AcceptanceDo you pray? What is prayer? How can it support your recovery?

In this episode, Spencer shares his personal journey to and understanding of prayer.

  • I did not grow up with a tradition of prayer.
    • My idea of prayer as a young person: “God, please give me a pony.”
    • It didn’t work!
  • I did not grow up with an understanding of or belief in God.
    • So prayer is meaningless, right?
  • The 12 steps challenged me to find meaning in these concepts: God and Prayer.
  • What is prayer? How do we pray? Why do we pray?
  • Serenity prayer — helped me to get through difficult moments/hours/days.
    • My first experience of non “pony” prayer.
    • I say “God, grant me the serenity…”
    • The atheist version: “Please grant me the serenity…”
  • Going beyond the serenity prayer…
    • 3rd & 7th step prayers from AA big book.
    • “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!”
    • “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.”
    • Another version of 3rd step prayer: “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.”
  • Anne Lamott suggests that there are 3 “essential” prayers: Help, Thanks, Wow: The Three Essential Prayers
    • The serenity prayer is a “Help” prayer, as are the 3rd and 7th step prayers.
    • When I express gratitude, whether to God or the universe, I am praying “Thanks”.
    • a prayer of gratitude, sung this morning at church
      • We give thanks for this precious day / for all gathered here and those far away / for this time we share with love and care / Oh, we give thanks for this precious day.
    • A “Wow!” prayer: e.e. cummings, “i thank You God for most this amazing day
    • Another Wow! prayer: Hallelujah Chorus, which we sang together after the service this morning.
  • A fourth kind of prayer, which I might call “Be well”. Every Sunday, we sing our children to their classes with this: Go now in peace / Go now in peace / May the spirit of love surround you everywhere / everywhere you go.
  • Why do I pray?
    • “Prayer doesn’t change the world, prayer changes me.”
    • A prayer that I say every morning (when I remember): “Lord, help me to hold myself and others to a standard of grace, rather than perfection.” Why? Because it addresses (at least) two of my character defects: perfectionism and my expectation that others will do things my way. (Thus: part of my seventh step practice.)
    • It reminds me that others are also children of God, that they have inherent worth and deserve respect, and that I am not in control.
    • Prayer reminds me that I am not alone and that I need not solve all my problems by myself.
    • Prayer gives me a way to focus on that which is important to me.
    • Prayer gives me a way to express my hopes and fears.

Upcoming topics include Fun! How do you have fun? How have you learned to have fun?  Please call us at 734-707-8795 or email with your questions or experience, strength and hope. Or just leave a comment right here.

Music from the show

Pink Floyd: Is there Anybody out There?


Handel: the Hallelujah Chorus

e e cummings: i thank you god for most this amazing day


Several members talked about this book: The 5 Love Languages: The Secret to Love that Lasts

1 comment on “Prayer – Episode 111

  1. Emily says:

    Hi Spencer,
    My name is Emily and I am one of your regular listeners from the UK. I listened last night to your podcast on Prayer and I wanted to share back with you. I have been attending Al Anon for about 8 months now and am part of a wonderful and evolving home group. I also attend local AA meetings occasionally which have been really helpful for me to nurture compassion and gain greater strength and hope. The shares in the AA rooms really give me courage as I see others being so brave facing the disease of alcoholism. I fellow member of my home Al Anon group told me about your programme and since then I have been literally devouring all of your podcasts!

    I have been struggling in a loving yet toxic co-dependent relationship for 18 years with a husband who struggles with addictive behaviour. We have 3 wonderful children and have been working hard over the past year or so to take the steps needed to try and change our lives so we can remain together despite the difficulties of the disease of addiction which has affected all of our lives. The podcasts on control and the 4 M’s was particularly helpful.

    In my home meeting last night we were discussing Step 6 as our topic.’ Being entirely ready to have God remove all your defects of character’. I have been struggling with the whole concept of a higher power for some time now. My autonomy and sense of self will is so strong it has been hard for me to let go of the desire not to think I can fix everything myself. The fact that my family of origin was also not one where there was any spiritual or religious frame of reference at all had also left me a pretty confident atheist for many many years. My parents were rebelling against their own religious and fairly conservative up brings. They were children of the 60s who participated in the anti-capitalist, anti-religion and anti-sexist revolution.. whilst I grew up accepting many of these values, I have realised over the past few years that this has also left me very unclear about stuff like boundaries and with a deep lack of any spirituality. Someone – maybe it was you – talked a while ago about a God-shaped hole. Attending last nights meeting about Step 6 and then listening later to your podcast on Prayer last night, has made me really examine this God-shaped hole inside of me. It was really great to listen to your experience some of which really resonated with me and I especially loved the songs and prayers which you shared. I think it has enabled me to feel able to take the next steps in nurturing some spirituality and finding my own Higher Power. I love the comment you made – Fake it until you Make it…it made me see that I can just start the process – I don’t need any bolt of lightening or shiny light to come bouncing into the room! I will try this. You are very inspirational to me – as are all the other co-hosts who share their experiences. Despite being so far away across the other side of the world I can feel such love and hope. Thank you I have now started to write my own list of prayers. Love from Stroud in the UK.

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