Today in my morning prayer time it hit me: One of the women that I sponsor is struggling and I thought, “She needs more prayer.” Things are not going her way, and she’s mad. I thought, “OK, how do I explain to her that it’s going to be a lot easier to surrender sooner rather than later.” Then I thought, “OK Diane, can you take your own advice?”
Note to me: More prayer.
It seems so obvious, but now I also know why the “Twelve and Twelve” says, “We should not be lax on this matter of prayer”. It is like that old juice commercial that reminds, “I could have had a V-8”. So often after struggling, musing, wondering and making myself miserable trying to control something, I think, “I could have prayed-or maybe prayed sooner.
Put prayer first.
Yesterday I had a cranky day. Not quite relaxed, not quite working, slightly bored even though there was plenty to do; it was just an off day. When I did my 10th step at night (I use the Ignatian Examen as my Step Ten format) I realized that I had skipped my morning prayer time, and from there the day was just unsettled. Note to me: Put prayer first.
Gratitude and Compassion.
I read this ages ago, and I keep a sticky note in my planner that says, “Pray for a grateful heart and a compassionate heart”. It’s a great piece of guidance and an all-purpose solution to things that bother me. Gratitude shifts my attitude. Gratitude reminds me of the good. Gratitude shows me that there is growth, change and recovery in my life when my feelings try to convince me otherwise.
A compassionate heart softens me. Compassion helps me to see other people- (even people who I think are bad or wrong)—are mostly broken or troubled people. And often they are broken or troubled I ways that I am too or that I have been. Having a compassionate heart slows me down. I am more inclined to practice “restraint of tongue and pen” when I have a compassionate heart.
But to get there: More prayer.
Years ago I thought that people who had years of recovery must be doing all the right things, all the time. But I don’t, we don’t. But we do have a couple of things that come with time. One is good recovery habits. So I pray each morning and I do a 10th step at night that closes with a prayer. If I skip either one I feel crummy, kind of like not brushing my teeth. So even if I’m rushed or even not feeling very sincere I’ll get on my knees and read the Third Step Prayer. I say the words out loud. Even if done without complete sincerity, it helps.
The other thing that people with long recovery have are stories. We have our own stories, but even better; we have other people’s stories too. If you go to meetings for lots of years you accumulate stories. So when times are hard I can lean into someone else’s story. I can recall what they said about the time when they prayed; or the time they yelled at God, and the time a prayer was answered in a miraculous way; or the time they let go of what they wanted and got something so better instead.
And each time what I remember is: More prayer.
Lots more on prayer and long-term recovery in the book, "Out of the Woods" published by Central Recovery Press.