When I first read through Step 11, I thought “I’m not going to do that.” I remember thinking there’s no way I’ll be able to sit still long enough to meditate, and having a Higher Power wasn’t a priority because I was in such dismay and pain. Honestly, I just wasn’t in the mood to deal with it at the moment. Like many, I was a pretty angry person throughout treatment and didn’t have the coping skills to deal with life. So when I heard I would get to a point where I would be praying and meditating, I scoffed at the idea.
I tell people early in the program that one of the two things I wish I had started earlier in my recovery process is prayer. The other being a daily gratitude list of at least 10 things I am grateful for. Addiction is a disease centered in the mind and a disease of perception. The gratitude list helps change the perception of situations to where I no longer focus on the negative, but rather find the positive in EVERY situation no matter how “negative” it may seem. Changing my perception of situations helps keep me sober so I’m not turning back to substances to cope.
I didn’t personally start praying daily on my own until I was about 18 months into sobriety. After my sponsor overdosed and I needed to find a new one, something finally sank in about God and the importance of establishing a conscious contact with a Higher Power. It occurred to me I needed to activate this part of my program regularly. I wake up every morning with untreated alcoholism, and The Big Book says there will come a time when nothing stands between me and that next drink, except a conscious contact with a Higher Power. That’s why it’s so important to establish that through prayer or mediation when you’re getting your day started in the morning.
I came up with my own prayer that I felt suited me and my lifestyle because I wanted it to be more personal to feel more connected with God. I complete my morning routine, then before I head to work, I recite the same prayer:
Let me be of maximum service to the next sick and suffering alcoholic.
Please keep me at peace and serenity as I go throughout my day.
Please keep me sober as I go throughout my day.
Thy will, not mine, be done.
As The Big Book says, by reciting my own prayer every morning and striving to put others first, I am able to “be divorced from self-pity, dishonest or self-seeking motives.” I go about my day trying my best to do the next right thing and feeling good about the work I do by making myself available to help others. If someone needs a favor, I’m there if possible. When I stand up from praying, I feel lighter and say, “Ok, let’s have a good day.”