11th Step Prayer
For this week, I have chosen the topic of the 11th Step Prayer. I say the Third, Seventh and Eleventh Step prayers every morning before I get out of bed. Doing something daily runs the risk of becoming rote for me. A few weeks ago I was thinking about the word “principles” in How It Works, and the thought came that actions that show our program principles are described in this Eleventh Step Prayer.
This prayer is, of course, also known as the St. Francis of Assisi prayer. In our AA literature, it is on page 99 of the 12 & 12.
Lord, make me a channel of thy peace —
that where there is hatred, I may bring love —
that where there is wrong, I may bring the spirit of forgiveness —
that where there is discord, I may bring harmony —
that where there is error, I may bring truth —
that where there is doubt, I may bring faith —
that where there is despair, I may bring hope —
that where there are shadows, I may bring light —
that where there is sadness, I may bring joy.
Lord, grant that I may seek rather
to comfort, than to be comforted —
to understand, than to be understood —
to love, than to be loved.
For it is by self-forgetting that one finds.
It is by forgiving that one is forgiven.
It is by dying that one awakens to Eternal Life.
I have heard it said that this step may be worked by everyone, newcomers. We may pray and meditate at every point in our recovery; there is no need to wait until we get to Step 11! Thinking about the meaning of this prayer is a form of meditation. Breathe deeply and think about each phrase. . .
I would like to know how you have put this prayer into practice and what were your results. Is there a way that you have found to bring love where there is hatred? forgiveness where there is wrong? harmony where there is discord? truth where there is error? faith where there is doubt? hope where there is despair? light where there are shadows? joy where there is sadness?
How has it worked when you have tried comforting someone rather than seeking your own comfort? understanding someone else before seeking to be understood? loving another rather than seeking love from someone else?
I do find myself — my truest self, the way my Creator creates me to be every day of my life — in self-forgetting. Forgiveness works in this paradoxical way of forgiving myself and working to forgiving others; in forgiving them I’m better able to accept, tolerate, and forgive my own humanness. I don’t know about Eternal Life — I’m not there yet!
From the bottom of page 101 of the 12 & 12: And let’s always remember that meditation is in reality intensely practical. One of its first fruits is emotional balance. With it we can broaden and deepen the channel between ourselves and God as we understand God.