The Set Aside Prayer:
"Dear God please help me to set aside everything I think I know about [people. place or thing] so I may have an open mind and a new experience. Please help me to see the truth about [people. place or thing]. AMEN." (This prayer comes from the Chapter to the Agnostic from the Big Book of Alcoholics Anonymous.)
If we are painstaking about this phase of our development, we will be amazed before we are half way through . . .
- We are going to know a new freedom and a new happiness.
- We will not regret the past nor wish to shut the door on it.
- We will comprehend the word serenity.
- We will know peace.
- No matter how far down the scale we have gone, we will see how our experience can benefit others.
- That feeling of uselessness and self-pity will disappear.
- We will lose interest in selfish things and gain interest in our fellows.
- Self-seeking will slip away.
- Our whole attitude and outlook upon life will change.
- Fear of people and of economic insecurity will leave us.
- We will intuitively know how to handle situations which used to baffle us.
- We will suddenly realize that God is doing for us what we could not do for ourselves.
Are these extravagant promises? We think not. They are being fulfilled among us - sometimes quickly, sometimes slowly. They will always materialize if we work for them.
The Twelve Steps
Step One - We admitted we were powerless over people, situations and things --that our lives had become unmanageable.
Step Two - Came to believe that a Power greater than ourselves could restore us to sanity.
Step Three - Made a decision to turn our will and our lives over to the care of God as we understood Him.
Step Four - Made a searching and fearless moral inventory of ourselves.
Step Five - Admitted to God, to ourselves, and to another human being the exact nature of our wrongs.
Step Six - Were entirely ready to have God remove all these defects of character.
Step Seven - Humbly asked Him to remove our shortcomings.
Step Eight - Made a list of all persons we had harmed, and became willing to make amends to them all.
Step Nine - Made direct amends to such people wherever possible, except when to do so would injure them or others.
Step Ten - Continued to take personal inventory and when we were wrong promptly admitted it.
Step Eleven - Sought through prayer and meditation to improve our conscious contact with God as we understood Him, praying only for knowledge of His will for us and the power to carry that out.
Step Twelve - Having had a spiritual awakening as the result of these steps, we tried to carry this message to alcoholics, and to practice these principles in all our affairs.
The Twelve Traditions
One -- Our common welfare should come first; personal recovery depends upon A.A. unity. Each member of Alcoholics Anonymous is but a small part of a great whole. A.A. must continue to live or most of us will surely die. Hence our common welfare comes first. But individual welfare follows close afterward.
Two -- For our group purpose there is but one ultimate authority - a loving God as He may express Himself in our group conscience. Our leaders are but trusted servants; they do not govern. For our group purpose, there is but one ultimate authority - a loving God as He may express Himself in our group conscience.
Three -- The only requirement for A.A. membership is a desire to stop drinking. Our membership ought to include all who suffer from alcoholism. Hence we may refuse none who wish to recover. Nor ought A.A. membership ever depend upon money or conformity. Any two or three alcoholics gathered together for sobriety may call themselves an A.A. group, provided that, as a group, they have no other affiliation.
Four -- Each group should be autonomous except in matters affecting other groups or A.A. as a whole. With respect to its own affairs, each A.A. group should be responsible to no other authority than its own conscience. But when its plans concern the welfare of neighboring groups also, those groups ought to be consulted. And no group, regional committee, or individual should ever take action that might greatly affect A.A. as a whole without conferring with the trustees of the General Service Board. On such issues our common welfare is paramount.
Five -- Each group has but one primary purpose - to carry its message to the alcoholic who still suffers. Each Alcoholics Anonymous group ought to be a spiritual entity having but one primary purpose - that of carrying its message to the alcoholic who still suffers.
Six -- An A.A. group ought never endorse, finance, or lend the A.A. name to any related facility or outside enterprise, lest problems of money, property, and prestige divert us from our primary purpose. Problems of money, property and authority may easily divert us from our primary spiritual aim. We think, therefore, that any considerable property of genuine use to A.A. should be separately incorporated and managed, thus dividing the material from the spiritual. An A.A. group, as such, should never go into business. Secondary aids to A.A., such as clubs or hospitals which require much property or administration, ought to be incorporated and so set apart that, if necessary, they can be freely discarded by the groups. Hence such facilities ought not to use the A.A. name. Their management should be the sole responsibility of those people who financially support them. For clubs, A.A. managers are usually preferred. But hospitals, as well as other places of recuperation, ought to be well outside A.A. - and medically supervised. While an A.A. group may cooperate with anyone, such cooperation ought never to go so far as affiliation or endorsement, actual or implied. An A.A. group can bind itself to no one.
Seven -- Every A.A. group ought to be fully self-supporting, declining outside contributions. The A.A. groups themselves ought to be fully supported by the voluntary contributions of their own members. We think that each group should soon achieve this ideal; that any public solicitation of funds using the name of Alcoholics Anonymous is highly dangerous, whether by groups, clubs, hospitals or other outside agencies; that acceptance of large gifts from any source, or of contributions carrying any obligation whatever, is unwise. Then too, we view with much concern those A.A. treasuries which continue, beyond prudent reserves, to accumulate funds for no stated A.A. purpose. Experience has often warned us that nothing can so surely destroy our spiritual heritage as futile disputes over property, money and authority.
Eight -- Alcoholics Anonymous should remain forever non-professional, but our service centers may employ special workers. Alcoholics Anonymous should remain forever non-professional. We define professionalism as the occupation of counseling alcoholics for fees or hire. But we may employ alcoholics where they are going to perform those services for which we might otherwise have to engage non-alcoholics. Such special services may be well recompensed. But our usual A.A. "12th Step" work is never to be paid for.
Nine -- A.A., as such, ought never be organized; but we may create service boards or committees directly responsible to those they serve. Each A.A. group needs the least possible organization. Rotating leadership is the best. The small group may elect its secretary, the large group its rotating committee, and the groups of a large metropolitan area their central or inter group committee, which often employs a full-time secretary. The trustees of the General Service Board are, in effect, our A.A. General Services Committee. They are the custodians of our A.A. Tradition and the receivers of voluntary A.A. contributions by which we maintain our A.A. General Services Office at New York. They are authorized by the groups to handle our over-all public relations and they guarantee the integrity of our principal newspaper, the A.A. Grapevine. All such representatives are to be guided in the spirit of service, for true leaders in A.A. are but trusted and experienced servants of the whole. They derive no real authority from their titles; they do not govern. Universal respect is the key to their usefulness.
Ten -- Alcoholics Anonymous has no opinion on outside issues; hence the A.A. name ought never be drawn into public controversy. No A.A. group or member should ever, in such way as to implicate A.A., express any opinion on outside issues - particularly those of politics, alcohol reform or sectarian religion. The Alcoholics Anonymous groups oppose no one. Concerning such matters they can express no views whatever.
Eleven -- Our public relations policy is based on attraction rather than promotion; we need always maintain personal anonymity at the level of press, radio and films. Our relations with the general public should be characterized by personal anonymity. We think A.A. ought to avoid sensational advertising. Our names and pictures as A.A. members ought not be broadcast, filmed or publicly printed. Our public relations should be guided by the principle of attraction rather than promotion. There is never need to praise ourselves. We feel it better to let our friends recommend us.
Twelve -- Anonymity is the spiritual foundation of all our traditions, ever reminding us to place principles above personalities. And finally, we of Alcoholics Anonymous believe that the principle of anonymity has an immense spiritual significance. It reminds us that we are to place principles before personalities; that we are actually to practice a genuine humility. This to the end that our great blessings may never spoil us; that we shall forever live in thankful contemplation of Him who presides over us all.
The Set Aside Prayer:
"Dear God please help me to set aside everything I think I know about [people. place or thing] so I may have an open mind and a new experience. Please help me to see the truth about [people. place or thing]. AMEN."
(This prayer comes from the Chapter to the Agnostic from the Big Book of Alcoholics Anonymous.)
1st Step Prayer
Dear Lord, Help me to see and admit that I am powerless over my alcoholism. Help me to understand how my alcoholism has led to unmanageability in my life. Help me this day to understand the true meaning of powerlessness. Remove from me all denial of my alcoholism.
(This prayer is developed from the chapter, More About Alcoholism)
2nd Step Prayer
Heavenly Father, I am having trouble with personal relationships. I can't control my emotional nature. I am prey to misery and depression. I can't make a living. I feel useless. I am full of fear. I am unhappy. I can't seem to be of real help to others. I know in my heart that only you can restore me to sanity if I am just willing to stop doubting your power. I humbly ask that you help me to understand that it is more powerful to believe than not to believe and that you are either everything or nothing.
3rd Step Prayer:
"God, I offer myself to thee - to build with me and do with me as Thou wilt. Relieve me of the bondage of self, that I may better do Thy will. Take away my difficulties, that victory over them may bear witness to those I would help of Thy Power, Thy Love and Thy Way of life. May I do Thy will always!"
(see also the webpage with other Third Step Prayers
A Pre-Inventory prayer:
"God, please help me to honestly take stock. Help me to search out the flaws in my make-up which caused my failure. Help me to see where resentment has plagued me and resulted in spiritual malady, but more importantly help me to understand my part in these resentments. Help me to resolutely look for my own mistakes and to understand where I had been selfish, dishonest, self-seeking and frightened. Please help me to be searching and fearless in my endeavor to write my inventory."
A 4th Step Resentment Prayer:
"God, Please help me to be free of anger and to see that the world and its people have dominated me. Show me that the wrong-doing of others, fancied or real, has the power to actually kill me. Help me to master my resentments by understanding that the people who wrong me were perhaps spiritually sick. Please help me show those I resent the same Tolerance, Pity and Patience that I would cheerfully grant a sick friend.** Help me to see that this is a sick man. Father, please show me how I can be helpful to him and save me from being angry. Lord, help me to avoid retaliation or argument. I know I can't be helpful to all people, but at least show me how to take a kindly and tolerant view of each and every one. Thy will be done."
**Dear God, I have a resentment towards a person that I want to be free of. So, I am asking you to give this person everything I want for myself. Help me to feel compassionate understanding and love for this person. I pray that they will receive everything they need. Thank you God for your help and strength with this resentment.
These instructions are for the above prayer (Big Book, Freedom from Bondage, p. 552):
'If you have a resentment you want to be free of, if you will pray for the person or the thing that you resent, you will be free. If you will ask in prayer for everything you want for yourself to be given to them, you will be free...Even when you don't really want it for them, and your prayers are only words and you don't mean it, go ahead and do it anyway. Do it every day for two weeks and you will find you have come to mean it and to want it for them, and you will realize that where you used to feel bitterness and resentment and hatred, you now feel compassionate understanding and love.'
You can, also, include the Freedom from Bondage Prayer in the 4th Step Resentment Prayer.
An Example of Fear Prayer:
"God, thank you for helping me be honest enough to see this truth about myself and now that you have shown me the truth about my fears, please remove these fears from me. Lord, please help me outgrow my fears and direct my attention to what you would have me be. Father, demonstrate through me and help me become that which you would have me be. Help me do thy will always, Amen."
An Example of Pre-Sex Inventory Prayer:
"God, please help me to be free of fear as I attempt to shine the spotlight of truth across my past sex relations. Lord, please show me where my behavior has harmed others and help me to see the truth these relationships hold for me. Help me see where I have been at fault and what I should have done differently."
"God, help me review my own conduct over the years past. Show me where I have been selfish, dishonest, or inconsiderate. Show me whom I have hurt and where I have unjustifiably aroused jealousy, suspicion or bitterness. Help me to see where I was at fault and what I should have done instead. Help me to be fearless and searching in my endeavor to write my sexual inventory."
A Sex Prayer:
"Father, please help me mold my sex ideals and help me to live up to them. Help me be willing to grow toward my ideals and help me be willing to make amends where I have done harm. Lord, please show me what to do in each specific matter, and be the final judge in each situation. Help me avoid hysterical thinking or advice."
"Father, please Grace me with guidance in each questionable situation, sanity, and strength to do the right thing. If sex becomes very troublesome, quiet my imperious urge, help me not to yield and keep me from heartache as I throw myself the harder into helping others. Help me think of their needs and help me work for them. Amen."
A Pre-5th Step Prayer:
God, please help me to complete my housecleaning by admitting to another human being the exact nature of my wrongs. Please remove any fears I have about this step and show me how completion of it will remove my egotism and fear. Help me to see how this step builds my character through humility, fearlessness and honesty. Direct me to the right person who will keep my confidence and fully understand and approve what I am driving at. Then help me to pocket my pride and go to it, illuminating every twist of character, every dark cranny of the past so I may complete this step and begin to feel near to you."
5th Step Prayer
Higher Power, Thank you for helping me complete my housecleaning. I can now look the world in the eye. I can be alone at perfect peace and ease. My fears have fallen from me. I have begun to feel your nearness. I have begun to have a spiritual experience. I feel I am on the Broad Highway, walking hand in hand with the Spirit of the Universe.
A Quiet Hour Prayer:
"God, Thank You for giving me the strength, faith and courage I needed to get through my 5th Step. I thank you from the bottom of my heart for helping me to know you better, by showing me what has been blocking me from you. Father, please show me if I have omitted anything and help me to honestly see if my stones are properly in place or if I have skimped in any area of this work."
A 6th Step prayer:
"God, Thank you for removing my fear and for showing me the truth about myself. Father, I need your help to become willing to let go of the things in me which continue to block me off from you. Please grant me your Grace Lord and make me willing to have these objectionable characteristics, defects and shortcomings removed."
6th Step Prayer
Dear God, I am ready for Your help in removing from me the defects of character which I now realize are an obstacle to my recovery. Help me to continue being honest with myself & guide me toward spiritual & mental health.
7th Step Prayer
"My Creator, I am now willing that you should have all of me, good & bad. I pray that you now remove from me every single defect of character which stands in the way of my usefulness to you & my fellows. Grant me strength, as I go out from here to do Your bidding."
A Pre - 8th Step Prayer:
"God, Please remove my Fears and show me your truth. Show me all the harms I have caused with my behavior and help me be willing to make amends to one and all. Help me to be willing to go to any lengths for victory over alcohol."
A 9th Step Prayer:
"God, with regard to this amend, give me the strength, courage and direction to do the right thing, no matter what the personal consequences may be. Help me not to shrink from anything. Help me not to delay if it can be avoided. Help me to be sensible, tactful, considerate and humble without being servile or scraping."
A 9th Step prayer for the Spouse:
"God, please show me how to make amends to my Spouse. Father , Help me to keep my Spouse's happiness Uppermost in my mind as I try, with your Grace, to make this relationship right. Amen"
A 9th Step Prayer for the Family:
"God, please show me how to find the way of Patience, Tolerance, Kindness and Love in my heart, my Mind and my Soul. Lord, show me how to demonstrate these principles to my family and all those about me. Amen."
A 10th Step prayer for Growth and Effectiveness:
"God, please help me Watch for Selfishness, Dishonesty, Resentment and Fear. When these crop up in me, help me to immediately ask you to remove them from me and help me discuss these feelings with someone. Father, help me to quickly make amends if I have harmed anyone and help me to resolutely turn my thoughts to someone I can Help. Help me to be Loving and Tolerant of everyone today. Amen"
10th Step Prayer
My Higher Power, My daily prayer is to best serve you, I pray I may continue to grow in understanding & effectiveness; Help me to watch for selfishness, dishonesty, resentment and fear; Help me to be willing to have You remove them at once; I must be willing to discuss them with someone immediately; I will make amends quickly if I have harmed anyone; And then I will turn my thoughts toward helping someone else; Please help me to remember to practice love and tolerance of others.
10th Step Amends Prayer
"God, please forgive me for my failings today. I know that because of my failings, I was not able to be as effective as I could have been for you. Please forgive me and help me live thy will better today. I ask you now to show me how to correct the errors I have just outlined. Guide me and direct me. Please remove my arrogance and my fear. Show me how to make my relationships right and grant me the humility and strength to do thy will."
The 11th Step Prayers:
A Prayer On Awakening:
"God please direct my thinking and keep my thoughts divorced from self- pity, dishonest or self-seeking motives. Please keep my thought life clear from wrong motives and help me employ my mental faculties, that my thought-life might be placed on a higher plane, the plane of inspiration."
A Morning Prayer:
"God, should I find myself agitated, doubtful or indecisive today, please give me inspiration, help me to have an intuitive thought or a decision about this problem I face. Help me not to struggle, instead, help me to relax and take it easy. Help me know what I should do and keep me mindful, that you are running the show. Free me from my bondage of self. Thy will be done always."
A Morning Prayer:
"God, please show me all through this day, what my next step is to be and please grace me with whatever I need to take care of the problems in my life today. I ask especially that you free me from the bondage of self-will."
An 11th Step Nightly Review Prayer:
"God, help me to constructively review my day. Where was I resentful, selfish, dishonest or afraid? Do I owe an apology? Have I kept something to myself which should be discussed with another person at once? Was I kind and loving toward all? What could I have done better? Was I thinking of myself most of the time? Or was I thinking of what I could do for others, of what I could pack into the stream of life? Please forgive me for my harms and wrongs today and let me know corrective measures I should be take."
12th Step Prayer
Dear God, Having had a spiritual experience, I must now remember that "faith without works is dead." And PRACTICAL EXPERIENCE shows that nothing will so much insure immunity from drinking as intensive work with other alcoholics. So, God, please help me to carry this message to other alcoholics! Provide me with the guidance and wisdom to talk with another alcoholic because I can help when no one else can. Help me secure his confidence and remember he is ill.
Admitting powerlessness is absolutely essential to breaking the addiction cycle, which is made up of five points:
- Pain ↓
- Reaching out to an addictive agent, such as work, food, sex, alcohol, or dependent relationships to salve our pain ↓
- Temporary anesthesia ↓
- Negative consequences ↓
- Shame and guilt, which result in more pain or low self-esteem ↑
For example, the workaholic who has low self-esteem (pain) begins to overwork (addictive agent), which results in praise, success, and achievement (relief). However, as a rule, family relationships and his personal relationship with God suffer terribly because of preoccupation with work (negative consequences). The result is an even greater sense of shame and guilt because of inadequacies, both real and imagined, which brings him back to point 1 in the addiction cycle. Now the workaholic feels compelled to work even harder to overcome his guilt.
Understanding the addiction cycle is important because it helps explain why for both the Oxford Group and for Bill Wilson, the admission of powerlessness is the first step to recovery. Otherwise, we remain caught. If we rely on willpower alone, then the only thing we know to do is to escalate our addiction to get out of the pain. Step 1 calls us to do less - to yield, to surrender, to let go.
—Serenity, A Companion for Twelve Step Recovery, p. 22-23