The simple complexities of prayer
Updated: Sep 13
“We shouldn't be shy on this matter of prayer” -- page 85 of the big book of Alcoholics Anonymous.
Prayer is mentioned over 40 times in the book ‘Alcoholics Anonymous’. Without question, it has become an instrumental element in our recovery.
Many who walk the path that we are on struggle with this concept. We wriggled as well we stretched to relearn the process and inherent power of prayer.
This blog is not intended to be the end-all but instead broaches the subject from our vantage and experience and leaves us precisely where we sit today on topic. We are not experts on the subject nor theologians by trade. We are simply sharing our experience, strength, and hope in the quest to connect more people to this superpower.
We believe everything starts at the beginning. Our youth shaped our today.
Early childhood, for us, was all about discovery. Discovering for ourselves what or who created this complex world in which we live. We had to come to a conclusion that made sense to our tiny brains. Could this have all come together by happenstance? Would we learn that a godless scenario unfolded over time or that all things came to be due to a big intergalactic explosion? For us, we chose the God thing. And though we could not get our minds wrapped around the synchronization of events, we accepted that a super being was undoubtedly responsible. That is where we parked.
Our preadolescent phase guided us to a prayer experience that used repetitive recital and the occasional big word intended to add emphasis. In short, we were not connecting but contributing from our head knowledge. Guided by organized religion, we mimicked, going through the motions void of any meaning.
Young adulthood saw us adapting a foxhole strategy. We would shoot up prayers to the unknown asking for delivery from situations we had backed ourselves into: please let me get out of this mess, please don't let him pull me over, please provide me $1,000,000 and please make the shakes stop. Statistical probability provided instant relief in some cases but ultimately left us short of being millionaires.
Religious education failed to deliver on answering the question we weren’t asking; how do I connect with my God in a way that feels real?
There is this saying that we have heard multiple times in the meeting rooms of Alcoholics Anonymous, and the phrase is: “God brought me to AA, and AA brought me to God”. And though this did not make sense to us early on, we have come to appreciate the truth in those words.
There is no doubt in our minds that we were prayed into the program of Alcoholics Anonymous. Moms, wives, sisters, and brothers all prayed for the cure to our ailment, a nasty addiction to alcohol that was so obviously causing destruction through the deterioration of our ability to function in society.
How they prayed, what magic words they used, and how their appeal was heard will remain unclear to us. It doesn't really matter. What matters is that we have, through their prayer, found a program of recovery that has repaired the leak in our lifestyle, if only temporarily.
AA suggested that we become open and willing to approach things in a whole new way. The textbook of treatment (The AA Big Book) repeated its plea for us to seek a relationship with a power greater than ourselves. We chose the God of our youth.
We were reintroduced to prayer as each meeting we attended was closed out with the Lord's prayer -straight from the Bible we bought into. We started listening to the words as they were taught. Slowly, we began to connect to the phrases that aligned with our core beliefs.
Concurrently, we set off on a quest to understand God and how that understanding might help us understand ourselves. We found direction from the local churches, books, and online resources. The more we learned, the more eager we became to draw closer to the One we have trusted since youth.
We have come to a place where relationship trumps religion. Real conversations provide the base for a connection we never thought possible.
We speak from our hearts, reaching for the genuine and honest and not searching for the right words. We are not churchy; we are raw.
Today we pray not for $1,000,000 but that our talents are used to spread hope. We pray that the shakes will stop for others. We pray for patience and peace and courage. We pray for others more than we pray for ourselves; we commonly attempt to use our influence (LOL) to bring people to the doorway of recovery, Alcoholics Anonymous.
We pray because it reminds us daily that we are not the creator of the universes. We pray because we believe that our creator wants a relationship with us. We pray because others can't or won't pray for themselves.
Prayer, like an iPhone charger, is the energy needed to keep us going in this sinful world, that throws us challenges. Sure, we bookend our days with earnest prayer time, but it is the during-the-day engagements where the shit gets real.
The best we can tell, God does not prefer emails as the preferred means of communication. The Bible and the big book of AA point us to prayer.
We leave you with the extended version of the serenity prayer. This has become, for us, a staple in our arsenal. Evidence of the origins of the prayer suggests that the two segments may have been written separately but are commonly recited together:
God grant me the Serenity To accept the things I cannot change, 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 hardship as a pathway to peace, Taking, as he did, this sinful world as it is, Not as I would like it.
Trusting that he will make all things right, If I surrender to his will. That I may be reasonably happy in this world And supremely happy in the next.
We are here to pray for you – until you can pray for yourself.
Thoughts and ideas for this blog post were taken and built upon from a sober.coffee podcast #23 Prayer and Sobriety... (Part I) Now that Foxhole Prayers are Over !!..the episode dropped on 9/8/2021 Click here to hear the podcast.
Alcoholics Anonymous and AA are registered trademarks of Alcoholics World Service. Inc. References to AA, the 12 steps, and 12 traditions does not mean that AA has reviewed or approved the contents of this publication nor that AA agrees with the views expressed herein. This publication is intended to support personal growth and should not be considered a substitute for healthcare professionals' advice. The author’s advice and viewpoints are their own.