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How Alcoholics Anonymous Third Step Prayer Works

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“Made a decision to turn our will and our lives over to the care of God as we
understood Him.” ––– Step 3

When a newcomer is in the rooms of Alcoholics Anonymous, the third step prayer can cause some confusion.

Often people will say to do the third step prayer, someone has to “just turn it over.” Other times, newcomers are told to just keep going to meetings until they get it.

But there is more to the step than simply going to meetings or mentally trying to turn it over to God.

If that were the case and it worked, then all we would need to do is say a simple prayer to God and have faith and we would be cured of our alcoholism, and we would never drink again.

But for the chronic alcoholic, few remedies work for full, long-term recovery. To better understand how to take the third step, let’s quickly look at steps one and two.

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Step One of Alcoholics Anonymous

Admitted we were powerless over alcohol and that our lives have become unmanageable.

Many people who go to A.A. meetings have experienced step one. But that doesn’t necessarily mean they understand the step and what it means for the real alcoholic.

The symptoms of alcoholism affect everyone the same. The symptoms are that when someone starts drinking, they are going to do way more than they thought they were going to do, or once they stop, they are going to drink or use again.

For alcoholics and addicts, we have a problem with our minds and bodies.

When drinking, the body has a manifestation of an allergy when we start drinking. Our bodies physically want more alcohol and we will not stop.

Eventually, however, a consequence will occur like, divorce, car wreck, jail, unemployment. When this happens, the alcoholic wakes up and emerges remorseful with a strong resolution to never drink again.

The second part of the disease of alcoholism is that we can’t stay stopped. No matter how bad the consequences or how much we have harmed people we love, we will drink again.

Our mind tells us after a while that it is okay to drink. No matter what happened the last time we went on a spree, this time it is going to be different. We drink again and the vicious cycle happens again.

We take a drink. We go on a spree. Consequences happen. We stop. Then for whatever reason, our mind tells us it is okay to do it again.

This is the true powerlessness of alcoholism. We are without defense against the first drink.

The scary thing is, which the Doctor’s Opinion states, we cannot differentiate the truth from the false, and we think how we live our alcoholic life is actually normal.

Truly understanding that you are going to drink again — no matter what — is the first step in recovery.

We learned that we had to fully concede to our innermost selves that we were alcoholics. This is the first step in recovery. The delusion that we are like other people, or presently may be, has to be smashed.
––Alcoholics Anonymous Page 30

Step Two of Alcoholics Anonymous

Came to believe that a Power greater than ourselves could restore us to sanity.

Step two is easier to do than to actually explain. It takes longer to explain it than it does to do it.

Treatment centers and different A.A. groups and sponsors have different ways of showing their clients and members this step.

Many times when someone is in treatment or going to meetings, they have tried almost everything they know to get sober. But they have not tried the spiritual component of it.

They may have had moral convictions, but they could not live up to them. What the steps can do is give you a new attitude towards life and yourself.

One of the few ways an addict or alcoholic can get this new attitude is by getting connected to a higher power. Lack of power is our true problem, we need to get connected to something that is bigger than ourselves.

Taking step two is simple.

“We needed to ask ourselves but one short question. “Do I now believe, or am I even willing to believe, that there is a Power greater than myself?” As soon as a man can say that he does believe, or is willing to believe, we emphatically assure him that he is on his way. It has been repeatedly proven among us that upon this simple cornerstone a wonderfully effective spiritual structure can be built.”

Many people who are atheist or agnostic are reluctant to ask for a high power’s help. But no matter how inadequate your conception of something that is bigger than you is, it is okay.

Perhaps you don’t believe in God but are you at least willing to try to get connected to something bigger than you? Willingness is indispensable. If the answer is yes, then you are ready for step three.

Step Three of Alcoholics Anonymous

Made a decision to turn our will and our lives over to the care of God as we understood Him.

In step three, the first three words are the most important. Made a decision.

You are making a decision: Are you going to continue to manage and control your alcoholism in step one? Or are you going to try something completely different in step two and seek help from a high power?

Once you decide to take certain steps, then you start by taking action. The first action step is step four.

But here is the thing that gets confused in many A.A. circles.

Many people will use an A.A. slogan, like “Just turn it over.” But that’s not right.

Here’s an analogy: If you are at home and decide you need to go to the grocery store, have you gone to the grocery store yet? No. After you make a decision to go to the grocery store, you need to get your keys and drive to the store.

The same is true for step three. If you decide to turn your will and your life over to the care of God, after you decide, you still need to do the rest of the 12 steps.

And once you begin, you will start turning your will and life over to the care of God. Your attitude will start changing and the way you think, operate, and react to life will be different.

This is the true meaning of step three.

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!

–– 3rd Step Prayer

5 Tips for Incorporating the Third Step Prayer into Daily Life

The Big Book of Alcoholics Anonymous

1. Begin the day with the prayer

Set aside a few minutes each morning to recite the Third Step Prayer. Then, find a quiet space to focus and set a positive and surrendering tone for the day ahead. Use this time to center yourself and connect with your higher power.

2. Create reminders

Place visual cues or set up reminders on your phone throughout the day to prompt you to recite the prayer. These reminders can serve as gentle prompts to bring your attention back to your spiritual journey and reinforce the practice of surrender and reliance on a higher power.

3. Make it a ritual

Establish a dedicated time and place for prayer in your daily routine. Making the Third Step Prayer a consistent and meaningful practice creates a sacred space for spiritual connection. Whether it’s in the morning, during a lunch break, or before bedtime, find a time that works best for you.

4. Personalize the prayer

Adapt the Third Step Prayer to align with your beliefs and language. You can modify specific phrases or add your intentions to make the prayer more relatable and authentic to your spiritual journey. This personalization allows for a deeper connection and understanding of the prayer’s message.

5. Journaling

Enhance your connection with the Third Step Prayer by writing it down or reflecting on its meaning in a journal. Take the time to explore the prayer line by line, diving into its significance and how it relates to your life. Journaling provides a space for deeper introspection and strengthens the connection between your thoughts, emotions, and spiritual growth.


Exploring Different Ways to Connect with and Strengthen the Spiritual Aspect of Recovery

Meditation and Mindfulness: Incorporate meditation and mindfulness practices into your daily routine. These practices can help quiet the mind, increase self-awareness, and cultivate a deeper spiritual connection. Set aside dedicated time to engage in meditation or mindfulness exercises, allowing yourself to be present and open to spiritual guidance.

Nature and Solitude: Spend time in nature to enhance your spiritual experience. Take walks in the park, hike in the mountains, or sit in a quiet garden. The tranquility and beauty of nature can facilitate a connection with your higher power, creating a serene environment for deep contemplation and reflection.

Seek Support: Engage with a sponsor or spiritual advisor, or attend AA meetings to foster a supportive community and nurture your spiritual growth. Surrounding yourself with like-minded individuals can provide guidance, accountability, and encouragement in your recovery journey. In addition, sharing experiences and insights with others can deepen your understanding of the Third Step Prayer and its impact on your life.

Read Spiritual Literature: Explore books, articles, or religious texts that align with your beliefs and inspire spiritual contemplation. Engaging with spiritual literature can offer different perspectives, insights, and practices to enhance your understanding of your higher power and strengthen your spiritual connection.

Service to Others: Engage in acts of service and kindness, helping others in need. By extending a helping hand, you not only make a positive impact on others but also deepen your sense of purpose and connection to a higher power. In addition, serving others can be a powerful way to live out the principles of the Third Step Prayer and reinforce your commitment to a spiritual way of life.

Incorporating the Third Step Prayer into your daily life is a personal journey. It’s important to find what resonates with you and adapt these suggestions to suit your unique path to recovery and spiritual growth. Embrace the exploration, remain open to new experiences, and stay connected to your higher power as you integrate prayer into your daily routine.

The Benefits of the Third Step Prayer

The Third Step Prayer, a fundamental aspect of Alcoholics Anonymous (AA) and its 12-step program, significantly benefits personal growth and recovery.

The prayer profoundly impacts personal growth and recovery by instilling a transformative process. It prompts individuals to surrender their will to a higher power, which fosters self-reflection, self-acceptance, and personal development. Individuals cultivate humility, resilience, and the ability to relinquish control by acknowledging their limitations and placing trust in a higher power. This shift in mindset paves the way for profound transformation, empowering individuals to confront their addictive behaviors and embrace a life of sobriety.

One of the notable benefits of reciting the Third Step Prayer is the sense of peace, guidance, and support it brings to those in recovery. It is a constant reminder that they are not alone in their journey. By acknowledging the presence of a higher power and surrendering one’s will, individuals tap into a source of strength beyond their capabilities. This connection to a higher power provides comfort, reassurance, and a sense of purpose. Through the Third Step Prayer, individuals find solace in knowing that they are part of something greater, and they can rely on their higher power for guidance and support as they navigate the challenges of recovery.

Incorporating the Third Step Prayer into one’s daily life deepens the spiritual aspect of recovery and cultivates a profound sense of inner peace, trust, and alignment with a higher power. It offers a path to personal growth, healing, and long-lasting sobriety. As individuals continue to embrace the Third Step Prayer, they often discover a newfound serenity, a clearer sense of purpose, and an unwavering belief in their ability to overcome addiction. The prayer provides a sanctuary of peace, a compass for guidance, and a constant source of support on their journey to recovery and fulfilling life.


- SINCE 1999 -

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