Intentions, Inspirations & Aspirations

Useful or favorite prayers and passages

In addition to helpful AA readings and prayers you may encounter in AA meetings and brought up by sponsors, I have also included some of my favorite AA literature readings, non-AA prayers, as well as my own versions of some prayers and readings that I have secularized, made gender-neutral or otherwise slightly modified while maintaining the spirit and meaning. I have not done this in any way to say that these passages are in any way deficient, nor are these to be construed as proposals to replace these passages. I created these versions in order to help newcomers who get caught up in archaic, religious-y, or unnecessarily gender-specific language, who may miss the greater message of these great passages. I think these passages are lifesaving and incredible, however, like an English teacher, helping students understand Shakespeare, I’m trying to help clear away some of the semantic fog that may prevent newcomers from understanding the importance of these passages. My goal is to help newcomers fall in love with these passages as I have, and to get past these barriers of entry to reach a point where they can embrace these passages fully. 

Major Readings & Prayers

Serenity Prayer

Short Form Prayer

God, grant me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change, the courage to change the things that I can, and the wisdom to know the difference.

Twelve Steps & Twelve Traditions, step 3 p. 41

Long Form Prayer

God grant me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change, the courage to change the things I can, and the wisdom to know the difference. 

Living one day at a time, enjoying one moment at a time, accepting hardships as the pathway to peace. Taking, as He did, this sinful world as it is, not as I would have it.

Trusting that He will make things right if I surrender to His Will so that I may be reasonably happy in this life, and supremely happy with Him, forever and ever in the next. Amen.

Reinhold Niebuhr 1930s

Secular Intention for Serenity (Mine)

I seek the the serenity to accept the things I cannot change, the courage to change the things that I can, and the wisdom to know the difference

________________________________________

Living one day at a time, enjoying one moment at a time, accepting hardships as the pathway to peace. Taking this tumultuous world as it is, not as I would have it.

Trusting that if I accept life on life’s terms, and do the next right thing, I may be reasonably happy in this life.

Responsibility Declaration

I am Responsible

I am responsible, when anyone, anywhere reaches out for help, I want the hand of A.A. always to be there. And for that: I am responsible.

AA Preamble

Preamble

Alcoholics Anonymous is a fellowship of people who share their experience, strength and hope with each other, that they may solve their common problem and help others to recover from alcoholism. The only requirement for membership is a desire to stop drinking. There are no dues or fees for AA membership; we are self-supporting through our own contributions.

AA is not allied with any sect, denomination, politics, organization or institution; does not wish to engage in any controversy; neither endorses nor opposes any causes. Our primary purpose is to stay sober and help other alcoholics to achieve sobriety.

The AA Promises

Promises Original Big Book 4th Edition Version

If we are painstaking about this phase of our development, we will be amazed before we are halfway 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 and 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.

Alcoholics Anonymous p. 83-84

Promises Secular Version (Mine)

If we are painstaking about this phase of our development, we will be amazed before we are halfway 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 and 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 what we could not do when we only lived for ourselves – by ourselves, in isolation – becomes infinitely more possible and easier when relying on others and a power much bigger than 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.

How It Works

How It Works Original Big Book 4th Edition Version

Rarely have we seen a person fail who has thoroughly followed our path. Those who do not recover are people who cannot or will not completely give themselves to this simple program, usually men and women who are constitutionally incapable of being honest with themselves. There are such unfortunates. They are not at fault; they seem to have been born that way. They are naturally incapable of grasping and developing a manner of living which demands rigorous honesty. Their chances are less than average. There are those, too, who suffer from grave emotional and mental disorders, but many of them do recover if they have the capacity to be honest. 

Our stories disclose in a general way what we used to be like, what happened, and what we are like now. If you have decided you want what we have and are willing to go to any length to get it — then you are ready to take certain steps. 

At some of these we balked. We thought we could find an easier, softer way. But we could not. With all the earnestness at our command, we beg of you to be fearless and thorough from the very start. Some of us have tried to hold on to our old ideas and the result was nil until we let go absolutely. 

Remember that we deal with alcohol — cunning, baffling, powerful! Without help it is too much for us. But there is One who has all power — that One is God. May you find Him now! 

Half measures availed us nothing. We stood at the turning point. We asked His protection and care with complete abandon.

Here are the steps we took, which are suggested as a program of recovery:

  1. We admitted we were powerless over alcohol — that our lives had become unmanageable.
  2. Came to believe that a Power greater than ourselves could restore us to sanity.
  3. Made a decision to turn our will and our lives over to the care of God as we understood Him.
  4. Made a searching and fearless moral inventory of ourselves.
  5. Admitted to God, to ourselves, and to another human being the exact nature of our wrongs.
  6. Were entirely ready to have God remove all these defects of character.
  7. Humbly asked Him to remove our shortcomings.
  8. Made a list of all persons we had harmed, and became willing to make amends to them all.
  9. Made direct amends to such people wherever possible, except when to do so would injure them or others.
  10. Continued to take personal inventory and when we were wrong promptly admitted it.
  11. 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.
  12. 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.

Many of us exclaimed, “What an order! I can’t go through with it.’’ Do not be discouraged. No one among us has been able to maintain anything like perfect adherence to these principles. We are not saints. The point is, that we are willing to grow along spiritual lines. The principles we have set down are guides to progress. We claim spiritual progress rather than spiritual perfection.

Our description of the alcoholic, the chapter to the agnostic, and our personal adventures before and after make clear three pertinent ideas:

  1. a) That we were alcoholic and could not manage our own lives.
  2. b) That probably no human power could have relieved our alcoholism.
  3. c) That God could and would if He were sought.
How It Works Secular, Gender Neutral Version (Mine)

Rarely have we seen a person fail who has thoroughly followed our path. Those who do not recover are people who cannot or will not completely give themselves to this simple program, usually people who are constitutionally incapable of being honest with themselves. There are such unfortunates. They are not at fault; they seem to have been born that way. They are naturally incapable of grasping and developing a manner of living which demands rigorous honesty. Their chances are less than average. There are those, too, who suffer from grave emotional and mental disorders, but many of them do recover if they have the capacity to be honest. 

Our stories disclose in a general way what we used to be like, what happened, and what we are like now. If you have decided you want what we have and are willing to go to any length to get it — then you are ready to take certain steps. 

At some of these we balked. We thought we could find an easier, softer way. But we could not. With all the earnestness at our command, we beg of you to be fearless and thorough from the very start. Some of us have tried to hold on to our old ideas and the result was nil until we let go absolutely. 

Remember that we deal with alcohol — cunning, baffling, powerful! Without help it is too much for us. But there is powerful help  — that help is a spiritual program of unity, service and earnestly working with rigor the steps of recovery that follow.

Half measures availed us nothing. We stood at the turning point. We sought from our program of recovery protection and care with complete abandon of our ego.

Here are the steps we took, which are suggested as a program of recovery:

  1. We admitted we were powerless over alcohol – that our lives had become unmanageable.
  2. Came to accept and to understand that we needed strengths beyond our awareness and resources to restore us to sanity. 
  3. Made a decision to turn our will and our lives over to the care of the A.A. program. 
  4. Made a searching and fearless moral inventory of ourselves. 
  5. Admitted to ourselves without reservation, and to another human being, the exact nature of our wrongs. 
  6. Were ready to accept help in letting go of all our defects of character. 
  7. Humbly sought to have our shortcomings removed. 
  8. Made a list of all persons we had harmed and became willing to make amends to them all. 
  9. Made direct amends to such people wherever possible, except when to do so would injure them or others. 
  10. Continued to take personal inventory, and when we were wrong promptly admitted it. 
  11. Sought through mindful inquiry and meditation to improve our spiritual awareness, seeking only for knowledge of our rightful path in life and the power to carry that out. 
  12. 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.

Many of us exclaimed, “What an order! I can’t go through with it.’’ Do not be discouraged. No one among us has been able to maintain anything like perfect adherence to these principles. We are not saints. The point is, that we are willing to grow along spiritual lines. The principles we have set down are guides to progress. We claim spiritual progress rather than spiritual perfection.

Our description of the alcoholic, the chapter to the agnostic, and our personal adventures before and after make clear three pertinent ideas:

  1. a) That we were alcoholic and could not manage our own lives.
  2. b) That probably no human power could have relieved our alcoholism.
  3. c) That a power greater than ourselves could free us if it were sought in this program.

The Twelve Steps

Twelve Steps Original Big Book 4th Edition Version
  1. We admitted we were powerless over alcohol — that our lives had become unmanageable.
  2. Came to believe that a Power greater than ourselves could restore us to sanity.
  3. Made a decision to turn our will and our lives over to the care of God as we understood Him.
  4. Made a searching and fearless moral inventory of ourselves.
  5. Admitted to God, to ourselves, and to another human being the exact nature of our wrongs.
  6. Were entirely ready to have God remove all these defects of character.
  7. Humbly asked Him to remove our shortcomings.
  8. Made a list of all persons we had harmed, and became willing to make amends to them all.
  9. Made direct amends to such people wherever possible, except when to do so would injure them or others.
  10. Continued to take personal inventory and when we were wrong promptly admitted it.
  11. 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.
  12. 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.
Twelve Steps - Secular by We Agnostics AA/AA Agnostica
  1. We admitted we were powerless over alcohol – that our lives had become unmanageable.
  2. Came to accept and to understand that we needed strengths beyond our awareness and resources to restore us to sanity. 
  3. Made a decision to entrust our will and our lives to the care of the collective wisdom and resources of those who have searched before us. 
  4. Made a searching and fearless moral inventory of ourselves. 
  5. Admitted to ourselves without reservation, and to another human being, the exact nature of our wrongs. 
  6. Were ready to accept help in letting go of all our defects of character. 
  7. Humbly sought to have our shortcomings removed. 
  8. Made a list of all persons we had harmed and became willing to make amends to them all. 
  9. Made direct amends to such people wherever possible, except when to do so would injure them or others. 
  10. Continued to take personal inventory, and when we were wrong promptly admitted it. 
  11. Sought through mindful inquiry and meditation to improve our spiritual awareness, seeking only for knowledge of our rightful path in life and the power to carry that out. 
  12. 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.
Alternative Twelve Steps - Martha Cleveland
  1. We admitted we were powerless over alcohol – that attempts to control our drinking were futile and that our lives had become unmanageable.
  2. Came to believe that even though we could not fix our problems by ourselves, circumstances and forces beyond our personal control could help restore us to sanity and balance.
  3. Made a decision to accept things that were outside our control, especially what already is and to do the best with it.
  4. Made a searching and fearless inventory of ourselves. 
  5. Admitted to ourselves with total openness and to another human being, the exact nature of our wrongs.
  6. Became willing to let go of our behaviors and personality traits that could be construed as defects and were creating problems.
  7. With humility, we acknowledge that we had these shortcomings, and with openness, we sought to eliminate those shortcomings.
  8. Made a list of all persons we had harmed and became willing to make amends to them all. 
  9. Made direct amends to such people wherever possible, except when to do so would injure them or others. 
  10. Continued to take personal inventory, and when we were wrong promptly admitted it. 
  11. Sought through contemplation and meditation to improve self-awareness and adopted a spiritual approach to life as our primary purpose.
  12. We in turn, are ready to help others who come to us in the same way.
Humanist Alternative Twelve Steps - B.F. Skinner
  1. We accept the fact that all our efforts to stop drinking have failed.
  2. We believe that we must turn elsewhere for help.
  3. We turn to our fellow men and women, particularly those who have struggled with the same problem.
  4. We have made a list of the situations in which we are most likely to drink.
  5. We ask our friends to help us avoid these situations.
  6. We are ready to accept the help they give us.
  7. We earnestly hope that they will help.
  8. We have made a list of the persons we have harmed and to whom we hope to make amends.
  9. We shall do all we can to make amends, in any way that will not cause further harm.
  10. We will continue to make such lists and revise them as needed.
  11. We appreciate what our friends have done and are doing to help us.
  12. We, in turn, are ready to help others who may come to us in the same way.
Twelve Steps - Buddhist
  1. We admitted our addictive craving over alcohol, and recognized its consequences in our lives.
  2. Came to believe that a power other than self could restore us to wholeness.
  3. Made a decision to go for refuge to this other power as we understood it.
  4. Made a searching and fearless moral inventory of ourselves.
  5. Admitted to ourselves and another human being the exact moral nature of our past.
  6. Became entirely ready to work at transforming ourselves.
  7. With the assistance of others and our own firm resolve, we transformed unskillful aspects of ourselves and cultivated positive ones.
  8. Made a list of all persons we had harmed.
  9. Made direct amends to such people where possible, except when to do so would injure them or others. In addition, made a conscientious effort to forgive all those who harmed us.
  10. Continue to maintain awareness of our actions and motives, and when we acted unskillfully promptly admitted it.
  11. Engaged through the practice of meditation to improve our conscious contact with our true
    selves, and seeking that beyond self. Also used prayer as a means to cultivate positive attitudes
    and states of mind.
  12. Having gained spiritual insight as a result of these steps, we practice these principles in all
    areas of our lives, and make this message available to others in need of recovery.
Kasse Trauma Informed Twelve Steps
  1. We admitted we were powerless over alcohol – that our lives had become unmanageable.
  2. Came to accept and to understand that we needed strengths beyond our awareness and resources to restore us to sanity. 
  3. Made a decision to turn our will and our lives over to the care of the A.A. program. 
  4. Made a searching and fearless moral inventory of ourselves. 
  5. Admitted to ourselves without reservation, and to another human being, the exact nature of our wrongs. 
  6. Were ready to accept help in letting go of all our defects of character. 
  7. Humbly sought to have our shortcomings removed. 
  8. Made a list of all persons we had harmed and became willing to make amends to them all. 
  9. Made direct amends to such people wherever possible, except when to do so would injure them or others. 
  10. Continued to take personal inventory, and when we were wrong promptly admitted it. 
  11. Sought through mindful inquiry and meditation to improve our spiritual awareness, seeking only for knowledge of our rightful path in life and the power to carry that out. 
  12. 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.
Twelve Steps - Secular, Gender Neutral, Trauma-Informed (Mine)
  1. We admitted we were unwell – because we were powerless over alcohol, drugs, compulsive behaviors, and unhealthy coping mechanisms – and that as a result our lives had become unmanageable. 
  2. Came to accept and to understand that we needed strengths beyond our awareness and resources — from sources beyond ourselves — to restore us to wellness. 
  3. Made a decision to let go of our attempts to control things we were not meant to control, and entrust our will and our lives to the care of the collective wisdom and resources of those who have searched before us, and an authentic spirituality that works for us today.
  4. With courage, made a comprehensive and rigorously honest list of our behaviors and patterns that had caused us and others harm, at a pace that was emotionally safe for us.
  5. Admitted to ourselves without reservation, and to another human being that we could trust our comprehensive list of behaviors and patterns that had caused us and others harm, at a pace that was emotionally safe for us. 
  6. Were entirely ready to accept help in releasing behaviors that are creating problems and no longer serve us, as well as accept new, more constructive habits to serve our new lives going forward.
  7. With humility, we acknowledged these behaviors, and sought to live and act in all aspects of our lives – internally and externally – as if our problem habits had been removed, and that life and coping skills we previously lacked had been obtained.
  8. Made a list of all persons we had harmed and became willing internally to make amends to them all. 
  9. First, internally made forgiving peace with everyone we had harmed, and who may have harmed us, and made direct amends to such people wherever possible, except when to do so would injure them, others or ourselves – and in those rare cases found indirect ways to make amends, until we were at peace with our list.
  10. Continued, daily, to take personal inventory and responsibility for our mistakes, and promptly admitted to and atoned for them when we made new ones.
  11. Sought positive attitudes and states of mind through personal spirituality, mindful inquiry, contemplation and meditation to improve our self-awareness, eliminate ego, and become more conscientious of the universe around us — seeking only for knowledge of our rightful path in life and the power to carry that out. 
  12. Having gained spiritual insight as the result of these steps, we tried to carry this message to others suffering from similar maladies — ready to help others who come to us in the same way we came — and to practice these principles in all our affairs.

The Twelve Traditions

Twelve Traditions Short Form
  1. Our common welfare should come first; personal recovery depends upon A.A. unity.
  2. 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.
  3. The only requirement for A.A. membership is a desire to stop drinking.
  4. Each group should be autonomous except in matters affecting other groups or A.A. as a whole.
  5. Each group has but one primary purpose — to carry its message to the alcoholic who still suffers.
  6. 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.
  7. Every A.A. group ought to be fully self-supporting, declining outside contributions.
  8. Alcoholics Anonymous should remain forever non-professional, but our service centers may employ special workers.
  9. A.A., as such, ought never be organized; but we may create service boards or committees directly responsible to those they serve.
  10. Alcoholics Anonymous has no opinion on outside issues; hence the A.A. name ought never be drawn into public controversy.
  11. 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.
  12. Anonymity is the spiritual foundation of all our traditions, ever reminding us to place principles before personalities.
Twelve Traditions Long Form
  1. 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.
  2. For our group purpose there is but one ultimate authority–a loving God as He may express Himself in our group conscience.
  3. 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.
  4. 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 any 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.
  5. 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.
  6. 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 go so far as affiliation or endorsement, actual or implied. An A.A. group can bind itself to no one.
  7. 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.
  8. 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 may otherwise have to engage nonalcoholics. Such special services may be well recompensed. But our usual A.A. “12th Step” work is never to be paid for.
  9. 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 intergroup committee, which often employs a full-time secretary. The trustees of the General Service Board are, in effect, our A.A. General Service 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 Service Office at New York. They are authorized by the groups to handle our over-all public relations and they guarantee the integrity of our principle 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.
  10. No A.A. group or member should ever, in such a way as to implicate A.A., express any opinion on outside controversial 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.
  11. 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.
  12. 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 Lord’s Prayer — Give us this day our daily bread and forgive us our trespasses as we forgive those who trespass against us.

Lord's Prayer Religious Original

Our Father who art in heaven, hallowed be thy name. Thy kingdom come. Thy will be done on earth, as it is in heaven. Give us this day our daily bread, and forgive us our trespasses, as we forgive those who trespass against us, and lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from evil.

For the kingdom, the power and the glory are yours, now and forever.

Daily Bread - Secular Intention (Mine)

I seek only my fair share, this day, of my daily bread, and I hope to be forgiven of all my mistakes that have affected others, as I forgive those who have made mistakes that affected me. Let me not be prone to follow temptation, but rather let me stay on the clear and virtuous path.

Step Prayers

Third Step Prayer

Original Third Step Big Book 4th Edition Version Prayer

Many of us said to our maker, as we understood him, 

God, I offer myself to Thee – to build with me and to 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! 

Alcoholics Anonymous p. 59

Third Step Secular Intention (Mine)

I offer myself to be of service and an instrument of good and right. I seek to be relieved of the bondage of self, and to be granted victory over my difficulties, that I may always better do the next right thing, live authentically, and be an example to all of living a virtuous life.

Seventh Step Prayer

Seventh Step Original Big Book 4th Edition Version

My Creator, I am now willing that you should have all of me, good and bad. I pray that you now remove from me every single defect of character which stands in the way of my usefulness to you and my fellows. Grant me strength, as I go out from here, to do your bidding. Amen. 

 

Alcoholics Anonymous p. 76

Seventh Step Secular Intention (Mine)

I am now willing to give all of myself, good and bad, to the greater good. I hope that I may now have removed from me every single defect of character which stands in the way of my usefulness. May I be granted strength, as I go out from here, to always do the next right thing.

Other AA Prayers

Prayer of St. Francis

Original Prayer of St. Francis

Lord, make me a channel of thy peace – that where there is hatred, I may bring love – that where there is wrong, I may bring the spirit of forgiveness – that where there is discord, I may bring harmony – that where there is error, I may bring truth – that where there is doubt, I may bring faith – that where there is despair, I may bring hope – that where there are shadows, I may bring light – that where there is sadness, I may bring joy. Lord, grant that I may seek rather to comfort than to be comforted – to understand, than to be understood – to love, than to be loved. For it is by self-forgetting that one finds. It is by forgiving that one is forgiven. It is by dying that one awakens to eternal life. Amen.

Twelve Steps and Twelve Traditions, Step 11, pg. 99

Channel of Peace Secular Intention (Mine)

May I always seek to become a channel of peace – that where there is hatred, I may bring love – that where there is wrong, I may bring the spirit of forgiveness – that where there is discord, I may bring harmony – that where there is error, I may bring truth – that where there is negativity, I may bring reassurance – that where there is despair, I may bring hope – that where there are shadows, I may bring light – that where there is sadness, I may bring joy. May I always seek rather to comfort than to be comforted – to understand, than to be understood – to love, than to be loved. For it is by unselfishness that one finds. It is by forgiving that one is forgiven. It is by relinquishing the ego that one awakens who they truly are.

Thomas Merton Prayer

Thomas Merton Original Prayer

My Lord God, I have no idea where I am going. I do not see the road ahead of me. I cannot know for certain where it will end. Nor do I really know myself, and the fact that I think that I am following your will does not mean that I am actually doing so. But I believe that the desire to please you does in fact please you. And I hope I have that desire in all that I am doing. I hope that I will never do anything apart from that desire. And I know that if I do this you will lead me by the right road though I may know nothing about it. Therefore will I trust you always though I may seem to be lost and in the shadow of death. I will not fear, for you are ever with me, and you will never leave me to face my perils alone.

Thomas Merton Secular Intention (Mine)

I have no idea where I am going. I do not see the road ahead of me. I cannot know for certain where it will end. Nor do I really know myself, and the fact that I think that I am doing the next right thing does not mean that I am actually doing so. But I believe that the desire to live virtuously is itself virtuous. And I hope I have that desire in all that I am doing. I hope that I will never do anything apart from that desire. And I know that if I seek to consistently do this, I will eventually be led by the right road though I may know nothing about it. Therefore will I always remain optimistic, though I may seem to be lost and in the shadow of death. I will not fear, for I will never be left alone to face my perils I can’t handle.

Set Aside Prayer

Original Set Aside Prayer

God, today help me set aside everything I think I know about You, everything I think I know about myself, everything I think I know about others, and everything I think I know about my own recovery so I may have an open mind and a new experience with all these things. Please help me see the truth.

Set Aside Secular Intention (Mine)

I seek to set aside everything I think I know about myself, everything I think I know about others, and everything I think I know about my own recovery so I may have an open mind and a new experience with all these things. May I always look for the truth.

Sick Man’s Prayer

Original Sick Man's Prayer

This was our course: We realized that the people who wronged us were perhaps spiritually sick. Though we did not like their symptoms and the way these disturbed us, they, like ourselves, were sick too. We asked God to help us show them the same tolerance, pity, and patience that we would cheerfully grant a sick friend. When a person offended we said to ourselves, “This is a sick man. How can I be helpful to him? God save me from being angry. Thy will be done.”

Alcoholics Anonymous P. 67

Sick Man's Secular Intention (Mine)

We realize the people who wrong us are perhaps spiritually unwell. Though we do not like their symptoms and the way these disturbed us, they, like ourselves, were sick too. We seek to show them the same tolerance, pity, and patience that we would cheerfully grant a sick friend. When a person offended us, we said to ourselves, “This is an unwell person in need of care. How can I be helpful to them? Anger is foolish in this situation. With virtue in mind, I need to seek out the next compassionate and kind action.”

AA Literature Reading

On Awakening

On Awakening

On Awakening let us think about the twenty-four hours ahead. We consider our plans for the day. Before we begin, we ask God to direct our thinking, especially asking that it be divorced from self-pity, dishonest or self-seeking motives. Under these conditions we can employ our mental faculties with assurance, for after all God gave us brains to use. Our thought-life will be placed on a much higher plane when our thinking is cleared of wrong motives. 

In thinking about our day we may face indecision. We may not be able to determine which course to take. Here we ask God for inspiration, an intuitive thought or a decision. We relax and take it easy. We don’t struggle. We are often surprised how the right answers come after we have tried this for a while. 

What used to be the hunch or the occasional inspiration gradually becomes a working part of the mind. Being still inexperienced and having just made conscious contact with God, it is not probable that we are going to be inspired at all times. We might pay for this presumption in all sorts of absurd actions and ideas. Nevertheless, we find that our thinking will, as time passes, be more and more on the plane of inspiration. We come to rely upon it. 

We usually conclude the period of meditation with a prayer that we be shown all through the day what our next step is to be, that we be given whatever we need to take care of such problems. We ask especially for freedom from self-will, and are careful to make no request for ourselves only. We may ask for ourselves, however, if others will be helped. We are careful never to pray for our own selfish ends. Many of us have wasted a lot of time doing that and it doesn’t work. You can easily see why. 

If circumstances warrant, we ask our wives or friends to join us in morning meditation. If we belong to a religious denomination which requires a definite morning devotion, we attend to that also. If not members of religious bodies, we sometimes select and memorize a few set prayers which emphasize the principles we have been discussing. There are many helpful books also. Suggestions about these may be obtained from one’s priest, minister, or rabbi. Be quick to see where religious people are right. Make use of what they offer. 

As we go through the day we pause, when agitated or doubtful, and ask for the right thought or action. We constantly remind ourselves we are no longer running the show, humbly saying to ourselves many times each day “Thy will be done.” We are then in much less danger of excitement, fear, anger, worry, self-pity, or foolish decisions. We become much more efficient. We do not tire so easily, for we are not burning up energy foolishly as we did when we were trying to arrange life to suit ourselves. 

It works – it really does. 

We alcoholics are undisciplined. So we let God discipline us in the simple way we have just outlined. 

But this is not all. There is action and more action. “Faith without works is dead.” The next chapter is entirely devoted to Step Twelve. 

Alcoholics Anonymous P. 86 – 88

The Actor

The Actor

The first requirement is that we be convinced that any life run on self-will can hardly be a success. On that basis we are almost always in collision with something or somebody, even though our motives are good. Most people try to live by self-propulsion. Each person is like an actor who wants to run the whole show; is forever trying to arrange the lights, the ballet, the scenery and the rest of the players in his own way. If his arrangements would only stay put, if only people would do as he wished, the show would be great. Everybody, including himself, would be pleased. Life would be wonderful. In trying to make these arrangements our actor may sometimes be quite virtuous. He may be kind, considerate, patient, generous; even modest and self-sacrificing. On the other hand, he may be mean, egotistical, selfish and dishonest. But, as with most humans, he is more likely to have varied traits. 

What usually happens? The show doesn’t come off very well. He begins to think life doesn’t treat him right. He decides to exert himself more. He becomes, on the next occasion, still more demanding or gracious, as the case may be. Still the play does not suit him. Admitting he may be somewhat at fault, he is sure that other people are more to blame. He becomes angry, indignant, self-pitying. What is his basic trouble? Is he not really a self-seeker even when trying to be kind? Is he not a victim of the delusion that he can wrest satisfaction and happiness out of this world if he only manages well? Is it not evident to all the rest of the players that these are the things he wants? And do not his actions make each of them wish to retaliate, snatching all they can get out of the show? Is he not, even in his best moments, a producer of confusion rather than harmony? 

Our actor is self-centered—ego-centric, as people like to call it nowadays. He is like the retired business man who lolls in the Florida sunshine in the winter complaining of the sad state of the nation; the minister who sighs over the sins of the twentieth century; politicians and reformers who are sure all would be Utopia if the rest of the world would only behave; the outlaw safe cracker who thinks society has wronged him; and the alcoholic who has lost all and is locked up. Whatever our protestations, are not most of us concerned with ourselves, our resentments, or our self-pity? 

Selfishness—self-centeredness! That, we think, is the root of our troubles. Driven by a hundred forms of fear, self-delusion, self-seeking, and self-pity, we step on the toes of our fellows and they retaliate. Sometimes they hurt us, seemingly without provocation, but we invariably find that at some time in the past we have made decisions based on self which later placed us in a position to be hurt. 

So our troubles, we think, are basically of our own making. They arise out of ourselves, and the alcoholic is an extreme example of self-will run riot, though he usually doesn’t think so. Above everything, we alcoholics must be rid of this selfishness. We must, or it kills us! God makes that possible. And there often seems no way of entirely getting rid of self without His aid. Many of us had moral and philosophical convictions galore, but we could not live up to them even though we would have liked to. Neither could we reduce our self-centeredness much by wishing or trying on our own power. We had to have God’s help. 

This is the how and why of it. First of all, we had to quit playing God. It didn’t work. Next, we decided that hereafter in this drama of life, God was going to be our Director. He is the Principal; we are His agents. He is the Father, and we are His children. Most good ideas are simple, and this concept was the keystone of the new and triumphant arch through which we passed to freedom.

Alcoholics Anonymous p. 60

Acceptance is the Answer

Acceptance is the Answer (Part One)

And acceptance is the answer to all my problems today. When I am disturbed, it is because I find some person, place, thing, or situation – some face of my life – unacceptable to me, and I can find no serenity until I accept that person, place, thing or situation as being exactly the way it is supposed to be at this moment. Nothing, absolutely nothing, happens in God’s world by mistake. Until I could accept my alcoholism, I could not stay sober; unless I accept life completely on life’s terms, I cannot be happy. I need to concentrate not so much on what needs to be changed in the world as on what needs to be changed in me and my attitudes. 

Shakespeare said, “All the world’s a stage, and all the men and women merely players.” He forgot to mention that I was the chief critic. I was always able to see the flaw in every person, every situation. And I was always glad to point it out, because I knew you wanted perfection, just as I did. A.A. and acceptance have taught me that there is a bit of good in the worst of us and a bit of bad in the best of us; that we are all children of God and we each have a right to be here. When I complain about me or about you, I am complaining about God’s handiwork. I am saying that I know better than God. 

For years I was sure the worst thing that could happen to a nice guy like me would be that I would turn out to be an alcoholic. Today I find it’s the best thing that has ever happened to me. This proves I don’t know what’s good for me. And if I don’t know what’s good for me, then I don’t know what’s good or bad for you or for anyone. So I’m better off if I don’t give advice, don’t figure I know what’s best, and just accept life on life’s terms, as it is today – especially my own life, as it actually is. Before A.A. I judged myself by my intentions, while the world was judging me by my actions.

Alcoholics Anonymous p. 417-418

Acceptance is the Answer (Part Two)

Perhaps the best thing of all for me is to remember that my serenity is inversely proportional to my expectations. The higher my expectations of Max and other people are, the lower is my serenity. I can watch my serenity level rise when I discard my expectations. But then my “rights” try to move in, and they too can force my serenity level down. I have to discard my “rights,” as well as my expectations, by asking myself, how important is it really? How important is it compared to my serenity, my emotional sobriety? And when I place more value on my serenity and sobriety than on anything else, I can maintain them at a higher lever – at least for the time being. 

Acceptance is the key to my relationship with God today. I never just sit and do nothing while waiting for Him to tell me what to do. Rather, I do whatever is in front of me to be done, and I leave the results up to Him; however it turns out, that’s God’s will for me. 

I must keep my magic magnifying mind on my acceptance and off my expectations for my serenity is directly proportional to my level of acceptance. When I remember this, I can see I’ve never had it so good. Thank God for A.A.!

Alcoholics Anonymous p. 420

The Great Fact

The Great Fact

There is a solution. Almost none of us liked the self- searching, the leveling of our pride, the confession of shortcomings which the process requires for its suc- cessful consummation. But we saw that it really worked in others, and we had come to believe in the hopelessness and futility of life as we had been living it. When, therefore, we were approached by those in whom the problem had been solved, there was nothing left for us but to pick up the simple kit of spiritual tools laid at our feet. We have found much of heaven and we have been rocketed into a fourth dimension of existence of which we had not even dreamed. 

The great fact is just this, and nothing less: That we have had deep and effective spiritual experiences* which have revolutionized our whole attitude toward life, toward our fellows and toward God’s universe. The central fact of our lives today is the absolute cer- tainty that our Creator has entered into our hearts and lives in a way which is indeed miraculous. He has commenced to accomplish those things for us which we could never do by ourselves. 

If you are as seriously alcoholic as we were, we believe there is no middle-of-the-road solution. We were in a position where life was becoming impossible, and if we had passed into the region from which there is no return through human aid, we had but two alterna- tives: One was to go on to the bitter end, blotting out the consciousness of our intolerable situation as best we could; and the other, to accept spiritual help. This we did because we honestly wanted to, and were willing to make the effort.

Alcoholics Anonymous p. 25-26

Favorite Non-AA Prayers

Favorite Daoist Prayers

Daoist Prayer

The tao that can be told
is not the eternal Tao.
The name that can be named
is not the eternal Name.
The unnamable is the eternally real.
Naming is the origin
of all particular things.
Free from desire, you realize the mystery.
Caught in desire, you see only the manifestations.
Yet mystery and manifestations
arise from the same source.
This source is called darkness.
Darkness within darkness.
The gateway to all understanding.
– Lao Tzu from the “Tao Te Ching”

Daoist Sunrise Prayer

All we need is the morning.
As long as there is sunrise,
then there is the possibility
that we can face all of our misfortunes, celebrate all our blessings, and live all our endeavors as
human beings.
Spirituality is something that has become necessary in these troubled times.
Yet it is inherently superfluous.
We need it to remind ourselves,
to bolster ourselves,
to integrate ourselves,
to fulfill ourselves.
If we could simply acknowledge
the mystery of night and the glory of morning, we would need neither civilization nor spirituality.
At its simplest, life begins with dawn.
That is blessing enough.
All else becomes fullness immeasurable.
At dawn, kneel down and give thanks for this wonderful event.
We may think mornings are so common they are unworthy of veneration, but do you realize most
places in the cosmos
do not have mornings?
This daily event is our supreme goodness.
Greet the dawn.
That is your miracle to witness.
That is the ultimate beauty.
That is sacredness.
That is your gift from heaven.
That is your omen of prophesy.
That is knowledge that life is not futile.
That is enlightenment.
That is your meaning in life.

That is your directive.
That is your comfort.
That is the solemnity of duty.
That is inspiration for compassion.
That is the light of the ultimate.”
-Deng Ming-Dao

Daoist Balance Prayer

Lord, let us empty of all doctrines,
The Tao is wisdom eternally inexhaustible.
Fathomless for the mere intellect,
The Tao is the law wherewith all things come into being.
It blunts the edges of the intellect,
Untangles the knots of the mind,
Softens the glare of thinking,
And settles the dust of thought.
Transparent yet invisible,
The Tao exists like deep pellucid water.
Its origin is unknown,
For it existed before Heaven and Earth.
– Lao-tsu

Daoist Peace Prayer

If there is to be peace in the world,
There must be peace in the nations.
If there is to be peace in the nations,
There must be peace in the cities.
If there is to be peace in the cities,
There must be peace between neighbors.
If there is to be peace between neighbors,
There must be peace in the home.
If there is to be peace in the home,
There must be peace in the heart.
– Lao-tsu

Daoist Disciples of Life Prayer

We are born gentle and weak. At death we are hard and stiff. Green plants are tender and filled with sap. When they die they are withered and dry. Therefore the stiff and unbending are the disciples of death. The gentle and yielding are the disciples of life.
– Lao Tzu from the “Tao Te Ching”

Additional Favorite Non-AA Prayers

Unitarian-Universalist Prayer

I know little of who you are. I know little of your plan. I can understand only specks of your power. I cannot begin to comprehend all of what you are. But this I know. You do not give love, you are love. You do not project beauty, you are beauty. You do not allow hope, you are hope. You do not lend strength, you are strength. All that is good is your gift. All that is bad is the consequence of man s attempt to reject or mold you. The solutions to my problems, my fears, and my shame are all found in you.

All things I wish to be come from my desire to be closer to you. I see you every time I see the light shining through a tree. I see you every time a sunset or mountain vista takes my breath away. I hear you ever time I open myself to the wonder of life. I feel you every time my heart fills with joy and love. I doubt you only when I allow fear, and greed, and selfishness to assume the power to control me. I know that if I allow you in my life I feel peace. When I embrace you I feel love. When I seek you I find strength.

Father, show me the way to serenity so that I may be of help to others. Show me the way to responsibility so that I may give to others.

Mother, show me the path to compassion so that I may comfort others. Show me the path to healing so I may help others heal themselves.

Grandfather, show me the road to wisdom so that I may teach others. Show me the road to strength so that I may carry others until they can carry themselves.

Grandmother, show me how to feel love so that I may love others. Show me forgiveness so that I may forgive myself and others.

God, help me remove the blinders of self-will. Help me see what is true. Teach me so that I can be of service. Free me from fear, from hate, from greed, from discontent so that I may contribute myself to your work. Allow me to see what you would have me do and grant me the strength to follow through. Without you I am empty. With you at my side I am whole.

Thank You.

Tiffany Jones: My First Prayer

I begin this thing called Prayer.
Immediately there is nothing.
And everything.
Glory fills the crevices between each muscle, each bone, each vein.
Bubbles of life continue to spring, seemingly from nowhere.
And what am I to say?
What is prayer?
Every cell in my body becomes alive.
My breath quietens and thickens.
Pressure rests on my forehead
And Still, my mind is quiet.
There seems nothing to say
Apart from praise.
Words, much used,
Spring to mind. Glory.
Blessed. Life. Love.
Praise of Life
Gives way to gratitude.
Noticing the life swimming in my veins,
Swimming in the veins of the world,
I want to thank Life itself, for Life.
And then, quickly, on gratitude’s heels,
Comes the wish that all may feel, may perceive
May experience this blessed love for Life.
For Creation, for the unnamed and unnameable.
And my first Prayer fades into the moment
Wish a sweetness of remembered perfume.
– Tiffany Jones

Save Your Servant Prayer

Save your servant, O Sustainer of Life,
From too early a death.
Free me of that affliction of believers
Who so easily become rigid of heart
In their journeys to you.
Make my heart like the green willow tree
That easily bends in the wind,
That bows gracefully before the storm
Only to raise its head again with renewed life
When the angry clouds have moved on.
Fill me this day, I pray,
With the strength of your Spirit,
The strength to be flexible and ever-green.
Create within me the heart
Of a disciple of life,
A heart that is gentle and meek.
Let me learn a lesson from your daughter water
Who seeks the lowest path,
Ever yielding and humble,
Yet wears down the strongest stones into sand.
In her I see the wisdom of the Tao:
The hard and strong will fall;
The soft and meek shall overcome.
– Ed Hays

Life With Hope Prayer

Higher Power,
I have tried to control the uncontrollable for far too long.
I acknowledge that my life is unmanageable.
I ask for your care and guidance.
Grant me honesty, courage, humility, and serenity,
to face that which keeps me from you and others.
I give this life to you to do with as you will.

Nature’s Course Prayer

The flower invites the butterfly with no-mind;
The butterfly visits the flower with no-mind.
The flower opens, the butterfly comes;
The butterfly comes, the flower opens.
I don’t know others,
Others don’t know me.
By not-knowing we follow nature’s course.
– Ryokan