Early in my recovery, a sponsor gave me a little book titled: “Our Devilish Alcoholic Personalities.” It was abbreviated as: O.D.A.P., and in this book, ODAP was the name of the devil personally assigned by Satan to tempt us alcoholics & addicts into taking that next drink or drug. Over the years, I think a lot of us have received more than a few sales calls from ODAP. Some of us probably helped that little demon make “salesman of the month” on more than one occasion!

ODAP, the book pointed out, is a clever little devil. He knows just when and where to tell us the lies we are literally dying to hear. Maybe you’ve already heard him whispering to you. His voice probably sounds something like this: “One drink’s not gonna hurt you.” -or- “You don’t need to go to all those stupid meetings any more – Remember: Easy Does It, my man!” Or how about: “It’s OK to take a few drinks – After all, you’re not really an alkie; you’re just a cute little dope-fiend!”

If you’re new to recovery and you haven’t heard ODAP talking to you yet, then be patient, he’ll be showing up soon enough - and that’s a promise! But be prepared for something very strange to happen when he starts running his sweet-sounding lies through your mind. Know that the insane thoughts he’ll whisper are going to sound perfectly true when they’re coming from him.

I mention ODAP because his was a voice I knew for sure was living in that strange land between my ears; but I soon discovered that his wasn’t the only devil- voice that had taken up residence in me. There were others. In fact, over the years I’ve come to identify with that poor fella from one of the carpenter’s stories who said he heard them in his head too and reported, “their names are Legion!”

One voice comes to me in the form of what a psychologist would label “The Critic.” He tells me, over and over, that I’m no damned good. That nothing I do is right and, in the end, I’ll be found out for the fraud and failure I really am. I’ve named this little liar TORQUEMADA. I borrowed his name from a favorite Mel Brooks movie, naming him after the Grand Inquisitor of the dreaded Spanish Inquisition. This guy can hold a mock trial in my mind and sentence me to death, all in the name of God!

Still another voice I hear from time to time, I’ve come to call ATLAS. This one tells me I don’t need any help. No help from you! No help from AA! No help from God! He tempts me to carry the weight of the world on my shoulders, and to carry it alone. He very much likes being ALONE! When any one of these voices shows up in my head, it always sounds so very familiar. Some of these voices, I later discovered, have been talking to me since childhood.

Then about 20 years ago, I started studying the history of AA and I learned how the 12 Step Program was deeply rooted in the practices and principles of the Oxford Group. Bill Wilson said he borrowed the great majority of his 12 Steps directly from Sam Shoemaker, an Episcopal priest and Oxford group leader who taught Bill how to surrender, how to take inventory, how to make amends and even, how to pray. But as I studied more about these pioneer days of AA, I learned how very different their form of prayer was from anything I had been taught since coming “into the rooms.”

At the heart of their program, it appears, was a form of Two Way Prayer that encouraged listening for a different voice that resides deep inside every human mind. They said you’d know the voice was coming from God if it measured up to the four-standard test of honesty, purity, unselfishness, and love. If the words coming through the voice failed to pass that test it might just be the voice of ODAP playing his mind games yet again.

Now I’ll be the first to admit, I was skeptical as hell when I first heard about this strange form of prayer. “God doesn’t talk to people,” I heard a familiar voice assuring me. But as I studied more and more about the practices of AA’s pioneers, it became obvious that these people had found something very precious and highly personal residing in the depths of their very own minds. They found a voice filled with Love and wanting to teach them how to Love. It sounded different from any of the other voices they’d been so used to hearing.

So they got up a little earlier each day and held a Quiet Time with God. They read spiritual literature, and asked God for help with the problems of that day. They thanked him for the blessings they’d received and then, with paper and pen in hand so they wouldn’t miss a single word he had to say, they prayed this nearly lost form of Two Way Prayer. Often times they were amazed by what they heard just as I’m amazed every time I hear a newcomer discover the Great Reality speaking so lovingly to them from the very last place ODAP would ever have them look. As the Big Book reports, “We found the Great Reality deep down within us. In the last analysis it is only there that He may be found. It was so with us." I hope it may be so for you as well!

About the Author

Father Bill W. has served in the addiction treatment field for over 40 years. He is Chair of Recovery Ministries for the Episcopal Diocese of Texas, a Fellow at the Hope and Healing Institute in Houston, and Chaplain at The Last Resort Recovery Center outside of Austin.


Father Bill presents retreats and workshops throughout the United States on 12-Step spirituality. He received the Wheelock Whitney Award from the Johnson Institute, given to “the man or woman who has advanced the understanding of faith and science in addiction prevention and recovery.” Watch his new video at www.TwoWayPrayer.org/ and send comments to This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it


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Last Updated ( Friday, 16 May 2014 13:27 )