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At a meeting I participated in this morning we discussed Alcoholics Anonymous’ 11th step which focuses on seeking God through prayer and meditation.  The text we used  to guide our discussion was Twelve Steps and Twelve Traditions (Anonymous, 1981). Here are the main points that came out of our reading and discussion:

  • Prayer is more than asking God for specific things or for asking our prayers to be answered “our way” (p. 102)
  • Instead we need to ask for knowledge of His will and the power to carry it out. Actually, the text said to use this simple request whenever decisions need to be made:  “Thy will, not mine, be done.” (p. 103)
  • Several individuals discussed the importance of starting and closing your day with prayer—-as well as praying throughout the day whenever needed.
  • A couple of individuals stressed that different people have different ways of praying—-that the important thing is that you pray and ask for God’s will to be done.

I didn’t share it with the group, but the discussion reminded me of a story a friend once told me. It seems that at a particular time in this friend’s life, she was having trouble turning things over to a Higher Power and letting God’s will “run the show.” The friend shared that her sponsor instructed her to repeat the phrase, “Thy will, not mine, be done”  in her mind every time she walked through a door. After about a week of doing this, my friend found herself automatically considering God’s will whenever a problem arose and whenever she prayed. It sounds too simple, but sometimes it is the simple things that work.

The meeting highlights offer important guidelines, but perhaps the chapter’s closing paragraph best summarizes the “why” of prayer:

“Perhaps one of the greatest rewards of mediation and prayer is the sense of belonging that comes to us. We no longer live in a completely hostile world. We are no longer lost and frightened and purposeless. The moment we catch even a glimpse of God’s will, the moment we begin to see truth, justice, and love as the real and eternal things in life we are no longer deeply disturbed by all the seeming evidence to the contrary that surrounds us in purely human affairs. We know that God lovingly watches over us. We know that when we turn to Him, all will be well with us, here and hereafter.” (p. 105)

I can’t top that “closing”—-so I won’t try. Please comment and share your ideas about praying—-what works for you and would be helpful to the rest of us. Thank you! God bless and keep you.