For Addicts

Serenity

Nothing on this page is an official publication of Alcoholics Anonymous.

AA’s 12 Steps
Revised as a Confession of Sin

1. I confess I am powerless over alcohol (add other substances here) – that my life has become unmanageable
2. I believe that God can restore me to sanity
3. I decide to turn my will and my life over to the care of God
4. I make a searching and fearless moral inventory of myself
5. I admit to God, to myself and to another human being the exact nature of my wrongs
6. I am entirely ready to have God remove all these defects of character
7. I humbly ask God to remove my shortcomings
8. I make a list of all persons I have harmed, and am willing to make amends to them all
9. I make direct amends to such people wherever possible, except when to do so would injure them or others
10. I continue to take personal inventory and when I am wrong promptly admit it
11. I seek through prayer and meditation to improve my conscious contact with God, praying only for knowledge of God’s will for me and the power to carry that out
12. Having had a spiritual awakening as the result of these steps, I try to carry this message to other addicts, and to practice these principles in all my affairs.

Psalms of Recovery
Psalm 30

I will exalt you, O LORD,
because you have lifted me up *
and have not let my enemies triumph over me.
O LORD my God, I cried out to you, *
and you restored me to health.
You brought me up, O LORD, from the dead; *
you restored my life as I was going down to the grave.
Sing to the LORD, you servants of his; *
give thanks for the remembrance of his holiness.
For his wrath endures but the twinkling of an eye, *
his favor for a lifetime.
Weeping may spend the night, *
but joy comes in the morning.
While I felt secure, I said,
“I shall never be disturbed. *
You, LORD, with your favor, made me as strong as the mountains.”
Then you hid your face, *
and I was filled with fear.
I cried to you, O LORD; *
I pleaded with the Lord, saying,
“What profit is there in my blood, if I go down to the Pit? *
will the dust praise you or declare your faithfulness?
Hear, O LORD, and have mercy upon me; *
O LORD, be my helper.”
You have turned my wailing into dancing; *
you have put off my sack-cloth and clothed me with joy.
Therefore my heart sings to you without ceasing; *
O LORD my God, I will give you thanks for ever.

Psalm 116

I love the LORD, because the LORD has heard the voice of my supplication, *
and inclined an ear to me whenever I cried out.
The cords of death entangled me;
the grip of the grave took hold of me; *
I came to grief and sorrow.
Then I called upon the Name of the LORD: *
“O LORD, I pray you, save my life.”
Gracious is the LORD and righteous; *
our God is full of compassion.
The LORD watches over the innocent; *
I was brought very low, and the LORD helped me.
Turn again to your rest, O my soul. *
for the LORD has treated you well.
For you have rescued my life from death, *
my eyes from tears, and my feet from stumbling.
I will walk in the presence of the LORD *
in the land of the living.
I believed, even when I said,
“I have been brought very low.” *
In my distress I said, “No one can be trusted.”
How shall I repay you, O LORD, *
for all the good things you have done for me?
I will lift up the cup of salvation *
and call upon the Name of the LORD.
I will fulfill my vows to the LORD *
in the presence of all the chosen people.
Precious in your sight, O LORD, *
is the death of your servants.
O LORD, I am your servant; *
I am your servant and the child of your handmaid;
you have freed me from my bonds.
I will offer you the sacrifice of thanksgiving *
and call upon the Name of the LORD.
I will fulfill my vows to the LORD *
in the presence of all the people,
In the courts of the LORD’s house, *
in the midst of you, O Jerusalem.
Hallelujah!

Prayers for Alcoholics and Addicts
Written and compiled by Josh Thomas of dailyoffice.org

Original prayers marked by asterisk* are © Josh Thomas 2012, All Rights Reserved.

This means you! No copying and pasting or any other reproduction without prior permission. See our e-mail link on every page, “E-mail the Vicar.”

All other prayers come from the Book of Common Prayer (BCP) 1979.

For Those in Immediate Danger*
By Josh Thomas

Heavenly Father, save all in immediate danger due to addiction. We no longer trust ourselves or anyone else; but help us to trust you as our only way out. We beg for your help right now: to pick up the phone, to make the call, to let someone know, to admit the truth: that we have lost the war with alcohol and drugs. It is over, now, Lord, you are our last, best hope; our only one. We can’t even believe that you would stoop so low as to pick us up. Yet you are ever strong to save and eager to love us, despite our overwhelming sins and grief. Lord, by whatever means necessary, help us to surrender now to your loving power. Put aside our pride, heal our shame, calm our nerves, quiet our hearts and show us, O Lord of Power, that you will get us through this to new and better life, if only we are humble enough to ask in the Name of Jesus. Lord, we never knew we needed a Savior; but we do. Amen.

For Active Users*
By Josh Thomas

O Lord, I’m still drinking and drugging. I don’t enjoy it or get high anymore, and I do see the consequences of using in my body, my finances and my relationships; but I tell myself I’m not ready to quit, that I don’t know how, that I’ve failed before, that maybe I’m beyond hope. I know other people succeed, so why can’t I? Lord, in my heart of hearts, I know I’m just afraid. But fear overwhelms me, and meanwhile I need this stuff. What if I reach out to you and you’re not there? Help me listen to your answer, Lord, help me do the things I should; I know I can’t go on this way, but I’m scared. And there’s one other thing, Lord: we’re taught to be self-reliant, to stand on our own two feet. I’m not doing that, I’m barely crawling these days, but I don’t know what it means to let go and let God. Please work with me, Lord, while you still can. In Jesus’ name, Amen.

For Those Contemplating Suicide*
By Josh Thomas

Holy God, Giver of life, whose every creation is touched by beauty: Look with special favor on those in whom depression and loneliness have taken hold. Relieve them in your infinite mercy. Speak to them of your intimate love. Hold them in your bosom as a mother. Comfort them with the promise of contentment. Visit them in the person of new friends. Help them to ask for what they need; provide them with caring helpers and refresh them with possibilities. Save them, Lord, in their emergency, for our Savior and Messiah, a tempted man alone on a mountaintop, named Ya-hoshua, He Who Delivers. Amen.

On Fear*
By Josh Thomas
For the People of Crouse Hospital

Lord, what am I afraid of? Part of me is ready to give up my drinking habit; I know it doesn’t do me any good. It just gets me in a lot of trouble and I’m sick of it. But changing seems to scare me half to death, and I don’t even make sense to myself these days. It’s like I’ve got a monster hiding under the bed, but I’m not four years old anymore. I’ve stared down scary things before; why not this? I’m just afraid to change, you know; afraid to look at myself as I really am.

But God, you know what my issues are; you know why I drink. Please, Lord, shove me past this, so I can get sober and stay that way. You’re the one who casts out fear, so please, God, cut it loose from me. It’s all just revenge somehow against people who did me wrong. But they never say they’re sorry, and I’m the one who suffers. Whatever I set out to prove, let the game be over.

You’re the one to turn to, and you’re the one who saves. I call out from the depths of darkness, “Save me, Lord,” and every time, you’re here with me. Help me put my trust in you to get me out of this; I’ve done the best I could but it’s never been enough, so I need my Higher Power. Show me, Lord, how full life is on the other side of fear. Forgive my sins—help me forgive—and bring me to the light again. Amen.

On Hitting Rock Bottom in Jail*
By Josh Thomas
For Luke W.

Lord, an addict never changes until he hits rock bottom. It’s a combination of terror, shame and guilt – mostly terror. We’ve already sunk past being a liar and a thief, past feeling sorry for ourselves and blaming others for their wrongs. Suddenly we see the snapping jaws of death ready to devour us. That beast is thirsty for our blood, ravenous, a monster, slithering ever closer, and in this nightmare we can’t get up and run away. We know he’s going to get us any second now! That’s when we turn into beggars, “Save me, O God,” and miraculously, you do. It’s only a chemical that’s chasing us, not the nuclear Godzilla; only our deepest thoughts and feelings, and you can get us through them, if we will ask for help and not reject you. Bring us to sobriety, Lord, and keep us there; but never let us forget that utter terror. Amen.

Concerning Temptation*
By Josh Thomas

O God, you offer us heaven, but for years I’ve chosen hell; my way is alcohol, while your Way is love. Help me get free of my trap, Lord, and onto your path. When I lead my life, I head for self-destruction and death; when I submit to you and take your direction, I find myself headed for fulfillment. Quiet the voice of temptation and pride in me, Lord; help me stop rebelling against my one true Master Jesus Christ, who died for my sins. Fill me with your Spirit and keep me in your presence. I need your healing, Lord; I won’t survive without it, but you are mighty to save. Amen.

For Recovery of Health
(Book of Common Prayer, p. 458)

O God of heavenly powers, by the might of your command you drive away from our bodies all sickness and all infirmity: Be present in your goodness with your servant [N.], that (my) weakness may be banished and (my) strength restored; and that, (my) health being renewed, (I) may bless your holy Name; through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.

For Submitting to God’s Guidance
(BCP p. 833)

Almighty and eternal God, so draw our hearts to you, so guide our minds, so fill our imaginations, so control our wills, that we may be wholly yours, utterly dedicated unto you; and then use us, we pray, as you will, and always to your glory and the welfare of your people; through our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. Amen.

For Discerning God’s Will
(BCP p. 832, Guidance 2)

O God, by whom the meek are guided in judgment, and light rises up in darkness for the godly: Grant us, in all our doubts and uncertainties, the grace to ask what you would have us to do, that the Spirit of wisdom may save us from all false choices, and that in your light we may see light, and in your smooth path may not stumble; through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.

Thanksgiving for Recovery
(BCP p. 460)

O Lord, your compassions never fail and your mercies are new every morning: I give you thanks for giving me both relief from pain and hope of health renewed. Continue in me, I pray, the good work that you have begun; that I, daily increasing in bodily strength, may so order my life and conduct that I may always think and do those things that please you; through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.

For the Spirit of Giving and Service (Step 12)
(BCP p. 260)

Heavenly Father, whose blessed Son came not to be served but to serve: Bless all who, following in his steps, give themselves to the service of others; that with wisdom, patience, and courage, they may minister in his Name to the suffering, the friendless, and the needy; for the love of him who laid down his life for us, your Son our Savior Jesus Christ, who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, for ever and ever. Amen.

For Dependence on God Alone* (Steps 1, 2 and 3)
By Josh Thomas

I give myself over to your care and direction, O Lord. You are the One I trust, and you have been strong to save me. Help me respond to your love according to your will. You give the orders now, Lord, and I will take them, one day at a time. I am here to serve you and not myself; at your direction I will serve my fellow alcoholics and all others with whom I come in contact. You are a kind Master who gives me unlimited freedom; let me return again and again to ask what I can do for you. I have found in my new freedom that serving you is the greatest job a human being can ever have, as those who lose their lives for your sake will gain them in eternity. Thank you for every direction you give me; make me open more and more to hear your Word. Keep me from the sin of elevating my own desires instead of your Son Jesus, who now reigns on high with you and the Holy Spirit, one God in perfect fellowship. Amen.

For a Fearless Moral Inventory and Making Amends* (Steps 4, 5, 8 and 9)
By Josh Thomas

Give us grace, Good Lord, to make a fearless moral inventory of our faults, sins and offenses against you, our neighbors and ourselves. Give us the courage to be honest; give us resolve as we confront these painful truths. Make us mindful that recovery depends on the clarity and fullness of our thinking. And once we know our faults, O Lord, move us to take decisive action to rectify our mistakes, to ask for forgiveness of all whom we have harmed and to pay our every debt, except where to do so would cause a further harm; that at the last we may approach your divine majesty with our accounts and lives in balance; through Jesus Christ, who is ever quick to forgive and strong to save. Amen.

For Removal of Resentments*
By Josh Thomas

O Lord, forgive us our resentments, as we forgive those who keep old quarrels with us. Blot out distorted memories of those we thought had harmed us, for now we know we were not thinking. Help us let go of all angers and irritations, that we may find the grace to let you direct our lives. Make us humble, Lord, for we have learned that lives of self-propulsion inevitably end by running out of gas. Amen.

For the Spirit of Tolerance* (Step 12)
By Josh Thomas

Heavenly Father, you alone are the Judge of our souls: Help me to embrace with a spirit of tolerance all those I meet, knowing that however we differ in background, beliefs or conception of you, I am not their better; I am a lowly sinner whom you have saved from certain death. Help me to find what is good and holy and true in each human being I encounter, holding fast your Son’s teaching that I shall love the Lord my God and my neighbor as myself; with the aid and comfort of your Holy Spirit. Amen.

Prayer for Continued Recovery*
By Josh Thomas

Holy God, it has now been (period of time) since you began the miracle of recovery in my body, mind and spirit: Great is your power and holy is your Name. Continue that work today, Lord, and give me a meek heart with which to respond to your great love. Give me strength when I face temptation; give me power when I can do some good; give me joy in the gift of this new life; give me health that I may labor in your vineyard; and give me peace when work is done, that I may glorify your Son Jesus, who opens to me the gates of eternal life. Amen.

Prayer for Restoration of Families & Friendships*
By Josh Thomas

Holy God, you have knitted us together as solitary persons into families, and given us the gift of friends we love: help us to restore these relationships so dear to us. We did not wish to cause our loved ones harm, O Lord; but we made wrong choices willfully, and did cause hurts and disappointments. We neglected our responsibilities and got caught beyond our power to make things right. Now let us seek those spiritual repairs which grace alone enables; make us grateful for every hour spent with those we care for; and grant that we can be useful to them in sober joy, that we can be intimate once more; through Jesus Christ, the great forgiver. Amen.

For Growth in Fellowship* (Step 12)
By Josh Thomas

Lord, we know that in recovery, we can’t go it alone; we need people more than ever, for their wisdom, their guidance and their acceptance. You have given us a fellowship, as well as work to do; bless our meetings, that they may spread your healing power to encompass us with joy. Help us look after one another with sensitive care, avoiding all gossip and self-seeking, that we may yield with readiness to the Healer in our midst, your Son Jesus, our most blessed Savior. Amen.

For Restoring Finances & Career*
By Josh Thomas

Lord, I pretty much wrecked everything with my drinking and using. I plunged headlong down the path of separation that leads to death. I couldn’t stop myself, Lord; it took a miracle, when I had no right to even think of one. And then I cried, Lord, I can’t function without you; hear my prayer. To my amazement, you heard and understood, though I lay at the bottom of the mountain, torn and bleeding, half delirious. You picked me up and wiped my face and forgave my sin; then you sent me on my way, to do the same for others. So now I have a job, a calling, a career; I don’t know how to live, but I do know how to pick people up and wipe their faces. I ask you humbly for stronger muscles, more washcloths, and money for food and shelter; that in my new vocation I may learn to prosper over time, that I may share your abundance with those who need me. Let me be your servant, Lord; you’ve already given me my pay. Amen.

Prayer of Rejoicing
(BCP p. 451)

Now there is rejoicing in heaven; for you were lost, and are found; you were dead, and are now alive in Christ Jesus our Lord. Abide in peace. The Lord has put away all your sins.

Thanks be to God.++

31 Responses to For Addicts

  1. Dear Josh, Thank you so much for this offering–it´s profoundly touching to me–I crossposted to your ¨Addicts¨ and hopefully it ok–if not, I´ll take it right down but, as you, I have a very strong Episcopalian/Anglican following and I would like to be certain any who are still ¨struggling¨ or need ¨support¨ and ongoing ¨encouragement read your collection of prayers for our well-being. Gracias a Dios y tu.

    Leonardo Ricardo

    http://leonardoricardosanto.blogspot.com/2011/03/from-daily-office-prayers-for.html

    Like

    • josh says:

      I’m honored. The last thing I’d want you to do is take the link down. If the prayers are helpful to someone, then thanks be to God – and Leonardo.

      josh

      Like

  2. Ruth Rocchio says:

    Josh,
    while not a substance abuser I find your prayers very beautiful and helpful so have snarfed them onto a word doc. to slip in my prayer diary – hope that is okay. Addiction can be mental, no substances needed, and bad thoughts like bad drugs can drive one over the precipice. As our Buddhist brethren might say, the demons are “all in our heads.” While this may be true it is not very comforting! Your prayers, however, are very wise and clear. They are treasures. I have kept them with your name next to the ones you wrote. Thanks for the good heart!

    Like

    • Ruth Rocchio says:

      gee Josh I just realized you said to contact you before copying these – I did it for my own personal use, hope that is okay. Have emailed you – please accept my apology.

      Like

    • josh says:

      Thank you, Ruth. You are quite right that “addiction can be mental, no substances needed.”

      My spiritual director Marcia says we’re all addicted to something.

      The only reason for making a big deal about the copyright stuff is that I’m hoping someday to get a book out called “Prayers Online.” It would combine a few reflections about our site and blogs, and what they seem to say about mission and the Church’s future, with some of the prayers we’ve said and found useful. Last night someone wrote me to praise an old one that’s been offline for months, “For My Friend.” Somehow he found it, inserted his friend’s name where the N was, then sent it to the one he was thinking of – who wrote back, “I said the same prayer for you tonight, with your name where the N goes.”

      If they’re useful to people, I won’t deprive them of it; that’s why I’ve posted them online.

      I do need the money, though; unemployed, about to get married and become a stepfather to a 13-year-old girl. I don’t mind fending for myself, but kids change everything. So do husbands.

      Like

      • Ruth Rocchio says:

        Well then let’s get that book in print! I will be happy to support you and your new family by buying at least one copy, and it will likely be my pleasure to purchase more. so here’s a gentle PUSH to get that happening. I am a little slow with the digital age downloads of books but a hard copy would be wonderful to slip in my traveling prayer journal! Okay, give us a launch date….we will throw a virtual party!

        Like

  3. Ben says:

    Josh – As part of my twelfth step work, I plan to offer a copy of some of these prayers on small cards to individuals on those (sadly rare) occasions where discrete, one-on-one communications is called for and the prayer is appropriate.

    In order to not confuse or offend some I may substitute synonyms for words such as “miracle” or choose one of “drinking/drugging”.

    I ask your permission and offer you moral support for your book effort and any other efforts that carry your cross.

    May the peace of the Lord be with you.

    Like

    • josh says:

      Ben,

      I don’t mind your substituting a few words as seem most appropriate to you. But reproductions are exactly what I don’t want, so I ask you to hold off for awhile. Let me get these prayers into print. I have a right to them, and I highly doubt they’re going to save anyone’s life.

      If there’s one thing I know about addicts (and this is a compliment really), they will take anything useful that isn’t nailed down and send it all over the internet. Then they’ll change a word here and substitute there and soon I’ve lost all control of my original writing. They won’t attribute it to a human author, they’ll just copy and paste – because they “found it useful in their 12 Step work.”

      This is why there’s official AA literature and then there’s everything else.

      My writing is NOT official AA literature. And I claim copyright for it. Please do not reproduce it yet. Let it be published first, and always attributed, and then I’ll say yes, print up all the cards you want – with my name on them.

      Meanwhile if these prayers are useful, the smart thing, the ethical thing, is to link to this website. What should go on your cards is the URL.

      Let’s keep talking, and peace back at you,

      Josh Thomas

      Like

  4. Josh,

    This is a wonderful list of prayers! Thanks so much. I am privileged to be a member of Gethsemane Episcopal Church in Marion, IN and we are enjoying growth in our congregation. Been following this blog for a while. Thanks for it – I use it regularly!

    Like

  5. Micheal Sapp says:

    Josh,

    Thank you very much for this collection of recovery-related prayers.

    I was only looking for the Daily Office online when I discovered your blog- but, as a recovering addict, was delighted to find these prayers too!

    What a blessing! Thank you for your mission and your ministry.

    Like

    • josh says:

      Thank you, Michael. These prayers are part of our attempt to offer more than just the Office prayers. We moved this page here from our main site a few months ago; the blog allows for comments and reactions. The main site also has pages on other topics – Evangelism, for instance, and one called Quietness & God – which we’re slowly revising for migration as well.

      There are limits to what we can do online – we’re not a full-service church by any means – but obviously we could accomplish more with funding and a staff. So we’re working and praying to obtain those.

      josh

      Like

  6. Eliza Linley says:

    As a person in recovery, I went straight to these prayers; beautiful, and thank you for sharing them. Now get that book out!

    Like

  7. The Rev. Kate Day says:

    Hi, Josh: I’m a hospital chaplain, always on the lookout for resources that will help our patients. We have a 20-bed detox unit, and I am especially looking for resources for them. I would love to be able to give them a collection of your prayers. Or even just one or two of them — since they are actively de-toxing, they are often so ill that they can’t handle much. Please let me know what fair use we might make of your materials. We can pay — I actually have a budget! Many blessings — Kate Day (Syracuse, NY)

    Like

  8. Thank you for these prayers, Josh. I’m not an addict myself, but know what others have been through. I pray these prayers daily (or as close to it as possible), in the hopes that they get the help they need.

    Like

  9. Phil says:

    Thank you for these prayers. I just came across them as I prepared for Evening Prayers (often how God works, isn’t it?). I have been in the prison of porn addiction for years! ..on the perpetual roller-coaster — up, down, up…then down again. It’s like I lock myself in this prison by my own will. So frustrating.

    I have gone back to an old tradition that brought me much comfort and strength when I practiced as a Roman Catholic – saying the rosary. Now, I will add these prayers to my prayer ritual.

    Phil

    Like

  10. Barb F says:

    I didn’t realize that my full name would print on my comment. In respect for my husband and his autonomy I would appreciate your removal of my comment. Thank you. Barb F

    Like

  11. Monica says:

    What beautiful prayers, Josh! I’m a Catholic who came across this site while looking for Divine Office prayers, and I’m sure it was the Lord who led me here! I’ve prayed for many years for someone who struggles with addiction, and I can personally witness to the power of prayer. As Phil said earlier, the rosary is a wonderful prayer for all of us. It’s a powerful weapon against evil, as is the Divine Mercy Chaplet. I highly recommend it for bringing peace to chaotic situations. May God bless you and your loved ones and prosper the work of your hands.

    Like

    • josh says:

      This might be a small point in response to Phil and Monica, but I’ll make it: saying the rosary not only has spiritual benefits, it structures time. Therefore it can be helpful in that moment of panic, temptation and doubt, when a person’s almost grasping at straws to keep from using. Pick up the beads; you have to say 50 Hail Marys, 5 Our Fathers and more. It may be just what a person needs to calm themselves, get centered again and reconsider what was troubling them a few minutes earlier.

      My most memorable time of saying the rosary was years ago when my brother was in surgery to save his life. I couldn’t be there, too young, all I could do was wait at home and be scared to death. I picked up my beads and sat on the steps, saying the prayers one by one; even the repetitiveness of it helped. Yes, it’s the same words over and over, but the mind learns to perceive them a little differently each time; you may start out focusing on Mary, but soon enough you get to “pray for us sinners.” It’s wonderfully effective.

      My brother’s diseased, conjoined kidneys were successfully separated and 40 years later he’s still alive. God bless the Carle Clinic in Champaign, Illinois.

      josh

      Like

  12. Fr. George Holston says:

    Wonderful! I work with combat veterans struggling with PTSD and addiction. This will become a resource that I will pass on to my clients and students.

    Like

  13. Mr. Alexander Ogutuh Onyango says:

    I believe this will help me stop heavy drinking of alcohol and abusive language

    Like

  14. laura says:

    Thank you. Very beautiful and touching.

    Like

  15. Fr Phillip says:

    I just was introduced to these excellent prayers. My addiction is more “process” than substance. These prayers are good for those struggling with issues of their sexual orientation and sexual practices. Thank you for them.
    Fr. Phillip

    Like

  16. Cameron says:

    Dear Josh, 29 years sober here, and a long-time user of your morning and evening prayer sites. These are so valuable! I want to use them with all of my sponsees! Please print them soon! I’m sure that whoever did the 12 step prayer book would love to make an additional volume.

    Like

  17. joseph faulkner says:

    Thankyou…

    Like

  18. Sue B. says:

    Thank you, Josh, how wonderful these are. I didn’t see Psalm 30 that way (what have I missed !?!)– my recovery gratitude psalm is 116. Just wanted to share that right back to ya. Blessings, S.

    Liked by 1 person

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