I memorized the Third Step prayer in preparation for taking the Third Step with my sponsor. We got down on our knees together, held hands, and repeated the prayer. As I listened to the prayer come out of my mouth I realized I didn’t believe a word I was saying. It felt like I had my fingers crossed behind my back. I shared this with Larry. He suggested I say the prayer anyways because it pleases God when we pray.
My prayers for most of the next twenty years have been “thank you” prayers. Just after switching off the light next to my bed, I close my eyes and say, “Thank you God for a beautiful day.” Saying the prayer became ingrained. I recall one night ten or fifteen years ago. That day my wife underwent a major surgery. She survived the surgery, but it was a difficult day filled with tension. I got into bed exhausted, turned out the light and said my thank you prayer. A voice in my head said, “how can you say it has been a beautiful day?” Another voice responded, “I don’t know how I can say it, but I can. Now shut up and go to sleep!”
I’m coming to believe every thought is a prayer and every prayer is answered. Every thought is either a recovery thought or a relapse thought. I’m no longer baffled on the days when life goes sideways. I know I’m allowing self-centered thoughts to run my head. These fearful, angry and selfish thoughts separate me from you and God. The only solution I’ve found for thinking about me is to think about you. Fortunately, I have a whole toolbox full of tools to help me reconnect. I get to a meeting. I talk with another alcoholic about what’s going on. I pick up the phone and call a couple of newcomers. Sometimes I need to pray for the willingness to take these actions.
My primary Eleventh Step practice today is hiking alone in nature with my cell phone turned off. My senses come alive when I am out on the trails in the midst of raw beauty. I hear the sounds of the birds and the critters rustling in the underbrush. I see the hawks wafting overhead looking for dinner. I smell the heady fragrance of the native plant life. I feel my heart pounding inside my chest after a taxing uphill climb. I become aware I am connected to all there is. This, to me, is conscious contact.