The following is my seventh entry in a series about the 12-step spiritual program of recovery.
Step 7: “Humbly asked Him to remove our shortcomings.”
Step 7 is found in Chapter 6 (Into Action), page 76, second paragraph of The Big Book of Alcoholics Anonymous. “When ready, we say something like this: 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. We have now completed Step 7.”
In Step 6 we became willing to have God remove all of our “defects of character” that are blocking us from the sunlight of the spirit. In Step 7, we actually ask God to do so. Step 7 is the beginning of a deep and powerful decision and commitment to change from the old child of fear to the new Child of God. Notice that the Step 7 prayer seeks nothing for ourselves other than to be “useful” to God and others. This is a profound concept for the addicted mentality. The addicted mentality is based on fear and threat which constrains it to think only of what it can get for itself. If you have done a thorough Step 4 you have become aware that, mostly, selfishness has been your reaction to life. This is the natural reaction for any being that feels so deeply threatened by people and the world. This self-seeking is the cause of the destruction we create in our lives and why we seem to end up with what we don’t want instead of what we truly desire. Thus, in essence, we have made selfishness our false God by believing it has the power and ability to make us happy, peaceful, and content. The hard part of Step 7 is overcoming our ingrained belief that self-seeking is the one and only way to get what we want in life. Now, in Step 7, we are correcting our error and turning our gaze from a false god to the True God we found in Step 3.
As in Step 6, the literature suggest that we may be ready to do this step directly after Step 5 when we have experienced what it feels like to live in the nearness of our creator (see previous blog on Step 6). Thus, many do Step 6 and 7 virtually concurrently. If we find we are ready and willing in Step 6 then we move directly into Step 7 reciting the Step 7 prayer (or prayer of similar concept) with solemnity and depth of feeling.
How do I know if I did step 7?
You actually asked to have all your defects of character removed by humbly, and solemnly, saying the Step 7 prayer or a prayer of similar concept. You truly and deeply want to live life as a Child of God instead of the child of fear and selfishness.
How should I feel after doing step 7?
You may feel solemn at making such a profound decision and commitment. You may feel a sense of power flowing deep within. As with Step 6, some may be a little fearful and doubtful because they feel they are being asked to move into the unknown. No matter how you feel, it is time to go to the next step.
Next we will do Step 8.
David Saffold is a Professional Life Coach and student at the Estuary. He has been helping people use the 12 step spiritual program to recover from alcohol and drug addiction for over 25 years.