“God, thank you for this abstinent meal, now please fill me with spiritual sustenance.” This is just one of the many new prayers I learned from my fellow members at the recent OA HOW retreat which was at its core about our need to fill ourselves with spiritual nourishment. It is a prayer I now say after I finish every meal and it helps me to know that I have had enough, that what I need is not more food, but a conscious contact with God.
The retreat was titled “The Miracle of Transformation” and I learned how the changes we want to see in our lives must come from within, from knowing ourselves better and from participating multiple times a day in the process of God consciousness. This was a concept introduced by Mike, an AA member who led a spirituality workshop at the retreat. God consciousness is about initiating a psychic change where we are open to something new, where we are led by a different voice that is not our addict, where we are aware of an inner resource that is bigger than we are.
Mike suggested that all that is needed to begin a connection with God is to practice contemplative prayer and discursive meditation. Contemplative prayer is where you get quiet within yourself and pray to God so you are receptive to receiving guidance. It can be any prayer – the Serenity Prayer, the Third Step prayer, anything that stills your mind and opens your heart and soul. A new favourite for me is St. Theresa’s Prayer:
“May today there be peace within. May you trust your highest power that you are exactly where you are meant to be. May you not forget the infinite possibilities that are born of faith. May you use those gifts that you have received, and pass on the love that has been given to you. May you be content knowing you are a child of God…Let this presence settle into our bones, and allow your soul the freedom to sing, dance, praise and love. It is there for each and every one of you.”
After we pray, we undertake discursive meditation. That is where you find that still point within and ask God a question. Often the answer isn’t as important as the source of the question – such as “where do I need God’s help?” or “God, please show me what ‘willingness’ or ‘spiritual awakening’ or ‘abstinence’ means”. The question can be about anything like asking God to take away your anger and finding out what it needs to be replaced with. In asking questions, God gives you some solutions, which leads to more questions and deeper answers. This is how we come to know ourselves better and as Mike said – to live a life empowered beyond our finite humanity.
I have begun to put these practices into my daily life and I find a peace and serenity I have not known before. When I am agitated, irritable, resentful, or confused; I try to pause, take a few breaths, go within and pray to God for guidance. It does not always come quickly but it is so much better than my old practices of operating in selfishness which only created a block with God and a hole in my heart and soul that I used to try to fill with food. Now I know food is not the sustenance I seek, a conscious contact with my Creator is.
~ Pennie H.