Prayer

I’m not big on prayer. I used to not pray at all, and I clearly remember desperate times early on in AA, driving, crying, praying because they told me to. Doing things because the people of AA told me to has saved my butt many times. In the beginning, I fell back on prayers I had memorized from repetition through the years, prayers like The Lord’s Prayer and The Apostle’s Creed. I remember reading somewhere in the literature how at times Bill W walked and prayed, repeating a prayer like the Serenity Prayer, for long periods of time in order to overcome serious depression.

At first in AA, I was even someone who would hold hands but not say the prayers. Somewhere along the line I got beaten down and softened up, and for many years now I have prayed along with meetings I attend. I pay attention to the prayer in the literature like the 11th step prayer. I sometimes reflexively pray, for instance, when I’m approaching work, and expecting a problem. My reflexive prayers are almost always gratitude lists – thank you God for this place and these people. Also a request that I be shown and have the courage to carry out God’s will and help all people I come into contact with that day. I do the same type of praying in times of big emotional distress. Gratitude and a request to do God’s will. Very rarely, I will make an actual request, but I always add the caveat, “if it’s Your will.”

Lately though, I’ve been rethinking and relooking at several aspects of the program, trying to go deeper, expand my recovery and relieve some pain. I’ve collected sayings, verses, poems, that kind of thing since I was a teenager, and it occurred to me recently that I can pray some new prayers. So many times AA people will respond to distress with the suggestion to “pray about it.” Praying about it, whatever it is, for me usually results in a gratitude list. So I looked online to try and find some new types of prayers to help me.

I have a binder at work that evokes painful memories. Yes, a binder. And being sad over such things is, I’m sure, more than half of my problem. Anyway I took the binder and printed out a few prayers that resonated for me. Now I try every day around lunch time to read one, and at any other time that I feel myself getting balled up.

Thursday I was having a harder time than usual, and as I was sitting in a particularly difficult meeting, I thought I would begin to write down a prayer. I wished that I had memorized a new one, but I hadn’t, and so I started to write down The Lord’s Prayer. I felt I was sitting too close to other people, though, nosy people who would read what I was writing and who would worry I’d gone around the bend. I went to my office to retrieve the binder, thinking I could sit there and read a prayer, but I decided others would notice that, too, and think it was very odd. And I really don’t want others there to know the depth of my angst. So after that meeting was done, I decided to start writing the prayers out long hand as a way of memorizing new ones. I’d like to have more at my mental disposal than the few I learned in childhood.

Here is one I’m trying to memorize:

If I speak in the tongues of men and angels, but have not love,
I have become sounding brass or a tinkling symbol.

And if I have prophecy and know all mysteries and
all knowledge, and if I have all faith so as to remove mountains,
but have not love, I am nothing.

And if I dole out all my goods, and
if I deliver my body that I may boast
but have not love, nothing I am profited.

Love is long suffering,
love is kind,
it is not jealous,
love does not boast,
it is not inflated.

It is not discourteous,
it is not selfish,
it is not irritable,
it does not enumerate the evil.

It does not rejoice over the wrong,
but rejoices in the truth

It covers all things, it has faith for all things,
it hopes in all things, it endures in all things.

Love never falls in ruins;
but whether prophecies, they will be abolished; or
tongues, they will cease; or
knowledge, it will be superseded.

For we know in part and we prophecy in part.

But when the perfect comes, the imperfect will be superseded.

When I was an infant,
I spoke as an infant, I reckoned as an infant;
when I became [an adult],
I abolished the things of the infant.

For now we see through a mirror in an enigma, but then face to face.
Now I know in part, but then I shall know
as also I was fully known.

But now remains faith, hope, love, these three;
but the greatest of these is love.

1 corinthians 13:1-13

I actually wrote out the last two lines and put them on my office door to remind myself every time I go through the door what it is that I am really called to do.

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