AA’s Third Step Prayer Helps to Relieve Bondage of Self

Located on page 63 of the book “Alcoholics Anonymous” is a prayer known as AA’s Third Step Prayer. Although this prayer is only 63 words in length, those words carry a lot of significance for recovering alcoholics all over the world.

Alcoholics Anonymous’ Third Step Prayer begins with the words “God, I offer myself to thee”. These words have special relevance in regard to AA’s Third Step. The third of AA’s 12 Steps is about making a decision to turn one’s will and life over to the care of God, as he is understood.

Defining what is and is not God’s will is not always readily apparent. We are humans and often try to exert our own will. For those who are members of AA, by reading and reciting the Third Step Prayer, it can help to shed insight into living Step Three.

The second sentence of the Alcoholics Anonymous Third Step Prayer is very powerful. “Relieve me of the bondage of self, that I may better do Thy will”

While I have been a member of Alcoholics Anonymous for more than 12 years, it wasn’t until two years ago, that I began to embrace the Third Step Prayer, particularly the second sentence. At the time, I had recently experienced a relationship break up with a woman who had previously been a high school girlfriend. Our relationship reignited after seeing each other at a reunion and we spent several subsequent months dating.

Immediately upn our break up, I increased the number of AA meetings I was attending and became a regular attendee of a meeting that closed with Alcoholics Anonymous’ Third Step Prayer, in place of The Lord’s Prayer, which is most often used to close AA meetings in the West Hartford, Connecticut area.

Interestingly, members at that meeting remain seated while reciting the prayer. Personally, I prefer that format, as opposed to standing in a circle, holding hands. That is the usual method of closing meetings in my area.

Prior to attending that meeting, I had seen the Third Step Prayer in the Big Book and had read it aloud at meetings, but never really contemplated it. By reciting and thinking about the words in the prayer, it helped to provide awareness of better ways of dealing with situations.

Another saying that I have heard many variations on at AA meetings is “Don’t stay in your own brain, it’s a bad neighborhood”. This saying refers to some peoples’ tendency to dwell on issues, which almost always magnifies them.

By constantly dwelling on issues, one holds oneself in a sense of bondage. By accepting God’s will and reaching out and helping others, the sense of bondage can be relieved.

The message that I derive from Alcoholics Anonymous’ Third Step Prayer is one of hope. By offering oneself to God and trying to live his will instead of one’s own, it often has positive results. In the third sentence of the Alcoholics Anonymous Third Step Prayer, it asks for difficulties to be taken away, but it also states that victory over them may help one to help others.

Currently, I am on Step Two of Alcoholics Anonymous’ 12 Steps. The first time I did The Steps, more than a decade ago, I did them too quickly and never touched upon the Third Step Prayer. This time, I definitely see the Third Step as being one of the most important Steps and the Third Step Prayer figures prominently in my own Third Step agenda.

Sources :
Personal experience with the program of Alcoholics Anonymous