12 Step Prayers

PrayingOne of the founding principles of AA and by extension, all other 12 step programs, is the reliance on a higher power for guidance and help. For Bill W, the founder of AA, this meant the peace and aid that comes from a heartfelt prayer.

Since then, many prayers have been written around 12 step programs. In fact there are lists that include entries for each step as well as “general purpose” prayers. The “step prayers” are meant to offer guidance and hope for each step along the path and are adapted from the AA Big Book.

Most of us have heard the Serenity Prayer said at meetings or under someone’s breath in a time of crisis. “Grant me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change…” There’s a great deal of power that comes when a group of recovering addicts or alcoholics share a prayer out-loud at a meeting. If your group doesn’t do this, I’ll recommend you ask the other members about trying it.

One of the most touching experiences you can have in a 12 step meeting is a candlelight vigil where members read the passage or prayer they find most moving.

For individuals, having a prayer they can say is a way to keep focused and get the inspiration they need as they go through the program. Since the 12 steps include a reliance on a higher power, it makes sense to keep this in the forefront by asking for comfort and help by way of sincere prayer.

Beyond this, having a short, poetry-like snippet posted as a screen-saver or where you will run across it can have a subtle but potent effect. The experience is one of sudden re-set and grounding. And it doesn’t have to be an “official” prayer. Sometimes just a short reminder will do, “Let go, let God.”

The 12 step prayers also serve as starting points for deeper and more individual meditations. By reading and reciting a written prayer, people find they are freer to pray about other concerns as well.

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