Tag: Biblical Addiction Help

How Do You Pray for Your Prodigal?

by Brenda Payne

I have heard it said the greatest battles are won on our knees! It is in fact, parental helplessness that forces us from a standing posture of “I can fix this” to a kneeling posture of “Oh, God, help, only You can fix this.”

It’s not enough to pray that our child will be sober. Sobriety is good but it is not God. Hell will be full of sober people. As parents, we plead with God to bring our children into a personal relationship with Him. We want to see their lives redeemed. We want to know that the ones we love the most will be with us in heaven.

And so we pray, not only for abstinence, but for renewal of the heart. It is easy to get caught up in the day to day drama of an addict and find ourselves laboring in praying for what will make things better right now! Praying Scripture is a wonderful way to push our prayers from the temporal to the eternal.  Consider using the words of Matthew 5:3-11 as a springboard to pray for your wayward child.

3“Blessed are the poor in spirit, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven. 

Pray your child will have a right view of himself, that he will recognize he has no righteousness of his own. He can’t get sober enough to save himself; he must come to the end of himself and see his utter depravity. Then, and only then, will the kingdom of heaven be within his grasp.

4“Blessed are those who mourn, for they shall be comforted. 

Pray your child will intensely grieve over his sin. Pray he will have a godly sorrow that leads him to repentance. Then, pray he will know the forgiveness of the Father to wipe away every sin, along with his guilt and shame. Pray he will know the true comfort that comes from a clear conscience made clean by the blood of Christ.

5“Blessed are the meek, for they shall inherit the earth. 

Pray all self-importance and entitlement would give way to humility and submission to God. Pray he will not fight against God’s will but accept God’s dealings with Him as good, even the consequences of his rebellion.

6“Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness, for they shall be satisfied. 

Pray he will have an intense desire to know God and walk in truth and that God will fill this desire to overflowing!

7“Blessed are the merciful, for they shall receive mercy.

Pray your child will be continually moved to compassion to help others in need and not develop a hardness of heart. Ask the Lord to deal mercifully with your child, not according to what he deserves, but on the basis of God’s lovingkindness. Remember, it’s His kindness that leads us to repentance.

8“Blessed are the pure in heart, for they shall see God. 

Pray your child will be singularly devoted in his love for God. Pray his affections will no longer be divided, keeping one foot in the world.  Pray he will be firmly planted in the love of Christ for him. Pray God will call him “friend” and that your child will desire to walk faithfully in fellowship with the Father.

9“Blessed are the peacemakers, for they shall be called sons of God. 

Pray your child will put off all destructive and abusive patterns of living and take active steps to make peace, first with God and then with others. Pray he would bear the image of God by pursuing true and lasting peace, which will be evidenced in his closest relationships.

10“Blessed are those who are persecuted for righteousness’ sake, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven. 11“Blessed are you when others revile you and persecute you and utter all kinds of evil against you falsely on my account. 12Rejoice and be glad, for your reward is great in heaven, for so they persecuted the prophets who were before you. 

Pray that if your child must suffer, he will suffer for doing what is good and right before the Lord. Pray he will pursue the Lord regardless of the peer pressure that comes against him. Pray he would love Christ and sell out for him no matter the cost, with the same intensity he has sold out to his substance. Pray he will have a holy imagination and 20/20 vision to see beyond the here and now, to a future inheritance more grand than anything this earth can promise.

Let us not grow weary in continually offering prayers for our children, prayers with eternal significance. Remember, Jesus is still a friend of sinners. As long as there is breath, there is hope!

“The Lord is not slow to fulfill his promise as some count slowness, but is patient toward you, not wishing that any should perish, but that all should reach repentance” (2 Peter 3:9).

Tweet: I have heard it said the greatest battles are won on our knees! … As parents, we plead with God to bring our children into a personal relationship with Him. -Brenda Payne https://ctt.ec/0ehzN+ #Praying4ProdigalChild

NOTE: I chose to use the pronoun “he” to not make the writing cumbersome, but obviously this applies to a son or a daughter.

All Scripture references are from The Holy Bible, English Standard Version®, copyright © 2001 by Crossway, 2011 Text Edition. Used by permission. All rights reserved.

Praying hands image by congerdesign from Pixabay

Brenda Payne

Brenda was the first woman to be certified in the state of Alabama with the Association of Biblical Counselors where she counseled and taught women for twenty years. She is currently a “volunteer” for Jesus counseling and training in her new hometown of Chattanooga, Tennessee.  Brenda is completing her thesis project for her MABC at Faith Seminary on “A Manual for Christian Parents of Adult Addicts from a Distinctively Biblical Worldview”. Her interest in helping parents of adult addicts is the result of her own personal journey.

Brenda and her husband Paul have three grown children. She is passionate about speaking, writing, counseling and mentoring to encourage women to seek biblical counseling and discipleship training. She also enjoys hospitality and managing her “Scenic City” Airbnb, enjoying a good cup of coffee over meaningful conversation, and engaging in culture and outdoor activities.

She co-authored theTeach Them Diligentlystudy guide and wrote Motherhood: Hope for Discouraged Moms.  She is the co-founder of Known Ministries (knownministries.org) a non-profit committed to inspiring, equipping and training women in the personal ministry of the Word and problem-solving discipleship. She is the founder of the Chattanooga Biblical Counseling Coalition and the Chattanooga Biblical Counseling Women’s Network.



Addiction Intervention

For those who may have missed seeing this yesterday, Dr. Mark Shaw shares on the Association of Biblical Counselors blog about Addiction Intervention.

TIL 212 | Addiction Intervention

Gospel Hope for an Epidemic

Image by Emilian Danaila from Pixabay

by: Mark Shaw

An incredible number of 64,000 accidental overdose deaths occurred in 2016 in the United States of America. To put that number of souls in perspective, more American people accidentally died in one year due to addictive behavior than died in the entire Vietnam War. Another startling statistic is that the estimated cost since 2001 of the opioid epidemic alone (not including other drugs) is one trillion dollars and it is estimated to cost $500 billion in the next 3 years.[1] What many view as a hopeless problem draining society should be viewed by the Church body across the world as an enormous opportunity to point people to the hope of the gospel and Jesus Christ.

Government Solutions
One so-called solution that is gaining popularity is called “medication-assisted treatment” (MAT). Methadone is the most common drug utilized as an opiate/opioid replacement and is usually provided through a treatment clinic and prescribed by a physician. Methadone is a schedule II narcotic with a high abuse potential due to its long-acting pain relief properties. There is also a high physical dependence liability and very painful, long-standing withdrawal effects when one decides to detox from the medication. Communities like Lafayette, Indiana are starting methadone clinics to battle the opioid epidemic, arguing that methadone as a replacement for heroin and prescription opioids is a viable solution to reduce the accidental overdose rate.

My Firsthand Experience
Many years ago, I worked as the director of a methadone clinic and saw firsthand how inept that so-called solution truly is because it lacks heart change. During my tenure there, I counseled only two persons out of several hundred (less than 1%) who successfully detoxed off of the drug and maintained sobriety for at least six months afterward. I also know these clients did not hear an eternal, gospel-centered message in this program. They weren’t taught about the idolatry of addiction, so they were never led to confess their sin, cry out for forgiveness, repent, and place their faith in Christ for eternal life (Prov. 28:13).

The positives were that methadone intake was controlled by the clinic (though they could buy it from the friends they met waiting in line at the clinic). Drug tests were a deterrent to some extent, keeping a few clients motivated not to use illicit drugs, though that was not the norm. As a medication, methadone covered up opioid highs. If an addict tried to use heroin, he would not feel it. Counseling was offered, though it was not biblical.

The negatives were that methadone did not prevent the client from experiencing highs from marijuana, benzodiazepines, cocaine, amphetamines, and the like. Because the usual high from an opioid drug could not be experienced while on methadone, most addicts used other non-opioid drugs to feel a high since using opioids was a waste of money, time, and energy. It was not uncommon to have clients overdose and die while on the program because their physical hearts could not withstand the power of cocaine and marijuana mixed with methadone.

Detoxing off of methadone is extremely painful due to the longer half-life of the drug, resulting in effects that last much longer than withdrawing from an opioid. The plan of the majority of methadone clinics is to keep the addicted person on the drug for the remainder of his or her lifetime. Detox is not really encouraged, which makes sense because that is consistent with the beliefs of the addiction counseling world at-large. If addiction is a life-long, progressive, and fatal disease that is never overcome, then here is the thinking: “You are an addict; you will be an addict; methadone is your solution; why detox?” However, when counseling many addicts at the methadone clinic, I used a heaven – hell – purgatory analogy to encourage detox. Their treatment at the methadone clinic was likened to the concept of “purgatory.”[2] Being on methadone was better than the “hell” of living on the streets shooting heroin, but it was worse than the freedom of “heaven” which I likened to being drug-free (which pales in comparison to the real heaven, please understand). My point was that methadone did not offer true freedom, so I would encourage them to detox. Few did.

With that background experience and with very few viable secular solutions on the horizon, I have become much more passionate about training and mobilizing the local church for the work of ministry through biblical addiction counseling. I have seen many deaths due to addiction. I have observed incorrect theology taught dogmatically in most treatment and rehabilitation programs where participants are pointed away from the local church, away from the true gospel, and away from Christ (Col. 2:8). These things grieve me. Secular treatment programs are not neutral since 93% of them embrace by “faith” (not by science) the disease concept of addiction and its self-help ideas. At the end of the day, this is an issue of belief, not an issue of fact (though they present their beliefs as factual and scientific).

Two Spiritual Approaches
Behavioral change (which is the only goal of secular rehabilitation programs) might prolong physical life temporarily, but it usually is short-lived as many revert back to their drug of choice. Christians should be concerned with more than just sobriety as a goal! There will be plenty of clean and sober souls in hell. I’m sure my readers already know this, but Jesus Christ is the only answer, the gospel is the only true message, and the local church is the only community who has what the addict is longing for – enduring hope, eternal purpose, and genuine relationships! I would much rather send an addicted person to a local church with solid biblical counseling than to a secular rehabilitation program. Both programs will teach the addict that addiction is a spiritual problem! One will teach that any god will do and label that god of personal choice a “Higher Power.”

The other will teach that only Jesus Christ the Lord will do (John 14:6) and that He is sufficient for transformation in this life (Rom. 12:1-2) and promises everlasting life to all who believe (John 3:16). These are significant distinctions in the two spiritual approaches! Church, we have an urgent and incredible opportunity here to “speak the truth in love” (Eph. 4:15) to hurting souls struggling with sins of an addictive nature.

Local Church Training
Thankfully, there are some very good gospel-centered, biblically-based programs that exist. I have been systematically networking with faith-based addictions outreach programs across the country for many years, and I am eager to share with you what I am seeing. We have re-launched a 10-year-old ministry called Truth in Love Ministries so that I can be available to train local churches to creatively reach out to addicts and their families. Visit our website at www.histruthinlove.org to see upcoming training dates in your area or to contact us about providing training in your church. With the world crying out for help and believing that addiction is a hopeless, lifelong disease, the Church has an opportunity to glorify the God of the universe, who is still on His throne and transforming lives by His amazing grace.

Questions for Reflection
What is your church doing to reach the addicted community? How is a biblical approach to addiction different than a worldly one? Why does it matter?

[1] Greg Allen, “Cost of U.S. Opioid Epidemic Since 2001 is $1 Trillion and Climbing,” last modified February 13, 2018. https://www.npr.org/sections/health-shots/2018/02/13/585199746/cost-of-u-s-opioid-epidemic
[2] This is NOT an endorsement of belief in purgatory but an analogy. I do not believe purgatory is a real place because I do not find it ANYWHERE in the pages of the Scriptures!

TAC Staff Note: This article was originally published at BiblicalCounselingCoalition.org on March 26, 2018. View the original post here.

Click to Tweet: What is your church doing to reach the addicted community? https://ctt.ec/iNf7o+ #BiblicalHelp4Addiction</a

About Mark Shaw

Mark E. Shaw (D. Min.) is President and Founder of Truth in Love Ministries and The Addiction Connection. He resides in Florence, KY, with his wife and children. The author of 20 publications including The Heart of Addiction, Addiction-Proof Parenting, and Divine Intervention: Hope and Help for Families of Addicts, Mark enjoys speaking, training, and traveling for the purpose of encouraging and edifying local churches in their outreach to hurting souls.

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