe that a power greater than yourself can restore you to sanity?”
Before he answered it, his mind went back to his teenage years when he used to question the meaning of life and its purpose. When he couldn’t find the answers, he escaped into drugs and alcohol. They transported him to another world where everything seemed rich and meaningful.
He also recalled how, in the last year of his addiction, he would often find himself awake in the middle of the night, soaked with his own sweat. He had felt that he couldn’t take it anymore and wanted to die. He would call out to God to help him find peace of mind and control his addiction.
Since he had always felt that there was a God, he answered, “yes” to the second question.
At that time, he didn’t fully understand the implications. It just felt right, and he was desperate to recover. When he surrendered himself to God and sincerely asked for help, the transformation began.
He felt an inner connection that dissolved his many long years of obsession with cocaine. Life suddenly took on new meaning. He felt that up until this point, he had been swimming in the murky depths of a polluted lake and now, he finally surfaced and gulped his first breath of life-giving fresh air.
When the following weekend came, he was surprised that he didn’t feel the usual craving to use drugs. The compulsive obsession for drugs was suddenly absent. This was the first weekend he was sober in over ten years.
As he continued to work with his sponsor, more weekends came, and he still remained sober. Such is the power of surrender and divine grace. This was the start of his spiritual journey.
Later, someone directed him to the Self-Realization Fellowship Centre in Toronto. There he found his guru in Paramahansa Yogananda. Very soon, Vasiliy cleaned up his life and started a regular meditation practice.
Although he was on his way to recovery, the road there wasn’t always smooth or easy. There were several times when he became weak and thought he would give in.
But he learned that he didn’t have to struggle to control his cravings; what he had to do was to pray and surrender to God. That gave him the strength to stay sober. He also continued to work with his sponsor, attended the weekly meetings, and meditated everyday.
Here’s another story of how the earnest prayers helped to heal and transform someone’s life. This is the story of Laura and her mother Brenda*.
Laura remembers being a young child of six when her mother started drinking. Over the years, the habit gradually declined into an uncontrollable addiction. From a glass or two of wine per night, it slowly became a bottle or two.
Brenda’s drinking had always been the cause for much upset in their household. Laura’s father, who was a kind soul, tried to convince her to stop but without success. He suffered from a poor heart and did not have the strength or ability to stop her when she became loud and violent.
By the time Laura was twenty, daily arguments within the family became the norm. One night, Brenda started shouting abuses at her husband and complaining about his family after a long bout of drinking. At that time, he was recovering from a stroke and feeling too weak to respond.
His unresponsiveness and inability to defend himself infuriated her and she started yelling even more. Laura and her older brother, Michael tried to calm their mother down with no success.
Brenda then lifted her glass and was about to throw it at the TV but Michael intervened and firmly gripped her arm. At that point, Brenda completely lost it. How dare he stop her! “I’m going to call the police!” she growled. She strode over to the wall where the panic button on the house security alarm was and pressed it continuously until her son pulled her away.
The signal from the panic button summoned the police who arrived within a few minutes. As soon as they entered and saw Brenda and the family, they quickly understood the situation.
Somehow, their presence diffused the tension in the room. They left as they realised this was not an emergency.
Things then became suddenly quiet and the whole family dispersed to their rooms.
Totally shaken up by what had just happened, Laura went to her room where she had set up a small altar for prayer. She kneeled in front of her altar and started sobbing.
“Please, please dear Lord, please do something to help her stop drinking!” she begged. “Please change my mother!” She prayed over and over again.
She spent the next several hours crying, praying and pleading to God to make her mother stop drinking.
Finally, at about four a.m. Laura fell asleep at her altar with a blanket around her.
The miraculous healing from addiction
Later the next morning when Laura, Michael and their father were in the kitchen, Brenda slowly walked in with her head hanging low.
She said she was ashamed of her behaviour and was deeply remorseful. She promised to never drink again. She repeatedly asked her family to forgive her.
They were surprised at her transformation. Their hearts melted on hearing her words. They all hugged and cried together.
It was years before Brenda ever drank again, and when she did, it was always only a small drink. Never did she go back to her old excessive habits.
What had happened?
Nothing had changed since the previous night except for Laura’s heartfelt prayers. Laura firmly believes that God heard her fervent prayers and enacted a miraculous change in Brenda’s mind.
Divine grace is always present, ever ready to flood into our lives. But we have to be ready to ask for it. It doesn’t come unsolicited. Just as we have to draw the curtains to let in the sunlight, we have to pray and ask for help.
This is when true surrender happens.
All genuine prayers for healing and transformation are heard and answered. Miracles then happen. This is an unfailing truth.
*not their real names
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