Set Aside Prayer
"God, 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 the strength, as I go out from here, to do Your bidding. Amen"
Steps six and seven are might seem very misleading in that in the Big Book the instructions are very simple. We’ve done much of the work on these steps in just identifying our defects in our inventories. If we haven’t identified our defects directly, we have them there indirectly. Understanding that our defects aren’t something that we can actually remove ourselves is something that I rejected for awhile. However, I couldn’t remove my resentments. I needed God to take them. My willingness to let God have them is what stood in my way.
We must be willing to do whatever is necessary to become willing to let God have our shortcomings. In my case, I needed to go to counseling and learn about codependency and forgiveness. I needed to learn how to re-parent myself in order to be ready to let go of my resentments to my parents and towards a child molester. I also needed counseling in order to get my head straight about relationships. But the main thing that I had to do first was to become willing to go to counseling in the first place. I had to take that leap of faith and wield my golf club when the storms of my emotions came and frightened me. I needed to become free of my resentments and anger.
I find that when I become less willing to do anything to overcome my defects, my program starts to struggle as well. So, I have to guard against losing my willingness to grow and change. These steps are so simply put, but aren’t simple to actually accomplish. Each of us are unique individuals and have so many different things to work on. That is why this step is so difficult to accomplish. I think it’s important to understand that the work required in step 6 and 7 can keep many people from recovering.
I ran across this definition of humility a long time ago in our 12 & 12 and have kept it with me ever since. “Humility is simply an awareness of who we really are today and a willingness to become all that we can be.”
I translate my definition of humility into humbly by saying, “Humbly is the act of being aware of who we really are today and a willingness to become all that we can be.”
The Big Book defines what the definition shouldn’t be of humbly on page 83. “We should be sensible, tactful, considerate and humble without be servile or scraping. As God’s people we stand on our own feet; we don’t crawl before anyone.” So, humble doesn’t mean to become someone’s doormat. It doesn’t mean making myself less than I am or degrading myself.
Bill W. the AA cofounder says: “A clear recognition of what and who we really are (the good and the bad), followed by a sincere attempt to become what we could be.”
It means a desire to seek and do God’s will as is manifested in the prayer. It means that we have to place principles before personalities as in the twelfth tradition.
Actions that accompany the seventh step prayer
Since humble has an element of action, we should discuss how that action manifests itself in this step. When we “humbly ask” in the seventh prayer we are not demanding or instructing God for our help. We are offering ourselves to God with both our assets and liabilities. We let God decide when and how to remove our liabilities so that we can be more useful to God and to this world. We have to realize that the removal of liabilities is not something that happens overnight. Well not for most of our liabilities, sometimes some are lifted right away.
We are learning a new way to live, a growing process that, at first, may seem awkward but keeps our recovery on track as long as we are willing to work our program daily.
The actions we’ve done that should accompany the seventh step prayer we have been doing already. For instance, with resentment, we have written a resentment inventory. We’ve shared it with our sponsor or trusted friend. We turn to God in prayer to remove our resentments and change our attitudes towards those we resent. We ask for patience, tolerance, and helpfulness towards those we are resentful towards. We avoid retaliation and argument.
For our fears, we listed them in our inventory and asked God to show us what he’d want us to be and then we act gradually towards that goal. We allow God to remove them in his time.
For our harms done to others that we wrote in our inventory, we wrote out our sexual and general conduct ideals and asked God to help us live up to them. We haven’t been able to live up to them and need God’s help to be able to do that as well.
The prayer and action are the essence of step seven. The following is how to work step seven in real time with the following liabilities of anger, self criticism, and guilt.
Anger is a feeling that arises and dissipates; whereas, resentment is a feeling that remains with me. Dealing with anger is somewhat similar to dealing with resentment except for writing an inventory. We turn to God in prayer to remove our anger and change our attitude into and attitude of tolerance, patience, and helpfulness. The actions we take after praying are to practice restraint. We avoid retaliation and argument.
The extent of the character defect (liability) usually escapes our awareness. We don’t realize how many times we criticize ourselves during a day. The first step is to become aware of it. One way I do that is to carry a small notebook around with me. Whenever I realize that I’m criticizing myself, I write it in the notebook. I turn to God and say the seventh step prayer or one like it. I practice self acceptance as a way to defeat my attitude towards myself of beating myself down or thinking that I’m a mistake. When I evaluate the situation, I accept myself as I am – a slightly imperfect human being. This program doesn’t demand perfection only progress. My evaluation helps me figure out any necessary steps I need to make to correct my mistakes. When I share with my sponsor, I commit to him my plan and share with him how I’m progressing until it is finished.
When I do something wrong my first reaction is usually to react with some of my liabilities, like remorse or anger or even self-criticism. Not necessarily guilt. Guilt is usually something that I feel when I do what is right for me, but I don't have enough self worth to accept that I have the right to do it, or that I am worth it or deserve it. It can be a feeling of guilt I get when I take care of myself like buying something for myself, or doing something that benefits me and is not connected to others, or setting boundaries and not letting others walk all over me.
I use the best friend criterion, when evaluating my guilt. Supposing my best friend was in the same situation. Would I advise him to do what I did? If the answer is yes, then I did the right thing, and I feel guilty because of lack of self worth. This means that I feel that I don't deserve to be good to myself or to care for myself.
If this is the case, then I should use my little notebook. I take it out preferably in real time and write down what I did and why it was the right thing to do. Use the best friend criterion to help you in writing it down. Then write down what are the customs and prejudices of other people that you took upon yourself that made you feel guilty. A simple example: You are a mother of a small child. You have a babysitter sit with your small child and go to see a movie with your husband or friends. Then you feel guilty because you think you should have stayed and taken care of your child. When using the best friend criterion, you ask the following; If your best friend was in the same situation of working all day and needed some time to relax, would you have told her to take a babysitter and go see a movie? If the answer is yes then your feeling of guilt is because of lack of self worth. You don't think you are important enough to take care of yourself. What are the prejudices of others that you have taken on yourself? ~ that a good mother does not leave her small child with a babysitter, even if she needs to relax. She always stays home with her child and cares for him herself.
Guilt and remorse because of harm done to others is dealt with by repairing the damage that we have done. We do this in step nine.
The words Humble, Humbly, Humbling and Humility appear in the following pages of the Big Book. 12, 13, 57, 59, 63, 72, 73, 83, 568(third edition), 566(fourth edition) Copy the paragraphs that contain those words. After reading the paragraphs carefully. Write what actions are implied by those words. Do you understand them now differently than you did before working the program?
Write a personal assets list as explained in this share. If you find it difficult to find or recognize your assets ask some people who know you well to tell you what are the assets they see in you and add those to your list, if you are convinced that you have them. They should tell you only your assets and not your liabilities.
Read or send in email your liabilities list to your sponsor and then read the seventh step prayer aloud to him. That is the way to begin working step seven according to the Big Book.
Begin having some fun in life. You deserve it. Do the following: Write a list of all the pleasant/exciting activities that you like. It can be as simple as going to a movie or spending an hour with yourself, or reading a nice book or dancing, or listening to music, or watching the sunset, etc… Choose activities that are not dependent on the participation of others, though they can be activities in which others participate.
Choose a different activity from your list each week and decide to do it. Determine a date place and time and just do it. Don't find last minute excuses postponing it. After a while you may choose two different activities a week, we don't want to indulge ourselves too much. What happens is that you get excited planning the activity, you are exited doing it and you get excited remembering it. Those activities will leave you feeling good about yourself, since they are acts of self-care and self-love.
Chose three of you most prominent liabilities and work step seven on them as explained in this share. Do it together with your sponsor.
READINESS TO MOVE ON
The Big Book only has this simple criterion. If you read your liabilities (character defects) to your sponsor and then read the seventh step prayer aloud to him, you are ready to move to step eight.
Seventh Step Prayer
“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 big book tells us that after we say the seventh step prayer "We have then completed step seven." That is not that this is all there is to it, but that we should not wait and begin immediately with step Eight. We don't wait for our liabilities to lessen or disappear since this is a life long project. We continue working step seven on a daily basis and begin immediately with step Eight.