Praying Outside of the House

Praying Outside of the House

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One of the practical tools I have found most helpful in recovery, particularly as a method of working Step 11, has been setting aside time to pray outside of my house during the day. I have worked remotely since the start of COVID lockdowns in 2020, so I am often able to get away, doing so to houses of worship near my home. I have also done so in parks, airport chapels, or in lobbies or waiting rooms when out and about. My favorite places to go are places of worship where there are kneeling cushions available, since kneelers provide me with a physical representation of my powerlessness before God. (I have actually got one in my home if I am unable to get away from work.) Regardless of where I pray, I notice a distinct positive difference in my day after I do so. By contrast, on days when I do not get outside to pray, I note that I am often more “restless, irritable, and discontent” (AA xxviii).

What do I do when I pray? I start out by taking 10 deep breaths, to try to get physically present. Then I take a short inventory of what I am feeling (fear, resentment, gratitude, etc.) and surrender these feelings to God. I then ask him what he would have me be, and look for inspiration to take my next best step (AA 86). Sometimes I am struck by the clarity of my thinking when I create space for it in the course of a day. “Oh, that’s why I am so fearful/selfish/resentful towards him – I am afraid that he may be right!” Other times I simply get the gift of presence and peace through a quiet moment. I end with 10 more deep breaths before leaving my place of prayer. I will often call a recovery member afterward to surrender things that came up.

For me, this pattern of prayer has been an important form of my Step 11 practice. I have prayed with my wife at times as well, and have been struck by how connecting those experiences can be, even without words being exchanged between us. I am grateful both for this Step, and also for finding a way to practice it which brings together my recovery and my daily life. It works when I work it!

James H., South Carolina, USA

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