By Whitney Hopler, Crosswalk.com
Are you struggling with an alcohol addiction, or do you know alcoholics you’d like to help? The best way to achieve sobriety is to seek help from God. No matter how challenging the recovery process is, God provides all the power people need to break free of addiction to alcohol. Here’s what the Bible says about alcohol and alcoholism, an alcoholic’s prayer, and how to support alcoholics in recovery.
Does the Bible Talk about Alcohol or Alcoholism?
The Bible provides wisdom about both alcohol and alcoholism. It presents alcohol as simply one of God’s gifts in nature that people can choose to enjoy if they like. However, the Bible also cautions that it is very important to be responsible when dealing with alcohol, to avoid drinking too much of it or becoming addicted to it.
Here are Bible verses about alcohol as a natural gift from God:
Ecclesiastes 9:7: “Go, eat your food with gladness, and drink your wine with a joyful heart, for God has already approved what you do.”
Psalms 104:14-15: “He makes grass grow for the cattle, and plants for people to cultivate – bringing forth food from the earth: wine that gladdens human hearts, oil to make their faces shine, and bread that sustains their hearts.”
1 Timothy 5:23: “Stop drinking only water, and use a little wine because of your stomach and your frequent illnesses.”
John 2:3-11: “When the wine was gone, Jesus’ mother said to him, ‘They have no more wine.’ ‘Woman, why do you involve me?’ Jesus replied. ‘My hour has not yet come.’ His mother said to the servants, ‘Do whatever he tells you.’ Nearby stood six stone water jars, the kind used by the Jews for ceremonial washing, each holding from twenty to thirty gallons. Jesus said to the servants, ‘Fill the jars with water’; so they filled them to the brim. Then he told them, ‘Now draw some out and take it to the master of the banquet.’ They did so, and the master of the banquet tasted the water that had been turned into wine. He did not realize where it had come from, though the servants who had drawn the water knew. Then he called the bridegroom aside and said, ‘Everyone brings out the choice wine first and then the cheaper wine after the guests have had too much to drink; but you have saved the best till now.’ What Jesus did here in Cana of Galilee was the first of the signs through which he revealed his glory; and his disciples believed in him.”
Isaiah 62:8-9: “The LORD has sworn by his right hand and by his mighty arm: ‘Never again will I give your grain as food for your enemies, and never again will foreigners drink the new wine for which you have toiled; but those who harvest it will eat it and praise the LORD, and those who gather the grapes will drink it in the courts of my sanctuary.”
Here are Bible verses about approaching alcohol wisely and avoiding alcoholism:
1 Corinthians 10:23-24: “‘I have the right to do anything,’ you say – but not everything is beneficial. ‘I have the right to do anything’ – but not everything is constructive. No one should seek their own good, but the good of others.”
Romans 14:20-21: “… All food is clean, but it is wrong for a person to eat anything that causes someone else to stumble. It is better not to eat meat or drink wine or to do anything else that will cause your brother or sister to fall.”
Proverbs 20:1: “Wine is a mocker and beer a brawler; whoever is led astray by them is not wise.”
Proverbs 23:31: “Do not gaze at wine when it is red, when it sparkles in the cup, when it goes down smoothly!”
Romans 13:13: “Let us behave decently, as in the daytime, not in carousing and drunkenness, not in sexual immorality and debauchery, not in dissension and jealousy.”
Galatians 5:19-21: “The acts of the flesh are obvious: sexual immorality, impurity and debauchery; idolatry and witchcraft; hatred, discord, jealousy, fits of rage, selfish ambition, dissensions, factions and envy; drunkenness, orgies, and the like. I warn you, as I did before, that those who live like this will not inherit the kingdom of God.”
Proverbs 31:4-5: “It is not for kings, Lemuel – it is not for kings to drink wine, not for rulers to crave beer, lest they drink and forget what has been decreed, and deprive all the oppressed of their rights.”
Ephesians 5:18: “Do not get drunk on wine, which leads to debauchery. Instead, be filled with the Spirit,”.
Photo Credit: ©Getty Images/KatarzynaBialasiewicz
An Alcoholic’s Prayer and How to Pray It
Here’s a prayer for God’s intervention to break free of alcohol addiction:
“God, I’m tired of how my addiction to alcohol is harming my health and hurting the people I love. I want to be sober. But I can’t stop drinking on my own. Please help me, God. Break the control that alcohol has over me, and give me the power I need to heal. Lead me to the best treatment plan. I’m willing to do whatever I should do to achieve sobriety – work with a doctor, go to therapy sessions with a counselor, join a support group, go to rehab, or anything else. Renew my mind so I won’t be triggered to drink alcohol, but instead will learn healthy ways to manage stress and have fun. Heal my body from the damage that alcohol has caused, and retrain my cells not to crave alcohol but to crave only healthy nourishment. Surround me with loving and wise people who will support me in my recovery. Stay close to me, my heavenly Father. Please give me your peace. I commit to relying on you to guide and help me each day of my journey to sobriety, and beyond. Thank you for all your help, God. Amen.”
3 Ways to Support Alcoholics in Recovery
Here are three ways to support the recovery of alcoholics in your life:
1. Encourage them to face their feelings. Often, people drink alcohol to numb their feelings. That may temporarily make them feel better, but ultimately, it will only make them feel worse. In my book Wake Up to Wonder, I share a story about an alcoholic paramedic I met at a birthday party who was in pain after going through a divorce and losing custody of his children. He described how he numbed his painful feelings by drinking alcohol, and then giving himself IV fluids to recover from his hangovers. He seemed proud of his plan to drink his feelings into oblivion. But I couldn’t help but think how much better life would be for him to face his pain while sober. While that would hurt at first, it would then lead him to notice how God was at work amid his pain. It was sadly ironic that he helped others heal in his paramedic work, yet he was blocking his own healing process by numbing his feelings through alcohol, rather than face those emotions. Emotions are gifts from God, meant to act as signals to help us pay attention to issues we need to address in our lives. God often uses emotions as teaching tools. So, by encouraging alcoholics to face their feelings, you’re supporting their learning and spiritual growth. The most important way to encourage alcoholics to face feelings is to listen with compassion when the talk about how they feel. Don’t judge them or give them unsolicited advice. Simply show them you care by listening with unconditional love.
2. Help them get the help they need. Give the alcoholics you know information about resources that can help them break free of addiction: doctors, counselors, clergy, rehab, etc. Talk with them about their various treatment options, and figure out a treatment plan with them. Offer to help them with their practical needs, such as accompanying them to appointments or contributing to other needs while they’re pursuing treatment (such as childcare and meals). Let them know you’re praying for them, and encourage them to move forward to get sober and heal.
3. Support them in their recovery process. Do everything you can to be supportive as they recover from alcoholism. Pray for them regularly, asking God to give them peace, healing, and strength. Refrain from drinking any alcohol when you’re with them, so they won’t be unnecessarily tempted to drink. Don’t pressure them to go to restaurants or parties where they may encounter other people drinking alcohol. Help them find ways to relieve stress and have fun that doesn’t involve alcohol. Ask them how their recovery is going – and when they tell you, listen without judging them. Encourage them to rely on God, day by day. Let them know they can count on you to be a supportive person in their lives, no matter what.
The Bible reveals that alcohol is a part of nature that people can enjoy if they like – but it’s vital to do so responsibly. Drinking too much alcohol can cause significant harm to people’s health, and lead them to become addicted to alcoholic drinks. If you or other people in your life are struggling with alcoholism, God will provide healing. Reach out to God through the alcoholic’s prayer and then rely on God’s help on the journey to sobriety. No matter how strong an alcohol addiction may be, God’s power is much stronger.
Photo Credit: ©GettyImages/tommaso79
Whitney Hopler is the author of the Wake Up to Wonder book and the Wake Up to Wonder blog, which help people thrive through experiencing awe. She leads the communications work at George Mason University’s Center for the Advancement of Well-Being. Whitney has served as a writer, editor, and website developer for leading media organizations, including Crosswalk.com, The Salvation Army USA’s national publications, and Dotdash.com (where she produced a popular channel on angels and miracles). She has also written the young adult novel Dream Factory. Connect with Whitney on Twitter and Facebook.