Sunday, October 12, 2008

The Steps of the Matt Talbot Way to Sobriety

Based on the book, To Slake a Thirst: The Matt Talbot Way to Sobriety (2000) by Philip Maynard, Ted S. founded a public online group at SocialCircle.Com, named the "Matt Talbot Way to Sobriety," which now appears inactive. The following are Tim's posts as to the steps that Matt Talbot used in his recovery from alcoholism.

"The Steps of the Matt Talbot Way to Sobriety"
Tim S.

The seven steps are:

1. Daily Offering to give up drinking for love of Jesus Christ.

2. Christ-centered prayer to keep focused on Christ. Saying the Jesus Prayer multiple times throughout the day is one way to do this.

3. Dedication Prayer that dedicates your actions of the day to grow in love of Christ and imitation of Him.

4. Spiritual Reading which includes but not limited to the Bible.

5. Short Prayers during the day. Can be spontaneous prayers or formula prayers...again this keeps us focused on Christ.

6. Evening Prayer. Prayers of thanksgiving, praise, and contrition.

7. Christian Living. It is the height of hypocrisy to talk the talk but not walk the talk.

The following replies are the steps in detail and most of the material comes directly from the book, "To Slake a Thirst" by Philip Maynard. What I have lined out here is but a very brief summary of the Steps and the material contained in the book.

Step 1. The Daily Offering

Heavenly Father, being mindful of the heroic example of your servant Matt Talbot, I offer you during this day myself, all my works and prayers, joys and sorrows, and in particular, the worldly pleasures and delights of alcohol [or drugs or whatever else you are attached to but have decided to give up], which I forgo, as an expression of love for your Son, Jesus Christ. I pray that these gifts may be pleasing to you and that you will favor me with your blessing, through the same Christ, our Lord. Amen.

2. Christ-centered prayer.

The Jesus Prayer is probably the easiest way to stay focused on Jesus all day. It is a simple prayer that can be said multiple times during the day to break the monotony of mundane tasks such as driving, or during repetitive chores during the workday. The prayer goes like this:

Lord Jesus Christ, Son of God, have mercy on me a sinner.

The Jesus Prayer has a long history going back to the early centuries of the Church. For the early Christians, it was a way to pray ceaselessly. Today it is especially well-known to Orthodox Christians; but many others say it as a simple and direct way to raise their minds and hearts to Jesus.

As you repeatedly pray the Jesus Prayer, your mind should be directed to the single thought of the God-Man, Jesus Christ, both in his humanity and his divinity. There is no special magic attached to the numbers of times you say it, but by praying it repeatedly throughout the day, you express the extent of your commitment to Christ.

3. Dedication of prayers of the day.

O Holy Spirit, may I receive Jesus Christ into my heart through you. As Mary his mother did, may I learn to know and love him without measure as Lord and Savior. Draw me to him so I can imitate him in all things and thereby obtain the blessing off my heavenly Father, through the same Christ, our Lord. Amen.

This prayer gives purpose to the other steps of The Way. It expresses your general intention that as a result of all your prayers, your love for Jesus Christ may grow "without measure."

4. Spiritual Reading

Through prayer you will be able to develop your love of God to the point where it acts as a counter-attraction to your fondness for drink. Love comes from the heart, but the heart needs to be stimulated by the mind. Not only must you begin to know what it is you must love, but you must constantly increase your knowledge of it. If you are to truly grow in love of Christ, you must systematically build a foundation of knowledge to nourish your faith and ultimately your prayers.

A good guideline is to spend at least 15 minutes a day reading spiritual matters. This is the only part of the Matt Talbot Way outside of recitation of the prayers, that make demands on your time. When you think back to all the time you have wasted using and then sobering up, you should have no trouble finding these few minutes. A good time is just before going to bed.

The foundation of your reading should be the Bible, particularly the New Testament. You must learn about what sort of man Jesus is and even if you have read all the stories about Him before, read it from now on as if you have never heard of Him. Prayer to the Holy Spirit prepares your heart before you begin reading the Scriptures. Other reading may compliment the foundation reading of the Bible. Examples would be a good book on the life of Christ or a Christ-centered daily devotional.

5. Short prayers throughout the day.

We tend to take the good things in life for granted as though God didn't give them to us at all. To overcome this natural insensitivity, it is good to look for ways to remind yourself that God is your Creator, you are his creature, and all good things of life depend upon him. Grace before meals is a simple reminder of that essential relationship.

Christ-centered prayers of Step Two, such as the Jesus Prayer (and for Catholics, the Rosary or Mass) are key to the Matt Talbot way; but you should look beyond them to spontaneously speak with God.

Some prayers to be said throughout the day to fulfill Step 5.

Prayer of St. Ignatius Loyola

Take, O Lord, and receive my entire liberty,
my memory, my understanding and my whole will.
All that I am and all that I possess You have given me.
I surrender it all to You to be disposed of according to Your will.
Give me only Your love and Your grace;
with these I will be rich enough,
and will desire nothing more.


Anima Christi

Soul of Christ, sanctify me.
Body of Christ, save me.
Blood of Christ, inebriate me.
Water from the side of Christ, wash me.
Passion of Christ, strengthen me.
O good Jesus, hear me.
Within Thy wounds hide me.
Suffer me not to be separated from Thee.
From the malignant enemy defend me.
In the hour of my death call me.
And bid me to come to Thee.
That with Thy Saints I may praise Thee
Forever and ever.


Prayer in Time of Anger

Lord Jesus, there is anger in my heart and I cannot root it out.
I know that I should calm down and offer the hurt and disappointment to You
but my emotion is running away with me.
Help me to overcome this weakness and give me peace of heart as well as mind.
Let me learn from this experience and grow into a better human being.


Prayer To Overcome Bitterness and Resentment

Father, I acknowledge that I've held resentment and bitterness against (name). I confess this as sin and ask You to forgive me. I forgive (name). Remind me, Lord, to not hold any more resentments, but rather to love this person. Father, I ask You to also forgive (name) . Thank You for hearing and answering my prayer. In Jesus' Holy Name,


Act of Faith

O my God, I firmly believe that Thou art one God in three Divine Persons, Father, Son and Holy Ghost; I believe that Thy divine Son became man, and died for our sins, and that He will come to judge the living and the dead. I believe these and all the truths which the Holy Catholic Church teaches, because Thou hast revealed them, who canst neither deceive nor be deceived.


Act of Hope

O my God, relying on Thy almighty power and infinite mercy and promises, I hope to obtain pardon of my sins, the help of Thy grace, and life everlasting, through the merits of Jesus Christ, my Lord and Redeemer.


Act of Love

O my God, I love Thee above all things, with my whole heart and soul, because Thou art all-good and worthy of all love. I love my neighbor as myself for the love of Thee. I forgive all who have injured me, and ask pardon of all whom I have injured.


6. Evening Prayers

You have complete freedom to say whatever prayers that you are comfortable with. You may keep them as brief as you wish. This is a good time to rededicate your actions and prayers of the day to your primary objective of growing in love for Jesus Christ.

7. Christian Living

An essential part of The Way is that followers adhere to generally recognized Christian norms of living. The demands of church and society must also be considered. It is the height of hypocrisy to make your Daily Offering upon awakening, and then live like a heathen the rest of the day, even though you say a few prayers. You are not expected to be perfect, but you must at least try to lead a Christian life. Christians by name are just that. Christians who practice their faith may be the only Bible some God seekers read.