Sep 18, 2014 | By Tim Stoddart

Finding a Higher Power – 5 Practical Ways to Increase Spiritual Awareness


finding god in recovery
“Trust God. Clean house. Help others.” We have all heard that one before.

Sounds simple enough, but is it really that simple? The most common form of apprehension within recovery organizations, especially twelve-step based programs, lies in the concept of finding a higher power. I have heard people say countless times that “they don’t get the whole God thing.” These uncertainties are not without merit and unfortunately, reluctance to find a higher power keeps many addicts from finding recovery and balance.

With this article, we hope to share some personal experience regarding what it means to find a higher power, and more importantly, why believing in a power greater than yourself has huge benefits in recovery and in life.

God and the Twelve Steps

Very few people come into a twelve-step program with a clear understanding of their beliefs, and even fewer live in spiritual principles. “Living in” the spiritual principles is a concept outlined in the Big Book of Alcoholics Anonymous. The biggest mistake people make is assuming that a higher power is a predetermined concept that they are forced to accept. It is clearly stated in the Big Book that one should “choose a God of his or her own understanding.” This is very confusing for many people. So what does it mean exactly?

We like to keep it very simple and take an open-minded approach in matters of God. Ideas will differ from person to person. I will speak to my own experience of the journey I took to find a higher power and how it has helped me.

A higher power is simply something bigger than yourself. The idea is simple. It is something to belong to. People need to feel connected to something. It is human instinct for us to need to feel a “part of” and to feel like we belong. For me, a higher power was something as simple as energy.

Like many other young people entering recovery, I was confused with how a God of my understanding would help me. I asked, “What does God have to do with any of this?”

Many addicts spend their lives on a path governed by self-will. Self-will and control is an illusion; it only exists in our own perception of reality. Finding a higher power is a way to give up control and subsequently, give up the burden of the future. The only thing any of us can control are our own actions. That’s it. Everything else is, and always will be, completely out of our control. “Giving it to God” is simply a medium to acceptance. The closer you are connected to your higher power, the easier it is to hand stuff over.

Science and Spirituality

When I first heard this idea, I was defensive. I spent so many years thinking that God was simply a mechanism humans created to give clarity to things we don’t understand. I didn’t, and still don’t, feel comfortable with the idea that life is predestined for us, by God. I am analytical and I like empirical data.

In the beginning of my recovery I was simply taking things at face value. I was acting on suggestions given to me by other people. I heard that if I did these things, I would stay sober and that’s what I wanted. However, I could not deny that very little of this made sense to me. But I kept searching.

Here is what happened for me. I do not say this to impose my beliefs on you. I am simply pointing out that if it is possible for me to find a higher power, it is possible for anyone else who may have doubts.

I’ve always believed that everything in the Universe has energy. Moreover everything IS energy. This is scientifically proven. Everything is connected. I studied this idea. It became clear to me that science and spirituality really aren’t all that different.

Everything in the Universe is connected; the plants, the sky, the stars, and even gravity. It all interacts in perfect harmony to create this beautiful existence and relationship of energy. I realized that I already had a higher power. I didn’t need convincing because it was based on fact. I found that merely being alive meant that I was connected to everyone around me and everything that will ever exist. This was such a revelation. I found something to believe in. At the time, I still didn’t understand why I needed it.

finding a higher power in recovery

How Can a Higher Power Help Me??

Living in self will brings a lot of pressure. When we try to control the outcome of things, we find that we have little success. Whatever happens, happens without our consent. Understanding that there is a governing force behind everything takes away the burden of control. Whatever is going to happen is just going to happen. The truth is, there is very little you or I or anyone can do about controling the outcome of life.

Surrendering control of results will free your mind and your spirit. Don’t let the Higher Power dilemma keep you from living your life.

An analogy that I find helpful is swimming up current in a river.  The river is going to flow however it decides to flow. The river is more powerful than I am. I cannot control the river. What I can control is my actions. If I am stuck in a river I can choose to fight the current. This will leave me exhausted and I will not get anywhere. I will waste energy. My other option is to let the river take me on its own course. So, I can save my energy and live with the results of where my higher power decides I should be. It is tough to not fight the current. It is tough to humbly admit that there is nothing I can do. I assure you, letting the current of life take you is much easier and a much more enjoyable way of life.

A higher power will give you something to belong to. Belonging to something stronger than yourself gives you strength because you are no longer alone. You will be tapped in to an infinite amount of energy. We need only to let go of control and listen to where our higher power is directing us. We all want to feel connected.

How Do I Find A Higher Power?

I realize that what I have said may not make sense to everyone. What is most important is that this message reaches those who are still confused about God. This all sounds well and grand, but how does someone come to believe?

Here are a few straight-forward tips that will help you find what you are searching for.

1 – Be Open Minded

Listen to everything people have to say. You don’t have to agree with everyone. It is absolutely your right to disagree with someone’s views. Still, listen with an open mind. Consume the information and then make a decision weather it works for you or not. You will find you have more in common with other people than you think.

2 – Meditate

Be still. Listen. In life, and especially within our society, it is so difficult to quiet our minds. It is very hard to find peace with so much commotion going on around us all the time. Dedicate some time to be by yourself; no music, no cell phone, no TV. Sit still and practice being in the moment. Do this consistently and you will reach new depths of self-discovery.

3 – Pray

Personally, when I pray I don’t think anyone is listening. I am not convinced there is an all-knowing deity listening to what I have to say. The important thing is that when you pray, you are engaged with your higher power. You are forming a relationship with the governing forces of the Universe. I can’t explain how or why, but I promise you that the Universe will talk back.

4 -Help People

When you serve others, you are getting outside of yourself. When we help other people, all of our own fears and insecurities disappear because we are focused on something outside of ourselves. Serving others is a direct line to understanding a higher power. When you feel the result of a good deed, it is its own reward and you will likely feel a part of something much greater.

5 – Keep Searching

You must stay open to new ideas and discoveries. No one will ever completely understand God. The human condition does not allow for absolute clarity in this. The more answers you find, the more questions you will have. This is a good thing because your willingness to search is directly correlated with your willingness to grow. No matter how content, how old, or, how confident we may become, it is critical that we always keep our mind and our hearts open.


I want to reiterate that nothing I have said today is fact. This is simply an understanding I have formed based on my own personal experience. If you agree with what I have said, that’s great. If I helped you in any way that’s even better. If you think everything I have said is horse shit, that is perfectly fine.

The important part is to see that we all have our own journey and all of us can find that peace and serenity that comes along with being a part of something bigger than ourselves.

When I look up at the night sky and I know that yes, we are part of this universe, we are in this universe, but perhaps more important than both of these facts is that the Universe is in us.

– Neil deGrasse Tyson

36 responses to “Finding a Higher Power – 5 Practical Ways to Increase Spiritual Awareness

  • Great interpretation of higher power! 66 days clean I am so grateful that I have found a higher power!

  • Christine

    10 years ago

    Thank you! This is a very well written article. You speak clearly and honestly and allow the reader to think their own way. One of the most precious people in my life is in recovery so that’s why I read your stuff, but this article can be helpful to anyone on a spiritual search or even to someone who doesn’t think they need a higher power in the first place.
    Thanks again. Namaste.

  • Thanks so much for sharing! Sometimes I get so caught up in the hustle of the day that I actually forget to pray and really
    Feel God’s presence. I have to consciously remember that He is here. On the days that I start my morning with prayer and meditation, I can feel my higher power with me throughout the day… I also surround myself with reminders of my recovery and higher power by wearing inspirational jewelery. It helps to remember when my mind goes to a dark place… Check out Pretty cool site… And thanks again for your share!

  • You are forming a relationship with the governing forces of the Universe.
    God is the Universe. You are forming a relationship with God. You are praying to God. I pray brothers and sisters that you will believe in that God.

  • joe verdier

    10 years ago

    I have been a Buddhist for a long time. I became a meditation master seven years ago. When people describe meditation like you have in this article you really covered nothing. Meditation takes work and dedication to achive results ! It will not lead you to a higher power.Inner peace is very hard to come by. Meditation comes in many forms. Most people in the west no very little of eastern thinking. Stick with prayer. If you seek to go to a deeper level seek help.

    • Justin Peniche

      9 years ago

      I see through all your Buddhist practices and mastery of meditation you have not learned to stop criticizing and condemning. What works for one may or may not work for another but telling someone else they are praying wrong or meditating wrong because it’s not how you or someone else decide to do it is purely judgmental and not beneficial to those seeking help. Perhaps sitting in solitude is where you can provide the most help to others.

    • Let not your ignorance or 7 years study to master meditation be something to be proud of if all you were doing is to master sit but never feeling so short off of what is real trust that 7 years of what you call mastering meditation was a waste better is a person who meditates and gain something out of it is discover something than one who aims to study or master something

  • I think you must have no experience with recovery Buddhist meditation for one isn’t condescending. I’ve studies the sutras and the twelve steps, and am a yoga teacher. Hopefully in all your meditation practices you’ll be able to let go of that disgusting Ego you just displayed in your comment.
    Prayer is talking to God. Meditation is listening. In regards to addiction recovery meditation literally has the power to save people’s lives. I sincerely hope no one ever comes to you when they’re life is on the line for this so called “help” you speak of.

  • yes yes yes! I love this article! As a recovering RN, I struggled with AA in the beginning because I had a hard time letting my scientifically wired brain accept the idea of a God as a being. I’ve become fascinated with the recent studies about consciousness and science. You nailed it though. We are energy. The universe is energy. The universe and our earth possess consciousness as well. Learning more about our universe and what a spectacular place it is renewed my faith in something much greater than me. Thank you for sharing.

  • Who authored this? I can’t find the name and I want to quote parts of this article! Thanks!

      • Tim, A big THANK YOU! I am in recovery and this is one of my biggest struggles!
        I will be referring to this often.

  • Thanks for this. I do understand the connectedness, and can relate to no. 4 – except that I prefer to help animals. Wish I can find my Higher Power. Everything just feels empty. Think this takes time, and time off to discover that Higher Power would be great.

    • I feel the emptiness, and have hard time to find the higher power, it just hurts all the time. I will prey.

  • My girlfriend is throwin me out after 13 years says her higher power is guidin her 2 do it

  • Awesome post. I, like you, believe that the energy within us and the Universe is all connected. I learned that drinking and using took that connection away from me but while drinking and using I kept believing that I was more connected to the energy of the Universe through the “exploration of the mind” through mind altering substances. Since being sober, I have never felt more connected to a Higher Power and the energy the Universe gives me which allows me to let the river take me to where I need to be without me thinking about it, which is a dream come true.

  • Ross Bulman

    9 years ago

    Thank you so much for this amazing article. it is helping me to feel less lost and alone and provides hope that if I just let it go and trust my higher power things will be ok. Thanks so much. Regards Ross Bulman

  • You may have just changed my life. The idea of finding a higher power has caused massive conflict for me, and for years has prevented me from being open to NA. I’m a week into my recovery, I’ve have been going to meetings but have still been grappling with this idea. Halfway through your post I was brought to my knees in what feels like some kind of spiritual awakening. Something I’ve denied, rationalized against and neglected ever since I was a child. Thank you.

  • Sam Abraham

    9 years ago


    But I must say YOU ALL missed it expect George. George stated that “You are forming a relationship with the governing forces of the Universe.
    God is the Universe. You are forming a relationship with God. You are praying to God. I pray brothers and sisters that you will believe in that God.”

    You are referring to the God of the Universe, The good God, that forgave your wrong doings, but you missed the fact that you can not and will never experience this TRUE GOD without CHRIST.

    Yeshua [Jesus Christ] said to him, “I AM THE LIVING GOD, The Way and The Truth and The Life; no man comes to my Father but by me alone.” Aramaic Bible in Plain English.

    GOD’S WORD® Translation put it this way…
    Jesus answered him, “I am the way, the truth, and the life. No one goes to the Father except through me.

    What you are looking for is GOD of Heaven and the Earth, the one that created ALL things, and uphold ALL things by His POWER.

    Look for a Bible believing Church to get to know God. I will encourage anyone seeking to understand God or Christ or Holy Spirit to start with Alpha Course.

    I am not an Alpha Course staff, but they are very open-minded in their approach to introducing God to people. They are everywhere.

    God bless you.


    • Justin Peniche

      9 years ago

      With due respect to you…

      That is completely your opinion. I believe this post is directed toward people who have already rejected the idea of a Christian God or of any existing deity offered by organized religion.

      This is intended for those who have failed to find the connection with God because people are always preaching at them and telling them what I believe is right.

      In reality, there is no one right way for everyone. Each individual must find their own truth. If you have found your truth through Christianity then bully for you but not all lost souls march to the beat of the Christian drum.

  • i am suffering from anxiety and i drink to forget i worked on the railroad for 40
    years i have severe joint and back issues but i still like to do things but i cant
    if i drink a little i will do some work i am 60 years old and i like to work but now
    i cant do much i would like to find my higher power so i can get back on track
    how can i find that higher power

    • Justin Peniche

      9 years ago

      I think the key is to keep searching. I have not found the connection to my higher power yet either but in my continuous search I feel closer and closer each step. I recommend going to AA meetings and listening to others and first find a connection with similar people who have had similar life experiences and see where that might lead you.

  • Dan Wayland

    8 years ago

    Your writing here is excellent and makes a ton of sense to me. I think you are helping a lot of scientific minds who want to find a way to noodle through a higher power.

  • I needed this today!
    I am running on self will and it is making life stressful and miserable
    I cannot control others – I can only control myself

  • Alea Dean

    8 years ago

    Finally a higher power I can finally wrap my head around!! You wrote it out so well. Finally in a way I can comphrend and actually agree to. I have the same beliefs in energy and the fact thati don’t believe in a god existance actually controls the unvierse. Even though I believe in energy I wasn’t sure how I could use it to help me in NA/AA. Now I get it! Thanks so much for saving my recovery! 🙂 lol

    I feel relief!!


    • Alea Dean

      8 years ago

      I didn’t proof read. Some of what I wrote doesn’t make sense. Oops!

  • I found this article incredible inspiring because I have been finding the whole higher power is very difficult, thank you so much.

  • this spoke to me perfectly. thank you for speaking to those who do not believe in the traditional avenues of faith.

    and to those who can only preach and sit in judgement, we have been taught in the rooms, to forgive. some are sicker than others.

  • Tim,

    Will you believe if I told you that I feel you read through my mind? I feel so connected with what you have written that it feels someone is validating what I have personally experienced to the extent that while ruminating I actually tried to convince myself with the exact analogy of a flowing river and its currents.

    Suddenly, I am feeling the tide has turned. Thank you!

    Given this was written in 2014 and I found this towards the end of 2016, doesn’t it – sort of – backs the theory of “when the time is right…”, Destiny?

    With gratitude.

    • Tim Stoddart

      8 years ago

      Makes sense to me. I am glad that we could be connected.

  • Emmaunel,i really love the part that you said prayer and to connect wit the universe which is the creator of the universe God Himself is the I Am that I minds are open now.thank you…blessed

  • Samantha Blumberg

    7 years ago

    what a wonderful, inspiring, almost comforting article. thank you so much. i needed to read that and related to so much. it has helped me no end today.

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