Thursday, November 13, 2014

The (Beautiful) 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." - Alcoholics Anonymous, p. 63

     Who can deny the perfection of this prayer? Surely it is as beautiful as it is powerful.

     "God, I offer myself to Thee..."  - When I truly understood this, I knew I'd be recovering from alcoholism and drug addiction. The Big Book initially seeks to educate us on the physical/mental components of addiction as well as the underlying spiritual malady, and if we are listening, we come to realize that we cannot restore ourselves to sanity.

     When I realized that I was powerless, it hit me like a ton of bricks and I simultaneously understood humility for the first time. I knew that while I could do all sorts of others things, the one thing I couldn't do is control my drinking and drug use. Drugs and alcohol had me by the balls.

     I also saw this solution working in others. I saw people writing their inventory, going into a chapel to read it, and then emerging hours later, glowing with Spirit. Obsession lifted. And that is when I realized I no longer have to rely on my fucked up head to guide me through life. There ARE other powers at work, and this power, the power of God, could indeed do for me what I could not do for myself.

    "...to build with me and do with me as Thou wilt." - When we give ourselves to God, we are essentially giving ourselves to the cultivation of, and the obedience to our conscience. We are making a commitment to go to any lengths necessary to grow spiritually, which means that we never ignore something we must do in order to grow spiritually or to help our brothers and sisters who are still suffering.

     This remains difficult for some to understand. What do you mean by God's will? What we mean is, sure we continue doing what we would normally do, but when we are confused, anxious and filled with RID (Restlessness, Irritability, Discontent), instead of plowing through impulsively, we step back, get quiet, pray to let go, pray for God's will to be done, and then we get up and continue moving. Do me a favor and just see what happens if you pray earnestly and unselfishly before doing something.

     "Relieve me of the bondage of self, that I may better do Thy will." - How beautifully this summarizes the very crux of our problem, as well as the solution. When I understood that my previous life was guided by an impulsive and narrow frame of mind based on fear, pride, arrogance, insecurity and self-will, it was then I also realized that getting better involved the removal of this frame of mind. It is when we finally get over ourselves and underneath something else.

     The view from inside an addict is very narrow and narcissistic. At least for me, I believed only in myself, positive that I knew everything, and confident that I was the only true power in my life. I worshipped only myself, my talent and my intellect... and my body, of course.

     Let me tell you, when this frame of mind cracks open and blows up, it is perhaps one of the single greatest events in your life. Everything changes once we wake up. It is like stepping out of the darkness and into the light for the first time.

     "Take away my difficulties..." - No one can deny that we do indeed have difficulties and character defects. Drugs and alcohol are one thing, but from our addiction springs forth all sorts of maladaptive behaviors, beliefs, attitudes and approaches to others and to the world. Humbly asking the unlimited and mind-bending power of the Holy Spirit to remove some of these difficulties is essential to getting better.

     "...that victory over them may bear witness to those I would help of Thy Power, Thy Love and Thy Way of life." - Getting better is not selfish. Getting better allows us to give back, be useful, help others and serve God. One of the brilliant things about this prayer is to delineate helping others based on "Thy Power, Thy Love, and Thy Way of life."

     For me, helping based on Thy power is when we specifically bring others the solution and try to hook them up to God, so to speak. I, for one, absolutely must engage in one on one intensive work with other addicts so they may acquire and use these tools to experience spiritual power for themselves. This is true sponsorship. We help others to activate the power lines, if you will, between them and God, and then we get out of the way.

     Helping others based on Thy love is the effect we have on others simply by being loving, better people. When we change ourselves, the effect of that alone is helpful. We help others just by being kind and loving, tolerant and patient. We help by being present with others and truly listening to them.

    And finally, helping others based on Thy way of life is projecting a good example to others through our change in lifestyle. By taking care of ourselves etc., we serve as an example. As well, we continue to learn and grow, and thus can educate others on beneficial changes to their lifestyle. Exercise, diet, creativity, service work and meditation practices are just some of the things we can teach others to help them improve their life experience and help them get closer to God and His way of life.

     Good prayer, huh?

     If you're an addict or an alcoholic out there, you really have to ask yourself, why not? Why not try this? What have you got to lose? Why not try giving yourself and your will over to God? Why not try helping others? The truth is that there is no reason, especially because it works. So please, dig deep and ask yourself if what you are doing now really works? Are you really getting better? Are you really free inside?

     Are you really okay?

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