I never fully comprehended The Beauty of Prayer until about a year into my sobriety. I started waking up every morning before the sun to meditate. That was when I first began to realize how out of control and generally negative my mind was.
I remember how disturbed I was by this and how agonizing my morning meditation was. I figured after a couple months my mind would become still and quiet! That wasn’t the case, and I wondered what was wrong with me. After I brought it up to my Sponsor several times she finally asked me what prayer I said every night before going to sleep and which one I chanted during my meditation and during the day when I felt disturbed.
My initial reaction was “Um? prayer?” Up to that point I had been talking to my Higher Power in my head and doing what I thought praying was, but it was then my Sponsor helped me see I had mostly just been asking my God for more money, more peace, more patience, more “spiritual progress”, easier relationships? Basically everything except for asking the God of my understanding what I could do for Him and for other people beside myself.
I was using prayer to strive for perfection instead of how to be of more service. I had spent most of my life up to that point obsessed with trying to be perfect instead of being wholeheartedly in the present moment, in the unique person and place I am right now. I was always trying to get “somewhere else” and be “somebody better”.
So back to the prayer thing. My Sponsor told me to pick one or two prayers that I would say every single day. She said to pick a prayer that spoke of something I would like to become, and a prayer that reminded me of God. So I chose one that I would say in the morning right after I woke up, and a prayer I would say right before I went to sleep at night.
My morning prayer:
God, grant me the Serenity
To accept the things I cannot change,
Courage to change the things I can,
And Wisdom to know the difference.
Living one day at a time,
Enjoying one moment at a time,
Accepting hardship as the pathway to peace.
Taking, as He did, this sinful world as it is,
Not as I would have it.
Trusting that He will make all things right
if I surrender to His will.
That I may be reasonably happy in this life,
And supremely happy with Him forever in the next.
– Reinhold Niebuhr
I chose this prayer because the opening four lines are said at every AA meeting, and it basically embodies the way to peace. I know that the spiritual path of recovery is often challenging because it’s not always easy to face the truth and intense emotions. But like it says, hardship is the way to peace. I must accept who I am in this moment and who others are too, because I can’t control every aspect of life. But my God can… and I make it more enjoyable for myself when I surrender to the flow of my glorious life.
The prayer I read at night goes like this:
Lord, make me an instrument of your peace.
Where there is hatred, let me sow love;
where there is injury, pardon;
where there is doubt, faith;
where there is despair, hope;
where there is darkness, light;
and where there is sadness, joy.
O Divine Master, grant that I may not so much seek
to be consoled as to console;
to be understood as to understand;
to be loved as to love.
For it is in giving that we receive;
it is in pardoning that we are pardoned;
and it is in dying to self that we are born to eternal life.
– St Francis of Assisi
I mean… Wow. I still tear up sometimes just reading it. This prayer helps me because it reminds me to get out of my own selfish thoughts. At first I said, “Honestly, I think more about what other people are doing than about what I’m doing!” But I quickly realized that I was being selfish even when thinking of others… because most of the time when I was focusing on other people, I was being annoyed and wanting to change them to irritate me less.
This prayer says to me, “Hey, Katherine, wake up! This is God talking. We have created a beautiful life together, and you have no reason to fear because I am taking care of you. Know this, and be at peace. All is well. Go out into the world and be an example of my Love, so that others may see My Light through you.”
It’s a prayer of surrender for me… a surrender to the call of life.
I am doing my best every day to answer.
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