This song is my prayer for people who struggle with drug and/or alcohol addiction: that one day they would exalt the Lord Jesus with their lives. I pray that the Father would intervene into their lives and release grace to them and pull them from their addictions. I firmly believe that without God’s direct intervention addicts and alcoholics will be hopelessly bound by their addiction. Sure, I believe that to some degree people can manage their addiction for awhile, even a long while. But, for true freedom from addictions, this only comes through the grace and power of God. So join the 420 Prayer Movement today and begin praying for the many people who struggle with addictions!
Addiction is sin, make no mistake. When a person is caught in the snare of addiction, what has happened is that they have over time repeatedly placed first, above all else, whatever they are addicted to and have come to depend on this substance (both tangible or intangible) over and above everything else in their life (a place in which only God deserves to be). This is why addicted people will endure through so much for their addiction. They’ve made an idol of their addiction, choosing to bow down in worship to their addiction as they give themselves over to their addiction again and again. Escaping (getting high) has become the ultimate goal of their life. I believe James has it right when he says, “Temptation comes from our own desires, which entice us and drag us away. These desires give birth to sinful actions. And when sin is allowed to grow, it gives birth to death” (James 1:14-15 NLT). If and when addiction is left unattended and left to grow without restraint death becomes the only option. But, this is not where the story ends. There is Good News. Jesus Himself says, “So if the Son sets you free, you will be free indeed” (John 8:36 NIV). Wow! What amazing words. To know Jesus means to be set free by Him from the bondage of sin, to be set from from our addictions. But, in order to be set free by Jesus a person needs to know Him. So, what does it mean to know Jesus?
I don’t believe a person, who has a casual relationship with Jesus can say that they know Him. They may know of Him, but to truly be able to say that you know Jesus is to know Him as the Son of God. In order to truly know Jesus, a person needs to understand their deep need for Him. I was talking with a person the other day and while I was talking with him, I heard the Holy Spirit say to my spirit, “he (the person I was talking with) doesn’t see a need for Jesus in his life right now.” I believe this is right. Unless a person sees a need to invite Jesus into their life, then why would they bother pursuing to know Him. And if they did pursue Him, I believe the relationship would be a superficial one at best because anyone can know Jesus as a good person or even a prophet of sorts, but to know Him as the Son of God demands faith. And unless a person is willing to put their faith in Jesus as the Son of God, then He will always be just another person like you and me. But, to know Jesus and to place your faith in Him as the Son of God means to also know Him as Savior, Lover, Redeemer and Friend. And if you know Him like this you will love Him and be drawn into worship to Him because you will have realized that it is only through His sacrifice on a cross for the sins of the world (including yours) that you have peace with God, with people and within yourself. And it is when we are worshiping Jesus that we are propelled into a deep abiding intimacy with Him. This is what it means to know Jesus and be set free by Him.
Walking out the freedom that Jesus extends to His followers is easier said than done. The sad reality of our fallen condition is that we would rather live the way we are familiar and comfortable with, even if it means living in bondage, rather than embrace the new and unfamiliar way that Jesus has for us. I mean, the scary part of being a new creation in Christ (2 Corinthians 5:17) is the deep longing to be transformed, but not knowing what that looks like and the difficulty in being able to recognize the new way when God brings it into our lives. But, I do believe that the more we learn to embrace this new way, the more our hearts will trust in God’s ways where the rocky road of sanctification will become more comfortable to us than the smooth road of convenience. At the heart of this is trust: learning to trust in the goodness and grace of God.
Rather than rattle off verse after Scripture verse that talks about the goodness and grace of God (I do recommend doing a word search of both words) I think a better question to ask is, “What kind of thorns and scars do you have in and on your heart?” You see, it is these thorns and scars (our woundedness) that keeps us from living free because our woundedness keeps both God and people at arm’s length. It’s our woundedness that distorts the way we see the world, people, ourselves and God. But, the Good News is that God is lovingly faithful and patient and His perfect love has a way of healing our hearts. The more we soak in His love the more our hearts are tenderized both towards Him and people. What I love about God’s unconditional love is that His love is active, meaning, His love moves Him to pursue us. Isn’t that the words of John 3:16 “For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life.”
When I came to faith roughly 10 years ago, I remember feeling so inadequate in my ability to both give and receive love. I also remember being moved by Holy Spirit to begin asking Jesus to show me what it means to love and be loved. I literally prayed this prayer for at least three years, if not longer. Today, I’m feeling the same tugging at my heart to begin again praying this prayer. It’s humbling, the deeper I delve into the Father’s heart, the more aware I become of the shallowness of my own love, both for God and others. From my perspective, living free means the ability to love free. But, our woundedness is stingy with love and likes to horde love which hinders us from loving freely. Now a verse that has been a great comfort to me is “We love because he first loved us” (1 John 4:19 NIV). What this says to me is that I don’t have to generate love on my own, rather all I need to do is lean into the Father’s perfect unconditional love and His love will begin to fuel and fire my own love which will also set me free to love.
When I look at Jesus’ life while He walked the earth, I see a man who loved passionately, faithfully, authentically, virtuously and completely free. Jesus knew what it meant to love and live in freedom. Nothing held Jesus back from living and loving free because He fully understood our Father’s love for Him. He knew without a shadow of a doubt that He was God’s beloved Son. It is the same for us, knowing that we are God’s beloved sons and daughters changes everything because the more fully we embrace this reality, the more readily we will “approach the throne of grace with confidence, so that we may receive mercy and find grace to help us in our time of need” (Hebrews 4:16 NIV). I know personally, the more I am around the throne of grace, the more I understand who God is to me and who I am to God. He is my beloved Father and I am His beloved child in whom He adores and delights. When we experience the depths of the Father’s love, His love heals, saves, redeems, restores and sustains us. Remember nothing can separate us from the love God has for us in Jesus (Romans 8:31-39).
Living free means loving free. Being a new creation in Christ means becoming more and more like Him each and everyday which means learning to love more passionately, faithfully, authentically, virtuously and completely free. Jesus promises us that if If we seek the freedom to live and love free, we will find it (Matthew 7:7,8). I don’t know about you, but that sounds like Good News to me. This is my prayer: “Jesus, show us what it means to love and be loved. Show us how to live and love freely. Teach us to love like You. Heal the wounds of our hearts that hinders us from living and loving free. Whatever it takes Jesus because You are worth it. We love You our Savior King! Amen.”
Have you ever really thought about what it means to truly live free? At first impulse, most of us would probably define this as: the freedom to do whatever we please, whenever we please. But, I believe that living like this will actually put us into more bondage, rather than freedom. I mean if we really sat down and took an honest look at our lives, we would see that we are all in bondage to a variety of things, both tangible and intangible, that keep us from living a truly abundantly full life. Now without going into detail about what an abundantly full life looks like. Simply put, from my perspective an abundantly full life is a life free from sin where we can actually choose not to do things. For me, that’s the core characteristic of freedom. When we are in bondage to something we lose the ability to choose. The world teaches that freedom is the ability to do anything, anytime regardless of the consequences. But, I believe that true freedom is the ability to choose to not do something. What is it in your life that has stolen your ability to choose?
Addiction is the epitome of the loss of freedom and there are so many addicted people in the world. Now, this may or may not surprise you, but, I believe, if we are all really honest with ourselves we will see, even admit, that we are all prone towards addiction. Take the the 420 Prayer Movement, we exists because of the harsh reality of the prevalence of drug and alcohol addiction. But, there are lots of people who are addicted to other tangible things like: smoking, gambling, food, video games, the Internet, sex, shopping, work, gossiping etc. But, there are also lots of people who are addicted to intangible things (which often times underlie the tangible addictions: anger (rageaholism), lust (fantasizing), stress & anxiety (always being in crisis), greed (accumulation of stuff), comfort (adverse to any change), laziness (lack of motivation), pain (self-punishment/mutilation), etc. But, the story doesn’t stop with our addictions. At the heart of the 420 Prayer Movement is the greater reality that true freedom can happen through Jesus. Do you believe this?
I mean, we all may say we believe this, but do your prayers reflect the truth that God is still supernaturally transforming lives? More specificallly, that He not only is able to set people free from addictions, but that He actually wants to do this because I believe He does. If you have never heard my story, please check it out because my own life is testimony to this truth. Too often I hear people say, “Well, that’s just the way I am” or even “What’s the use, I can’t change.” What this says to me is that they’ve lost any hope to change and are living purely coping lives without much hope, let alone joy. Addiction has a nasty way of sapping any and all hope, life and joy from people’s lives. But, that’s not what the Gospel says, at the heart of Jesus’ ministry was to preach good news to the poor, to proclaim freedom for the prisoners, recovery of sight for the blind and to release the oppressed because the year of the Lord’s favor has arrived (Luke 4:18, 19). What all of this tells me is that Jesus came to set people free! He even says, “So if the Son sets you free, you are truly free” (John 8:36 NLT). Are you free?