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Pulled From the Pit by Prayer

Father and son James and Geoff Banks share their story of a father’s prayers working to rescue a son from drug addiction. Read Transcript

Well, welcome back.

I'm joined by Geoff Banks.

You just saw his story.

And also his father, James Banks.

He is the pastor of Peace Church in Durham, North Carolina,

and author of "Prayers for Prodigals"

and it's good to have you.

Yeah, thanks for having us.

Yeah, it's great to be here.

James, let's start with you.

You've put out this wonderful book, "Prayers for Prodigals,"

and it's your own journey.

How long was your journey?

You know, Geoff was addicted for seven years,

in one form or another.

And so we went through, we did everything that we could,

and you get to the point where what else can you do but pray?

When did you first know he was addicted?

I think that really struck home in high school,

a little later on in high school when things got real rough.

And he'd gone through one school and got kicked out,

and then through another, and eventually we

had to homeschool him.

And that was the only way he was going to get through.

And at that point, we knew we had a problem.

What did you do at that point?

How did you reach out?

Did you try to get educated on addiction?

Did you--

Well, we did.

We had gone through the Duke Intensive Outpatient Rehab,

actually, a couple of times there in Durham, where we were.

And tried to get educated, tried to learn all we could.

But at the same time, there were times where I think I was--

I didn't do this kind of stuff when I was a kid.

And so I responded in anger.

I responded legalistically, and that wasn't the best example.

I didn't raise you to do this!



And I imagine you had self-doubt along the way.

Oh, yeah.

Did I do something?


You look at yourself, and you think, where did I go wrong?

What did I do?

And I remember talking with Geoff about that one time,

and he said, Dad, it wasn't what you did.

I made my own choices, basically.

But still, it's a burden to carry.

And the beautiful thing is that that's where God meets us.

And that's certainly what he did for us.

Tell us about the journey of prayer.

I'd imagine in the first years of this seven-year journey,

it was let's claim the promise of God.

Let's hold on to the promise.

Let's declare victory.


And then it went to, that's not happening.

You're so right!

I mean, there's this back and forth.

You think that, OK, it's going to happen,

and you learn not to depend on your feelings.

My wife and I used to have this saying that was today

was a good day, when we went through a day

and there wasn't any drama with Geoff.

The phone doesn't ring in the middle of the night,

that kind of thing.


I think that's a story a lot of people don't know.

When you're living with addiction,

there's always drama.

Well, there is.

And here at this point, he's living in another city,

and there's only so much that we can do.

But we know we have to stay in his life,

because if we don't, then who's there?

And so we've got to keep the communication open with him.

I think that's a lesson a lot of people don't know.

When they talk about tough love, they

talk about let's force a bottom and not

realizing, with addiction, bottom could be death.

Well, that love has got to be tough on us as well.

It's got to be that kind of thing that says,

I'm going to love him no matter what.

Sometimes we talk about tough love,

and it's like, well, go away, kid.

You're bothering me.

That's kind of the humor--

And that's not love.

That's not love.



Well, at what point did you know you had victory?

Well, we really knew we had victory

after Geoff had gone through a Christian recovery house,

and there was one particular day.

It was interesting.

We went to get Geoff a pair of shoes.

He was back visiting us at Durham,

and he says, here's something I really want you to listen to.

And he plugs his phone into the radio in the car.

I'm thinking, great.

Here's another song I'm going to have to theologically critique.

And it turns out to be this sermon from a former heroin

addict about the difference Jesus

had made in setting him free.

And my wife and I are both sitting--

Geoff's in the backseat-- my wife

and I are both sitting in the front seat.

We're doing our best to just fight back the tears.

And that day, I realized, wow.

This was something only God could do.

And I think so often we had tried

to do it in our own strength, and we

needed to come to that place of just being desperate.

And in his mercy, he met us and gave us what we needed.

And that's the key.

That's the key to recovery.

That's surrender.

I can't do this.

It's not about willpower.

It's all about him.

We've been doing a lot of talking about you.

Let's talk to you.


And I think prodigals don't understand

what they do to the family.


When did it dawn on you what was going on?

Not until much later.

I didn't realize the effect that my actions in my life

had made until I had cleaned up, because whenever you're in it,

you're so focused on just surviving and getting

your next fix and getting to the next day,

that you're not thinking about anybody else.

And I never meant to hurt--

I never--

I always looked at my parents' position

as a position of ignorance, like, they don't really

know how it is.

They don't really know what's going on.

They just think it's that bad.

They just think it's this crazy lifestyle,

and I have it all together, and they don't realize.

And so I always looked at them as kind of this ignorant party

and the whole thing.

But now, looking back, I'm like, man, I was lost.

And it wasn't until cleaning up that I can look back and see

how it affected them.

And I still do that, where I still,

five years later, almost five years later, I

see places where my actions had an effect on people

that sometimes I didn't even realize it.

When you were using, were you living the dream, or the lie,

that this wasn't really you?

That you could stop?

I always-- yeah, definitely.

I thought that my recurring thing, even when I was older--

meaning 20, 21-- I always thought

that I would grow out of it one day,

and that one day I just wouldn't want to use anymore.

That it just wouldn't be an interest anymore,

and that I could just kind of have a good time now.

And later on, I'll just kind of float on out.

Leave it all behind.

OK, and that obviously never happened.

It wasn't.

I did eventually make it out, but it was never this kind of,

well, you know, guess I'll go home now!

It always gets worse.

Yeah, exactly.

It always gets worse.

At what point did you figure out that you were actually

lying to yourself?

That's a good question.

I think whenever I really realized

the depth of my addiction was--

I had gotten in this--

I had taken my girlfriend at the time, I'd taken her car

and taken some money from her, and I'd

gone to get my fix in the morning.

And I used in the car and took off, needle still in my arm,

and I passed out at the wheel.

And I hit a power pole, and I remember waking up

in the hospital not knowing what happened.

And having this feeling of doom, like oh my gosh,

what have I done?

And I remember that kind of being the moment where

I realized the gravity of my situation and the effect

that it's had on not only myself, but other people.

You know.

What's your dream now?

Man, I don't know.

I love what I do now, being able to--

I've always thought that I would be in ministry whenever

it comes to addiction and things like that,

but I've ended up in student ministry

with high-schoolers at Port City Church in Wilmington.

And it's been so awesome to realize that now, for the most

part, it's getting to them before they go down that path.

For most of them.

And being able to love them there,

and it's kind of this proactive thing instead of reactive.

And that's really where God has me now,

and I think it's somewhere where I'm going to be for a while,

is with students.

And that would be a good thing.


Yeah, I love it.

Yeah, that would be a good thing.


Mold them, shape them.



People often look at the youth pastor thing and say,

someday you'll be a real pastor.

But it's like, man, that's where--

You're a real pastor now.

Yeah, it's like, that's where the battle's at.

And the battle is right at that age,

right when they're getting ready to leave home,

and they think suddenly, well, I'm going to be free

or I'm going to be whatever.

That's the time to really cement in, no, you

need God in your life.

Yeah, so that's been an honor to be able to do that,

and it's--

I never know what God has for me next.

So it's kind of just walking out the next steps.


But making disciples, that's a good thing.

All right.

Well, the book is called "Prayers for Prodigals."

And if you have a prodigal that you're praying for,

all you have to do is get a copy of this book.

It's called "Prayers for Prodigals."

It's available wherever books are sold, or on Amazon.

And if you want to hear more from Geoff and James,

check out our Facebook and Instagram page

for our web-exclusive interview.

Thanks for being with us.

Thank you.


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