“Before he can be delivered from drugs, he needs to find out what’s at the core,” said the woman at my Bible study after I shared with the group about a loved one’s battle with drug addiction.
This woman who appeared in her 30s admitted she battled drug addiction in the past.
“I found out my deep issue was shame. Until I dealt with shame, I couldn’t be delivered from drugs.”
When Eileen passed along that insight, a word came to mind about my loved one: “abandonment.”
Later I texted him and asked the question, “What’s at the core?”
His immediate response? Abandonment.
I told him I would pray for him in relation to that issue.
As I thought about his core issue, I thought of my own addiction which I battled over the years—an addiction to food. God revealed quite a while ago at the core of my food addiction was shame. Even as a child when people shamed me, I ate—many times large amounts of sweets.
In recent days I returned to my pursuit of a sweet fix for my troubles. So I asked the Lord, “Do I still have shame issues?”
The answer which came to mind surprised me.
YES, IN RELATION TO PRAYER.
As I pondered this, I thought of how down I felt when others reported miraculous answers to prayers, while I prayed on and on—sometimes for decades with seemingly no answers. I prayed for healing of marriages, and divorce came. I prayed for salvation for scores of relatives with no one coming to the Lord. I prayed countless prayers for prodigals to come home, but they remained determined to live for their own pleasures.
At my church people fed my shame with statements like, “I prayed for my daughter for a couple months, and she came back to the Lord.” What I heard was “Shame on you for not being an excellent pray-er like me.”
In my recent time of contemplation over this, I realized when shame invaded my prayer life, and I felt like a total failure at the task, I ate to feel better.
In my work place recently, one of the therapists passed out a paper to the patients titled, “Core Belief Clusters.” One of the headings said “shame.”
(I looked up the word shame later: “a painful feeling of humiliation or distress caused by the consciousness of wrong or foolish behavior.”)
Here’s what it read on the handout:
I am…(core send of self)
I am unlovable/undeserving.
I am worthless/defective.
I am bad/selfish.
I am not good enough. (That was my main belief leaving my childhood.)
I am inadequate.
I am responsible.
All of these could relate to my prayer life and the conclusions my inner self came to because of the failure I saw there.
Across from these statements on the paper were other statements to counter the negative ones. I am okay as I am, I can accept myself, I am good enough, I can recognize appropriate responsibility. These were from a secular source, so I could add God to each statement to bring a powerful, healing truth.
I ran across a prayer list I prayed in recent days and saw that many of the prayers were answered for everyday things for myself: heal the pain in my leg, help me work out travel plan issues, help me to lose weight (I recently reached my lowest weight in over 30 years) Also, I prayed for healing of my daughter’s stomach problems, and after many months, they’re gone.
Once again I pray God will deliver me completely from shame. My prayers—especially for salvation, return of prodigals, and healing of relationships–aren’t being answered the way I want them to or rather in the time table I’d prefer, but God is at work. And He reminds me again and again that He’s not in time. I remember Him saying to me a while ago, YOUR PRAYERS ARE ALREADY ANSWERED.
I recall hearing that George Muller prayed salvation prayers for his friends from his youth for 50 years. And if I remember right, one of them received Jesus at George’s funeral and the others sometime after.
In recent days God revealed one way which helps to keep shame out of my prayer life and causes me to choose prayer above turning to sweets: to pray listening prayers. When I pray those kinds of prayers, God speaks to me about why certain relatives continue to stubbornly resist Him. He speaks to me about how to love them right where they’re at. He reminds me I AM WORKING IN THEIR LIVES He gently urges, RECEIVE MY PEACE.
I realize I failed to pray listening prayers for weeks, and that opened the door for the enemy to try to shame me again. And prayer time isn’t just about getting answers; it’s about communion with the Lord. And the enemy certainly doesn’t want that, so he uses shame to try to keep me from it.
I remember years ago a friend urged me not to let shame rule my life.
“Blame and shame is the devil’s game,” she said.
I praise the Lord that Jesus took my shame on the cross, and I no longer need to be affected by it.
And I thank God that He reveals when I need some more healing of core issues.
Lord, what do You have to say about this shame issue? ELAINE, I WILL SET YOU FREE AS YOU CONTINUE TO COME TO ME. SHAME CAUSES YOU TO WITHDRAW, SO EACH TIME YOU FIND YOURSELF AVOIDING PRAYER TIME, SHAME IS TRYING TO CREEP BACK IN. EXCHANGE THE SHAME WHEN YOU COME TO ME. I WILL NEVER SHAME YOU. INSTEAD I CHEER, ENCOURAGE, UPHOLD. I AM WITH YOU. I AM FOR YOU. I LOVE YOU. I ACCEPT YOU.
Lord, I receive that. Help me to live it.
Shame tries to drag us back into the dark, but we are the light of the world. The following song reminds me of that truth.
“We Are” by Kari Jobe