In this episode for March 19th, 2021, Lee and I discuss the role of prayer, how it works for them and some of the key prayers taught as part of the program of recovery.
"When I'm in my head I'm thinking about what I want, what I can get, or what I'm about to lose. But when I pray; when I align myself to this higher level of consciousness, I'm in a place of love and what I want to be in service to others and I think about how what I do impacts others. It's just a beautiful place to be."
Lee M. (01:12):
Good morning. I'm doing really well this morning. How are you?
Michael L. (01:15):
I'm doing well as well. What's going on today? What's on the agenda.
Lee M. (01:19):
Today is March 19th and it's you and I, and we're going to be talking about the daily reflection for today, which is prayer. That works
Michael L. (01:27):
Great. So well, how about I read the reflection and get us started? I think that's a great idea. All right. March 19th, prayer. It works. It has been well said that almost the only scoffers at prayer are those who never tried it enough, 12 steps and 12 traditions, page 97, having grown up in an agnostic household. I felt somewhat foolish when I first tried praying. I knew there was a higher power working in my life. How else was I staying sober? But I certainly wasn't convinced. He, she, it wanted to hear my prayers. People who had what I wanted said prayer was an important part of practicing the program. So I persevered with a commitment to daily prayer. I was amazed to find myself becoming more serene and comfortable with my place in the world. In other words, life became easier and less of a struggle. I'm still not sure who or what listens to my prayers, but I'd never stopped saying them for the simple reason that they work.
Lee M. (02:26):
Oh, that's so nice. And I can relate to it a lot also. So at the very top, it says it has been well said that almost the only scoffers at prayer are those who never tried it enough when you first came into recovery. Had you tried prayer?
Michael L. (02:39):
Yeah, I mean, my, my early experience with prayer was, was very different than today that has to do with my introduction to religion. And, you know, like many, I confused spirituality with religion and I didn't do these certain things that I was supposed to do that I would be punished. And it left me really negative about the whole experience of religion and spirituality. And, you know, when I first got sober, I initially bristled at the thought that I would have to accept this, this concept. Once again, my sponsor assured me that, you know, any previous conception of a higher power didn't have to, that didn't have to be what I thought of as a higher power going forward. And that I just had to have something more powerful than myself and my life. And with that in mind, I began to say the prayers that I was given in the program, you know, first starting with the third step prayer, uh, relieving me of the of self and, and, um, I didn't really, you know, I just, I just needed relief. So I just said the prayers and that's kind of how it began for me. Um, but what, what was your experience early on with prayer?
Lee M. (03:52):
So I was brought up Catholic and I had pretty much rejected that I did do some time and evangelical Christian churches and I was always a seeker. So I always wanted God and, and, um, but yet I was, I was drinking and using. So I really wasn't able to find much connection, um, until I got into recovery. But in early sobriety I was asked to pray. One of the very first things that I was asked to do was pray every morning and ask God to help me stay sober and then pray at night if I was able to stay sober that day and thank him for keeping me sober. So I started praying right away and in early recovery, those two prayers. And I honestly did not know if God was listening. I believed in God, but I didn't think that God believed in me anymore.
Lee M. (04:41):
And I didn't, I really didn't think God was listening to anything that I had to say. The only reason I was saying those prayers is because I was asked to do them and I stayed sober one day at a time later on I, there was a, there was actually a, there was a time sometime in my first year of sobriety where I was at a family event and people were drinking. And I remember kind of looking up and noticing wine glasses. And there were two people in particular that were drinking wine. And I, it was almost like I saw these wine glasses walking around my house. I was completely focused on the wine glasses and I was having an obsession of the mind I was at this event. And all I could think about was the wine. And I had a very powerful craving. I didn't know what to do.
Lee M. (05:23):
And I remember going to the freezer for ice to put in a glass of water and I opened up the freezer and I said a prayer in that moment I remembered, Oh, I should probably pray. And I said a prayer and I'd say, God, please take us obsession away. I cannot drink. I need help. And the next thing I remembered, I was at a meeting of alcoholics anonymous, realizing that I didn't ever think about those wine glasses again, and didn't pick up a drink. And that was my first kind of big awareness that I said a prayer and something changed. And that's kind of how my prayer life was in early recovery. I just forgot about it. And every now and then remembered, I should do it. I said the morning and the night prayer, cause I was asked to, but I did start to notice that whenever I prayed it, it did change something.
Michael L. (06:14):
I'm cognizant that people listening, not everyone listening is going to have the same introduction to religion and spirituality and these preconceived notions about, about what prayer is. So, you know, I think it might be helpful if we just provide a definition, just a real brief definition of what prayer is. Prayer is simply an invocation or act that seeks to activate a rapport with an object of worship through deliberate communication. So it's essentially just starting a conversation. It's an invocation of a rapport through deliberate communication. And I love that because it's super simple. You're just communicating with something. And I think if you come to recovery, if you come to a point where you're desperate, whether you believe that there's something or not, I believe that you can't do it on your own.
Lee M. (07:12):
The program tells us that we've got to find something greater than ourselves to help us with this mental obsession that we have this physical allergy and the spiritual malady. And it also tells us that it can be anything that, that something greater than us can be a group of drunks. It can be good, orderly direction. It can be the program of alcoholics anonymous. It can be a God of your understanding. And what we're talking about here is communication with whatever that is. And I think the program is about helping us find it. Like I don't know that we necessarily come into alcoholics anonymous with any notion of what that is. And even for those of us that thought we had a notion of what that was, it's going to change dramatically probably over time. And all we're doing is initiating some sort of, uh, uh, communication and relationship with that. I think it's in the asking and in the communication, in the form of prayer that we're calling it, that we do uncover what that is for us.
Michael L. (08:15):
Yeah. So if it's just communication for me, that means that I'm praying all throughout the day. You know, when I have a thought, you know, it could be a simple thought of gratitude, you know, thank God that's a prayer. Thank God for another day sober. It's a prayer when someone expresses concern for another and I tell them, I'm praying for them. I just prayed. I mean, it's just that simple for me. It doesn't have to be now, some people will say you have to get on your knees and it's gotta be, you know, in line with their certain practice. And that's, that's cool. I can I'll honor that, but uh, for me, it's super simple. So let's talk a little bit about our favorite prayers. Now you mentioned the third step prayer earlier. That's clearly one of the favorites. Do you want to say the third step prayer?
Lee M. (09:04):
Sure. It might be fun to pick a couple. So my favorite in early sobriety, um, and I said this prayer a hundred times a day all night. I mean, it got me through my first several years of sobriety was the third step prayer. And it goes like this, God, I offer myself to thee to build with me and do with me as they'll wilt relieve me of the of self that I might better do. Thy will take away my difficulties that victory over them may bear witness to those that I would help of thy power that I love and I way of life may I do that? I will always. Amen.
Michael L. (09:44):
Hmm. That's a great prayer. And you can find that on page 63 of our big book. It is a good one. I vividly remember memorizing that one on the way back and forth to my home group in Philadelphia, in early sobriety. Now another really good prayer. I find so valuable, especially when I'm wrapped around the axle, maybe because of relationships or somebody that I've encountered is a, I think it's referred to as the sick man's prayer. Have you heard of this one?
Lee M. (10:16):
I have, I love this career in my, I use it in my sponsees. Use it a lot as they move through their lives.
Michael L. (10:25):
Well, there's two parts. The first part is found on page 67 of the big book. I'll read it. This is a sick man. How can I be helpful to him? God saved me from being angry. Thy will be done pretty simple, but there's also a second part to this, which can be found on page one 41 of the 12 and 12. God help me to show this person the same tolerance, pity patients that I would cheerfully grant a sick friend. This is a sick person. How can I be helpful to him? God saved me from being angry that I will be done. And then
Lee M. (11:05):
I love this. I love that prayer, especially for those times where we feel, you know, self righteously, angry, like this person did this to me. And, you know, we're told in, in the program to go to prayer for the person that has done us harm.
Michael L. (11:22):
Yeah. And I think there's so many opportunities for that to, to be helpful, especially, I mean, even practicing the program, we are immersed in the world of recovery and we're all sick. We're all on some type of spectrum. And, uh, I just find that those, those simple prayer so valuable. What other prayers are your, are in your inventory of, of go-tos?
Lee M. (11:50):
Well, I love the 11th step prayer at the Saint prayer. And actually it's one that I've been relying on a lot in the last year or so. Um, which just reminds me that it's not about me all the time, you know, rather than worrying about what I'm getting, you know, what am I bringing? And, um, yeah, it's just been something I've been focusing on. So it's the Saint Francis prayer. Lord make me a channel of APS that where there is hatred, I may bring love that where there's wrong. I may bring the spirit of forgiveness that where there's discord. I may bring harmony that where there is error. I may bring truth that where there is doubt, I may bring faith and that where there is despair. I may bring hope that where there are shadows, I may bring light and where there is sadness. I may bring joy Lord grant that I may seek rather to comfort than to be comforted, to understand than to be understood to love than to be loved for. It is by self forgetting that one finds it is by forgiving that one has forgiven. It is by dying. Don't want to wakens to eternal life. Amen.
Michael L. (13:03):
Lee M. (13:06):
Yeah. It's a beautiful prayer and it, you know, especially the part, you know, may I seek rather to comfort than to be comforted because I think for me anyway, um, you know, still, even after a few years of recovery, it's, you know, it's easy for me to fall back on that, you know, what am I getting out of this? Um, or what am I not getting out of this? And it just reminds me that I need to, I need to be giving rather than worrying about what I'm getting. And this prayer helps bring me right back to where I need to be when I'm, when I'm feeling disturbed or stressed out, because somehow I'm being shorted. Something that I think I deserve.
Michael L. (13:44):
Right. Well, there's one more, maybe we'll cut. Touch on a couple more, but this one is one that can help you start your day out. This is called the morning prayer. God direct my thinking today, so that it'd be divorced of self-pity dishonesty, self-will self-seeking and fear. God inspire my thinking decisions and intuitions helped me to relax and take it easy, free me from doubt and indecision guide me through this day and show me my next step. God, give me what I need to take care of any problems. I ask all these things that I may be of maximum service to you and my fellow man in the name of the steps. So I pray. Amen.
Lee M. (14:29):
Hm. I love that. And you know, I'm glad you brought that prayer up because that, um, on pages 86 and 87, um, it, and it talks to us about literally how important prayer is. So at the bottom of 80, I'm sorry, at the bottom of 85, he says, uh, step 11 suggests prayer and meditation. We shouldn't be shy on this matter of prayer, better men than we and women and anyone, um, are using it constantly. It works. If we have the proper attitude and work at it, it would be easy to be vague about this matter yet. We believe we can make some definite and valuable suggestions. And so I feel like, you know, in, in this book that details the program of recovery for us, kind of exactly, as we should be doing it, they're saying we need to do it and don't be shy about it.
Lee M. (15:15):
And here's exactly how to do it. And he goes on, on page 86 to tell us that when we retire at night, we should review our day, you know, check ourselves or we resentful selfish, dishonest, or afraid, you know, what could we have done better? Could we have been more loving? And then he goes on to say, after we make our review, we ask God's forgiveness and inquire what corrective measures measures that should be taken. And then he gives us more details on what we should do when we wake up. And, you know, I think that if the program is telling us that this is what we need to do to stay sober, we need to do it. And I think who we're praying to is the least relevant part of it. It's the fact that we're willing to follow direction and we're willing to try to be better people. And we're putting out to the universe, the supplication of helped me be a better so that I can help others. And so that I can do your will, whatever that is. Um, which for sure it isn't to drink. Right.
Michael L. (16:16):
Mm Oh, I love that. I love it because, you know, I've kind of reinvented my, my thoughts about, you know, those things. And I used to think you had to supplicate you had to like fall in line with the, the dogma of a religion. Uh, just because they said it had to be that way. But I truly have found that when I do these things, when I pray, when I practice the principles, it's almost as though I am aligning my vibrational frequency with the universe. I am in alignment with the universe and I just get along. Like I just connect with people. And, you know, I first learned that concept from Russell brand. You know, he talks very much about the same, the principle of this vibrational frequency and man it's, you know, that to me, aligns to a natural occurrence, the universe has order. There is some higher power at play. And when I am a good person and these prayers help me become a good person, become a better person. I simply aligned with the universe and the structures that are in place. And, uh, I'm able to stay sober. I'm able to get along with people. I'm able to look people in the eye and that's a beautiful way to live. I don't know.
Lee M. (17:34):
I love what you're saying. And you know, what I'm thinking is that what it does is it takes our thought into a higher level of consciousness. Like when we're saying these prayers or thinking this way or whatever it is we're doing, we're our consciousness to more of a love place instead of a character defect or ego place. You know, when I'm in my head, I'm thinking about what I want, what I can get when I'm about to lose, you know, I'm making plans, I'm in ego. I'm worrying about what you think of me and what everyone else thinks of me. But when I'm saying prayers or trying to align myself with this universal energy that you're talking about, or that's higher level of consciousness, I'm in a place of love. And what I want to be is of service there. Um, when I'm in my head, I'm not trying to be of service.
Lee M. (18:30):
I'm, I'm trying to be of service to Lee. If I can think down into my heart, which is where I go, when I'm praying, then I'm more concerned with others and with how we're all one and how would I do impacts the world. It's just a beautiful place to be. You know, it's interesting what you said too, about being in alignment. You said something about vibrating at a frequency that is higher, I guess, is what you said. And when I'm vibrating at that frequency, I'm attracting to myself, all the other things that vibrate at that frequency, all of those things are good. So I think the more time I spend in prayer, vibrating at that higher frequency or being at a higher level of consciousness, I'm more in tune with all those things that are good in my life that I want. There's no lower level of, of frequency or vibration to me than being drunk. And then when I'm down there, I'm just attracting all the negative stuff.
Michael L. (19:31):
Thanks so much for sharing your thoughts on prayer. Anything else we need to let the audience know about?
Lee M. (19:37):
I think we need to say, keep it simple. Go to a meeting every day, get a sponsor, ask God in the morning, whatever God or no, no God, or does ask the university air to help you stay sober today. Thank the air for keeping me sober, call people in the program and don't worry about anything. Don't worry about anything. Just keep coming back and let this unfold for you. Just be open-minded follow some suggestions. One foot in front of the other one day at a time. Just don't drink today. No matter what and everything will be fine.
Michael L. (20:16):
Thanks everyone. Appreciate your support. If you want to find us online, you can follow us on Facebook at facebook.com/groups/daily reflection podcast, and find us on Twitter and Instagram at daily reflector. If you want to read about recovery, we've got a blog that's at blog dot daily reflection, podcast.com. Thanks everyone. Have a great day.