I’ve compiled a list of third step prayers I’ve encountered over the years. They come from many different sources: Dr. Bob, Clarence S., the AA & NA traditions, Native American, Christian, Buddhist, Wiccan, Eastern Orthodox, Jewish, Baha’i, even a Universalist version.
I offer this list to sponsees when they struggle with placing some element of their life in the care of God, when they resist offering God (as they understand the divine mystery) ALL of who they are. While it is certainly not an exhaustive list, I believe members of the recovery family can discover among this sampling a new perspective, a new way of seeing.
What I found so interesting about these prayers is this: whenever I study what other people have prayed in the past, my current prayer life grows in richness and strength.
Read each of these prayers carefully. Seek to understand what is meant by We made a decision to turn our will and our life over to the care of God as we understood Him.
Throughout, I’ve included quotes from Rumi, one of the great poet-mystics. I hope his words and the associated images are as inspiring for you as they have been for me these many years…
Third Step Prayer (Alcoholics Anonymous)
God, I offer myself to Thee
To build with me & to 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 & Thy way of life.
May I do Thy will always!
Third Step Prayer (Narcotics Anonymous)
Take my will & my life,
Guide me in my recovery,
Show me how to live.
Native American Third Step Prayer
Oh Great Spirit whose voice in the winds I hear,
And whose breath gives life to all the world-
Before you I come
One of your many children.
I am small & weak.
Your strength & wisdom I need.
Let me walk in beauty & make my eyes ever behold the sunset.
Make my heart respect all You have made,
& my ears sharp to hear Your voice.
Make me wise that I may know all You have taught my people,
The lessons You have hidden in every rock.
I seek strength, not to be superior to my brother,
but to fight my greatest enemy – myself.
Make me ready to stand before You with clean & straight eyes,
So when life fades as the fading sunset,
may my spirit stand before You without shame.
Third Step Prayer (Jewish)
Grant me inner peace…, Let my body be completely subordinate to my soul & have no other will or desire but to follow the desire of the holy soul, which is to do Your will. Let peace reign between my soul & my body. Let my body be sanctified & purified until it becomes united with the holy soul & I carry out all Your commandments & do everything You want of me, body & soul, willingly & with great joy.
Let my body & soul unite in love & peace to do Your will sincerely, until I attain complete inner harmony & am ready to order my prayer before You perfectly. Let my prayer rise before You like the incense & perfect sacrifices offered by those who are whole & perfect.
Third Step Prayer (Dr. Bob)
I’m sorry about the mess I’ve made of my life. I want to turn away from all the wrong things I’ve ever done and all the wrong things I’ve ever been. Please forgive me for it all. I know You have the power to change my life and can turn me into a winner. Thank You, God for getting my attention long enough to interest me in trying it Your way. God, please take over the management of my life and everything about me. I am making this conscious decision to turn my will and my life over to Your care and am asking You to please take over all parts of my life. Please, God, move into my heart. However You do it is Your business, but make Yourself real inside me and fill my awful emptiness. Fill me with your love and Holy Spirit and make me know Your will for me. And now, God, help Yourself to me and keep on doing it. I’m not sure I want You to, but do it anyhow. I rejoice that I am now a part of Your people, that my uncertainty is gone forever, and that You now have control of my will and my life. Thank You and I praise Your name.
Third Step Prayer (Clarence S.)
I ask that you guide and direct me, and that I have decided to turn my life and will over to you. To serve You and to dedicate my life to You. I thank you Lord, I believe that if I ask this in prayer, I shall receive what I have asked for. Thank you God.
Prayer of Abandonment to God’s Will
Father, I abandon myself into Your hands; do with me what you will.Whatever You may do, I thank You; I am ready for all, I accept all. Let only Your will be done in me, and in all Your creatures – I wish no more than this, O Lord. Into your hands I commend my soul; I offer it to You with all the love of my heart, for I love You, Lord, and so need to give myself, to surrender myself into Your hands, without reserve, and without reserve, and with boundless confidence, for You are my Father.
-Charles de Foucauld
An Atheist/ Agnostic Third Step Prayer
I surrender my life and my will to the Universe, in order to be built into a recovered addict and to be rendered useful to other addicts and to the Universe. I release to the Universe the bondage of self, that I may better understand my purpose and act on it. I release to the Universe my difficulties, so I can live the program and share my story with addicts who still suffer–using the power, the unconditional love, and the recovered life that a personal relationship with an HP provides. I joyfully surrender today, knowing the sanity and serenity a HP-driven life brings.
Life With Hope
I have tried to control the uncontrollable for far too long.
I acknowledge that my life is unmanageable.
I ask for your care and guidance.
Grant me honesty, courage, humility, and serenity,
to face that which keeps me from you and others.
I give this life to you to do with as you will.
Eastern Orthodox (Christian)
grant me to greet the coming day in peace, help me in all things to rely upon your holy will. In every hour of the day reveal your will to me. Bless my dealings with all who surround me. Teach me to treat all that comes to throughout the day with peace of soul and with firm conviction that your will governs all. In all my deeds and words, guide my thoughts and feelings. In unforeseen events, let me not forget that all are sent by you. Teach me to act firmly and wisely, without embittering and embarrassing others. Give me strength to bear the fatigue of the coming day with all that it shall bring. Direct my will, teach me to pray. And you, yourself, pray in me.
I know the Laws of Nature are you, Lady.
Keep me mindful that I step upon Your Body,
with your feet,
that my sorrows are Your sorrows,
and that a healthy priest makes all things sound.
I feel Your breath in the wind, and Your hand in mine.
Keep me sincere.
Give me Your work,
which is to be joyous,
and to tend all things, because all things live, of themselves,
and with Your spirit.Your will through mine, so mote it be.
With every breath I take today,
I vow to be awake;
And every step I take,
I vow to take with a grateful heart–
So I may see with eyes of love
into the hearts of all I meet,
To ease their burden when I can
And touch them with a smile of peace
I take refuge in the Buddha, Dharma, and Sangha
Until I attain Enlightenment.
By merit accumulations from practicing generosity and the other perfections
May I attain Enlightenment, for the benefit of all sentient beings.
O my God and my Master! I am Thy servant and the son of Thy servant. I have risen from my couch at this dawntide when the Daystar of Thy oneness hath shone forth from the Dayspring of Thy will, and hath shed its radiance upon the whole world, according to what had been ordained in the Books of Thy Decree.
Praise be unto Thee, O my God, that we have wakened to the splendors of the light of Thy knowledge. Send down, then, upon us, O my Lord, what will enable us to dispense with anyone but Thee, and will rid us of all attachment to aught except Thyself. Write down, moreover, for me, and for such as are dear to me, and for my kindred, man and woman alike, the good of this world and the world to come. Keep us safe, then, through Thine unfailing protection, O Thou the Beloved of the entire creation and the Desire of the whole universe, from them whom Thou hast made to be the manifestations of the Evil Whisperer, who whisper in men’s breasts. Potent art Thou to do Thy pleasure. Thou art, verily, the Almighty, the Help in Peril, the Self-Subsisting.
Bless Thou, O Lord my God, Him Whom Thou hast set over Thy most excellent Titles, and through Whom Thou hast divided between the godly and the wicked, and graciously aid us to do what Thou lovest and desirest. Bless Thou, moreover, O my God, them Who are Thy Words and Thy Letters, and them who have set their faces towards Thee, and turned unto Thy face, and hearkened to Thy Call. Thou art, truly, the Lord and King of all men, and art potent over all things.
Unitarian / Universalist Prayer
I know little of who you are. I know little of your plan. I can understand only specks of your power. I cannot begin to comprehend all of what you are. But this I know. You do not give love, you are love. You do not project beauty, you are beauty. You do not allow hope, you are hope. You do not lend strength, you are strength. All that is good is your gift. All that is bad is the consequence of man s attempt to reject or mold you. The solutions to my problems, my fears, and my shame are all found in you.
All things I wish to be come from my desire to be closer to you. I see you every time I see the light shining through a tree. I see you every time a sunset or mountain vista takes my breath away. I hear you ever time I open myself to the wonder of life. I feel you every time my heart fills with joy and love. I doubt you only when I allow fear, and greed, and selfishness to assume the power to control me. I know that if I allow you in my life I feel peace. When I embrace you I feel love. When I seek you I find strength.
Father, show me the way to serenity so that I may be of help to others. Show me the way to responsibility so that I may give to others.
Mother, show me the path to compassion so that I may comfort others. Show me the path to healing so I may help others heal themselves.
Grandfather, show me the road to wisdom so that I may teach others. Show me the road to strength so that I may carry others until they can carry themselves.
Grandmother, show me how to feel love so that I may love others. Show me forgiveness so that I may forgive myself and others.
God, help me remove the blinders of self-will. Help me see what is true. Teach me so that I can be of service. Free me from fear, from hate, from greed, from discontent so that I may contribute myself to your work. Allow me to see what you would have me do and grant me the strength to follow through. Without you I am empty. With you at my side I am whole.
And a final version from Sally Atari, the music artist and Christian singer who has been an active member of AA for a very long time:
–I offer myself to you: I give up on running the show… I give up on playing God in my life…. I’m done running the show! Please, You be the director… the boss, the father I long for….
-Build with me, Do with me…what ever you think is best! Because You know what’s best for me! You know me better than I know me!
-Relieve me of the bondage… of my best thinking which isn’t and never has been enough!
–Take away my difficulties…change me…transform and recreate me…Do this for me and for those around me!
–That others will see your power …. That others will see the victory I’m having over my defects because of your power… that others will see the victory in my life now that I have taken step one… I admit it that I need you, Step two- asking that you would help my unbelief – help me believe more!
So they can see your power, your love, and your way of life…In my new behaviors and through me!
–May I do Thy will always… My way didn’t work… My way got me in a mess… I’m ready to try something else… Your way…. Thy will be done!
These are some of the variations that I have seen and each one has broadened and deepened my understanding and appreciation of the first, the original, and some might say the best. You can personalize each (or none — write your own!). Whatever you choose to do, simply make sure that the ideas are the same and you’ll be praying IN THE SPIRIT of Step Three.