Step of the Month: 11 suggestions for prayers

11. Sought through prayer and meditation to improve our conscious contact with God, as we understood Him, praying only for knowledge of His will for us and the power to carry that out.

Step 11 tells us to inquire about and listen for God’s will. The Big Book tells us that “better men than we are using [prayer] constantly.” After all, if we are turning our will and our lives over to the care of God, we need some guidance about what to do during our day. That’s what prayer and mediation does for us.

Hear are 11 prayers suggested in our program literature and that we’ve heard about at meetings. Each of them has a different purpose and can be used at any time to help us either stay away from food or to discern the next right step to take.

  1. Help!
    The simplest of all possible prayers. Useful in any situation!
  2. Please keep me away from the first bite.
    Cutting right to the chase, and asking HP to relieve us of the obsession with food and from unthinking eating.
  3. The Serenity Prayer
    God, grant me the serenity
    to accept the things I cannot change
    courage to change the things I can,
    and wisdom to know the difference.
    Probably the first prayer we learn in OA, and one that’s especially useful when we feel ourselves ramping up emotionally into the fugue state that has always led us to the food.
  4. The Angry Man’s Prayer (Big Book, p 67)
    This is a sick man. How can I be helpful to him? God save me from being angry. Thy will be done.
    Resentment is one of the chief emotions that lead us to eating compulsively. Dealing with anger is hard, and many of us eat to escape it. But when we eat, we take the poison that we intend for someone else. This prayer can help defuse and diffuse our anger.
  5. The Fear Prayer (Big Book, p 68)
    Remove my fear and direct my attention toward what You would have me be.
    If we aren’t angry, then we’re afraid, and usually one comes with the other anyhow. This simple, fast prayer helps us pivot away from our down-sucking fear response to a situation and toward something more useful around us.
  6. The Third Step Prayer (Big Book, p 63)
    God, I offer myself to Thee–
    to build with me and 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!
    All twisted up inside? Don’t know what to do, but feel like everything’s going wrong? This prayer’s a gift in those situations. It reminds us of spiritual truths, of Who’s running the show, and that our job is to be of service to others, not ourselves.
  7. The Seventh Step Prayer (Big Book, p 76)
    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. 
    When character defects rear their ugly heads, this is the place to turn. In this prayer, we’re telling God that we want and ready to be changed by God. We’ve proven a million times over that we can’t change ourselves, and that’s why this prayer is vital to us.
  8. St. Francis’ Prayer (AA Twelve Steps and Twelve Traditions, p 99)
    Lord, make me a channel of Your peace;
    that where there is hatred, I may bring love;
    that where there is injury, I may bring the spirit of forgiveness;
    that where there is discord, I may bring harmony;
    that where there is error, I may bring truth;
    that where there is doubt, I may bring faith;
    that where there is despair, I may bring hope
    that where there are shadows I may bring light;
    that where there is sadness, I may bring joy.

    Lord, grant that I may seek rather
    to comfort rather than to be comforted 
    to understand rather than to be understood
    to be love rather than to be loved.
    For it is by self-forgetting that one finds.
    It is by forgiving that one is forgiven.
    It is by dying that one awakens to eternal life.

    A great one to start the day with because it helps guide us toward an altruistic helpfulness that we addicts don’t come by naturally. There are many different versions of this prayer floating around. Use the one that best helps you.

  9. God, I don’t know how you’re going to fix this one, but how can I be helpful?
    When things are getting complicated, this one keeps it simple. A great prayer for contentious business meetings….
  10. Please give me restraint of pen and tongue. (adapted from the AA’s Twelve Steps and Twelve Traditions, p 91)
    The chief rule of getting out of holes is to not start digging in the first place. That’s where this prayer comes in handy. Thinking you might be about to blow your stack at someone? Or maybe you’ve rapped out an angrygram but haven’t yet hit send? That’s where this prayer is most needed. It’ll save you from making amends later.
  11. Thy will, not mine, be done. (Big Book, p 85)
    Your mind tells you that you really want to do something. Your spirit is telling you otherwise, and you feel that tension keenly. Try this prayer, wait one minute, and see if things don’t clear up a bit.

There are hundreds, if not thousands, of prayers that work in the morning, at night, or anytime during the day. The key is to use them! Try these or any others that can help you in a pinch. Also, many of these prayers have alternative wordings, and you can adapt a prayer to your own situation or needs. The key is to use prayer in the first place. Try it, and it will soon become a habit you’re glad you picked up.