Third Step Prayer Ideas - Addiction Rehab Blog
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Step 3 Prayer AA

Third Step Prayer Ideas

Third Step Prayer Ideas

The third step of twelve-step programs is one in which we work on turning our will over to a higher power in our lives. The third step prayer is a popular one, and helpful to remind ourselves of our deeper intentions. The third step reads:

Made a decision to turn our will and our lives our to the care of God as we understood Him.

As with the other steps, this is not one just to be read. We have to make some effort, investigate for ourselves what this means, and practice it. Part of putting this into practice for many people is reciting a 3rd step prayer regularly. This helps us connect with this intention over and over again, practice humility, and be open to a new way of living.

third step prayerTraditional 3rd Step Prayer

The traditional third step prayer comes from Alcoholics Anonymous, and may be found on page 63 of the Big Book. It reads:

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.

This is definitely the most common prayer used when practicing the third step, as it is rooted in and found in the original twelve-step program. People around the world have been using this prayer for over fifty years, and it seems to work well for many.

Third Step Prayer Alternatives

There are many alternatives to the traditional third step prayer, and we can even craft our own. Dr. Bob offered a great prayer for the third step that I’ve always loved:

Dear God, 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. Amen

This is a rather long one, but super honest and humble. I also really like the one offered by Clarence:

Lord, 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. Amen.

For those that don’t have a strong connection or belief in a god, there are other options too. There’s a Buddhist third step prayer that reads:

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.

Finally, there’s the “prayer” often used by atheistic and agnostic groups in twelve-step:

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.

Creating Your Own Prayer

When I was newly sober, my sponsor had me write my own version of the 3rd step prayer as a practice. I found it really useful, and it helped me connect with my higher power on a deep and personal level. Here are a few thoughts on creating your own prayer.

    1. First, consider your basic intention. Generally, the intention of the third step in twelve-step programs is to work on humility and giving ourselves over to a new way of living. It can be good to get a clear intention written down to start.
    2. Now, begin with a few clear goals off that basic intention. Good ideas are starting with humility, surrender, and turning yourself over. Make a simple list of three or four goals for your prayer. My goals were to give up my old thinking/way of living, to be open to a new way to behave, and to have some trust that there is a better way to live.
    3. Finally, craft those few goals into a concrete prayer. Mess around with the wording, try to say it out loud, and see what feels right!
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