After we take the preceding step of becoming willing to let our Creator take all of our defects of character, step 7 directs us to take the action of asking our Higher Power to remove them. It is in moving from the hopeful place of willingness, to the humble, faithful place of action, that step 7 takes hold.
The seventh step prayer, found on page 76 of the big book of Alcoholics Anonymous reads: “My Creator, I am now willing that You should have all of me, good and bad. I pray that You now remove from me every single defect of character which stands in the way of my usefulness to You and my fellows. Grant me strength, as I go out from here to do Your bidding. Amen.”
The seventh step prayer, as it was explained to me, is a continuation of the third step prayer, found on page 63 of the big book. The third step prayer opens a channel of communication with our Higher Power wherein we offer ourselves over to our Higher Power, for It to do with us as It will. We ask for release from the “bondage of self,” or from our selfishness, so that we can better be of service to God and world about us. The seventh step prayer acknowledges that there are several layers of self-will (or several types of character defects) that block us from “the sunlight of the Spirit.”
One of my favorite things about this prayer, this tool in my spiritual toolkit, is that it is written in present tense. As such, any time I experience some crippling character defects creeping in, I can give them over to God and ask for inspiration on how to proceed. So, when that old thinking crops up causing me to feel fearful, self-seeking, self-pitying, angry, lazy or the like, I can call on my Higher Power to remove the defects of character and give me strength to take the next right action (just the opposite of what I feel like doing). Time and again, this action of surrendering my difficulties over to my Higher Power saves the day.
I will close by sharing a hidden gem that can be found on page 68 of the big book, known as the fear prayer: “We ask Him to remove our fear and direct our attention to what He would have us be. At once, we commence to outgrow fear.” The simplicity and effectiveness of this tool has allowed me to walk through situations that would have terrified me, with grace and ease, and it has helped me to reach out to newcomers who are feeling even more frightened and alone. By simply taking the action of surrendering my self-centered fears, I can realize my real purpose, “to be of maximum service to God and the people about us.” (Alcoholics Anonymous p77)
By Sara L.