Question: I need scriptures for a recovering alcoholic …
Answer: Here are some articles I think will help especially the first one, which goes into how to work with an alcoholic:
Ways others Can Help the Alcoholic
“Every problem people face has a spiritual solution. The ever-increasing problem of alcoholism is no exception. God has provided a way of escape. Those who are trying to help alcoholics must believe this. Otherwise, counseling an alcoholic or dealing with a family member ensnared in alcohol addiction can be a frustrating experience. The situation is so complex, so staggering, that there seems to be no solution apart from the conviction that God has provided a way of escape. [“No temptation has overtaken you except such as is common to man; but God is faithful, who will not allow you to be tempted beyond what you are able, but with the temptation will also make the way of escape, that you may be able to bear it.” (1 Corinthians 10:13)]
“The road to rehabilitation may be long and difficult, but there is hope. First we must come to understand the alcoholic and the product that has enslaved him. Then we must inform ourselves about the ways in which he can be helped. Whether we are working in a rescue mission, or as a pastor or counselor, or whether we suffer the alcohol addiction of one of our loved ones, there are definite ways we can help the alcoholic. We will consider these in detail in this section.
“A father had just stumbled home and was sprawled on the floor in a drunken stupor. His distraught wife knelt beside him, threw her body across his, and in anguish cried out in prayer. ‘God, deliver him from the power of drink. Make him a decent husband and father again. I commend him to Thee in the name of Christ!’
“A widow with two small children, she had married this man after his first wife died, leaving him with three small children. For several years they were very happy—until drink began to get its claws into Clarence.
“In time they were separated, and the wife, following the advice of well-meaning friends and going against her own judgment, divorced him. He went off into the never-never land of the alcoholic in a helpless, hopeless, self-centered search for one bottle after another.
“It was twelve years before she saw Clarence again. This time he was sober and a respected member of the community. He was on the staff of the rescue mission where he had found Christ as his Savior. It was our privilege to remarry them.
“’I prayed for Clarence’s salvation for twelve years,’ she told me. ‘I knew he was going to become a Christian. I kept asking God to save him.’
“Three years or more before they met again and were remarried she heard that he had become a believer. ‘My prayers changed,’ she continued. ‘I thanked God for saving him and delivering him from the power of drink. I started praying that we might be reunited if that was God’s plan for our lives.’
“The first way to help the alcoholic is to pray for him [her]. ‘You can do more than pray after you’ve prayed,’ S.D. Gordon says in his book Quiet Talks on Prayer, “But you cannot do more than pray until you have prayed.”
“There is no area in which this statement is truer than in working with the alcoholic. There is much that can be done for him [her], but we cannot successfully do anything until we have committed our loved one into the hands of the Lord.
“’Our prayer,’ Mr. Gordon explains, ‘is God’s opportunity to get into the world which shut Him out.’
“Put the alcoholic on your prayer list, and pray for him by name daily, believing that God is going to deliver him. The most powerful weapon we have is prayer. Because it is so powerful, we must know how to handle it. [See our Ephesians study part 6 for more on this area of prayer in a spiritual battle.]
“Prayer is so important in dealing with the alcoholic because the alcoholic cannot be helped unless he wants to be. Before anything can be done for him, he must reach the place where he asks for help himself. We can only help him decide that he wants help and will cooperate with the help he gets. The first step in accomplishing this is through prayer.
“There are a few simple ground rules we must understand and follow if our prayer lives are to be successful.
Be Sure You Are a Member of God’s Family
“Prayer is a privilege and duty of the children of God. When the disciples asked the Lord Jesus to teach them to pray, He said, ‘When ye pray, say, Our Father which art in heaven’ (Luke 11:2).
“If our prayers are going to be effective, we must first determine our relationship with the Lord Jesus Christ. Have we experienced a personal deliverance from sin through faith in Christ? Have we been born into the family of God? If we have, we know that we have a right to pray to God as our heavenly Father. [For more on this go to our article What does it Mean to be Born Again.]
Where Do We Begin?
“When we first consider the problem of alcoholism and make an attempt to understand the alcoholic, we are apt to be overwhelmed. The problem is so bewildering and has so many ramifications we scarcely know where to begin. We feel as though we are in a maze and find it easy to forget that the most important thing we can do for the alcoholic is to present Christ to him [her].
“To be sure it isn’t always possible to preach the gospel to every man on every occasion. You can’t present Christ to him effectively if he is in a drunken stupor or needs medical attention. But we must always keep our attention focused on this one fact: the most important thing we can do for the alcohol addict is to speak to him [her] of Christ at the earliest possible moment. [“For I am not ashamed of the gospel of Christ, for it is the power of God to salvation for everyone who believes, for the Jew first and also for the Greek.” (Romans 1:16).]
“Garland Thompson, the founder and superintendent of the Open Door Mission in Omaha for a number of years, taught me this. He had never been an alcoholic, nor had he made a special study of alcoholism. His entire life had been devoted to prayer and personal witnessing.
“I have seen Garland put an arm around a man who was too drunk to talk, telling him that God loves him and praying for him before he sent him on his way to sober up or perhaps to get medical attention. I had the privilege of talking to some of those same men after they were won to Christ.
“Know what set me to thinking?” they would tell me gratefully. “It was Garland Thompson putting his arm around me and telling me that God loves me and because He loves me, you guys here at the mission were going to help me. I was pretty drunk, but that got through.” It was Christ who worked the victory in the lives of such men (and women), freeing them from alcoholism. In my own experience, it was the gospel of the Lord Jesus Christ that got hold of me after everything else had failed. If your alcoholic is to be delivered, you must present the gospel to him.
“That may not always be easy. A good friend of mine with an alcoholic brother found that to be true. ‘I’ve had all of you I can take!’ his brother snarled at him. ‘Now leave me alone!’
“An attorney discouraged him when he mentioned trying to get help for his brother through the gospel. The attorney scornfully said, ‘If the psychiatrists and trained people at the state hospital weren’t able to help him, I’m sure your religious friend wouldn’t be able to do anything for him.’
“As the “religious friend,” I wasn’t able to help personally, but I was able to point the young alcoholic to the One who could solve all his problems. He became a stalwart Christian.
“Working with alcoholics is not the most enjoyable part of a pastor’s ministry. The alcoholic is often difficult, surly, and uncooperative. Usually he thinks that anyone who tries to help him is a personal enemy. He is secretive, untruthful, and suspicious, and is apt to be involved in immorality, the writing of bad checks, and gambling. His excessive and compulsive drinking has deeply hurt and affected the lives of—on the average—five innocent persons. He has become a blight on his family and his community.
“The average pastor has gone through some difficult experiences with alcoholics—experiences similar to those I have had.
Here I would like to share some of my own experiences. We were missionaries in Trinidad and Tobago in the West Indies, and we were helping with church services in a little town called Lopinot. One night during the service there was a commotion in the snacket, the local bar, next door to where the church was being held underneath a home. The houses in Trinidad are often built up on the second story with maybe a carport underneath, or a place for animals. Anyway, we were wondering what the noise was all about, and it turned out that the men had been fighting and one had stabbed the other in the side.
The men loaded the injured person in a car, and throwing caution to the wind, sped off for the hospital in the city on the narrow single lane road leading out of the village of Lopinot. As they raced along, a woman and her child were walking beside the narrow road, unaware of the oncoming danger. Speeding around the curvy road, the driver, in his haste, failed to see the woman and the small child. The car hit the woman, dragging her under and, as I remember it, injuring the infant as well. Pastor K.K. and myself visited the man after he returned home from the hospital. His injuries had not been life threatening, so he was doing well, but the baby’s mom had died. All this happened because some men wanted to have a “happy hour” at the local bar. “Wine is a mocker, strong drink is a brawler, and whoever is led astray by it is not wise.” (Proverbs 20:1)
A friend of my dads, who lived in Moses Lake, Washington, had been drinking and had a head on collision with another car, killing himself and everyone in the other car. The sad thing is that he knew Scripture, and I know my dad witnessed to him after he was saved, but whether he was ever saved or not, I don’t know. (See the tractWhat Happened to Shorty?) I could go on with many more personal experiences like this. Or I could tell about people who were saved and drinking, messing up their lives, and how they got right with the Lord, and began serving Jesus Christ by reaching out to others.
“Stan Collie was such a man. He had degenerated to the point where, at forty years of age, he allowed his wife and six children to go hungry so he could have something to drink. On Saturday nights his wife and two of the older youngsters would go down to the business district of their little northern Saskatchewan community to pick him out of the gutter and pull him home in a coaster wagon.
“Then Christ got hold of him. His life was transformed. He began to witness to others and soon developed a great burden for the Indian people who lived in the Canadian north. Today he is known as the founder of the Northern Canada Evangelical Mission, an organization that has become a great force for God with almost two hundred missionaries all across Canada. We should look upon each man [woman] as an opportunity.
Counseling Takes Time
“Often pastors are reluctant to work with the alcoholic because of the time it requires. We feel there is so much to do in seeing that the various church activities run smoothly and the needs of the rest of the congregation are met that we can’t devote the time to one individual.
“You have to throw the clock away when you’re dealing with the alcoholic,” Charles Morey of the Chicago Christian Industrial League said. ‘It is probably the most time-consuming type of counseling most of us will ever do.’
“Some pastors solve the problem by forming a team of concerned men within the church to work with the individual alcohol addict and help him out of alcoholism… (God is for the Alcoholic Jerry Dunn with Bernard Palmer) You will have to read the book for yourself; it has some other great ways to reach alcoholics.
I hope this helps, and we will be praying for you,
Gary T. Panell
For more information email me. [email protected]