I came into recovery thinking I knew almost everything. I was a college graduate, was well read, and considered myself very intelligent. When I was newly sober, I read every recovery-based book I could get my hands on. I memorized the prayers I heard in AA and read the Big Book cover to cover, several times. I was determined to think my way into recovery.
I soon learned that my intellect was actually hindering my recovery. I needed to find the humility to say, “I don’t have all the answers.” I had to recognize that the addicts and alcoholics that came before me had developed a path that I could follow—if I was humble enough to admit my own path would eventually lead me back to the bottle.
Praying to My Concept of a Higher Power
There are many prayers I find helpful in recovery. It isn’t the words of each that make the difference, it is my willingness to give myself to a Higher Power. I struggled with the spirituality part of the program for a long time, hanging on to my resistance towards reconnecting with the God I grew up with. Instead, I used my AA group as my Higher Power until I could develop a concept of my own. Once I did, the prayers I had been saying suddenly took on a deeper meaning. One of the prayers that helped me the most was the Set Aside Prayer:
Please help me set aside everything I think I know
about myself, my disease, the 12 Steps,
and especially about you,
so I may have an open mind and a new experience
with all these things.
Please help me to see the truth.
Although the words differ minutely from version to version, the underlying concept is the same: What I think I know has no place in my recovery. It is only by turning myself over to my Higher Power that I will be shown the truth—about myself and about my sobriety.
Although the Set Aside Prayer is not among the most commonly recited prayers in the AA arsenal, I have found it one of the most important. It can be applied to virtually anything that involves my preconceived beliefs and opinions. When I abandon those beliefs and opinions and humbly ask my Higher Power for guidance and awareness, I am inevitably shown the right path. For an academic like me, however, turning away from those beliefs is often easier said than done.
An Open Mind and a New Experience
It is impossible to experience new things with a closed mind built upon arrogance and fear. When my mind is open to new possibilities, however, I can grow in my recovery. As mentioned earlier, this prayer can apply to all facets of my life—social relationships, work, family, and most importantly, my own spirituality. With my eyes open to the future instead of stuck in the past, I can forge a new path. It is on this path that I can humbly receive “the truth,” and it is with this truth that I can fortify my recovery.
A Prayer for Everyone in Recovery
It must be said that the Set Aside Prayer is not exclusively an AA prayer. It can equally be used by those who are sober without going to AA and by those who have no addiction problem at all. The prayer is meant to be a way to start a conversation with one’s Higher Power, whomever that may be, and to ask to for an enhanced level of awareness and understanding.
Although created for use within the AA program, its power is not limited to those who come into the rooms. Anyone willing to relinquish the beliefs and assumptions that have been holding them back can benefit from setting such things aside.