Big Book Recovery

Working the 12 Step Programme

Step Seven

Humbly asked Him to remove our shortcomings
Reading: page 76

We said the prayer that is given in the book, p76, on our knees (that is, humbly).  This need not be done with the sponsor and can be done the moment that the willingness required is there, which could be the same afternoon as finishing the Fifth Step. So the prayer is:

“ 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.”

The Big Book says that once we have finished saying the words of the prayer, “We have now completed step seven” {p76}. It is as simple as that!

Therefore we do not take this step daily and do not need to say the Step Seven prayer daily. An indication that Steps Six and Seven are a recommitment to go further with the program is given by the statement, on page 76, that after we have completed Step Seven, “Now we need more action, without which we find that ‘Faith without works is dead’ ” Of course, we can never finish the job of doing those “works”, but those are covered by steps 10, 11, 12. Step Seven requires an action and once we have taken it by reading the prayer we have completed the step. The perfect practice of Steps 10, 11 and 12 is an ideal which none of us has ever achieved. The best we can claim for ourselves is that we trying and we are making progress.

Note: it might have happened, but we are not aware of anyone experiencing that their defects of character are completely removed as a result of this. It’s not what the prayer requests anyway. It asks not that God remove all defects of character so that we may be comfortable. It asks that God remove our defects only insofar as our usefulness to others is improved. We have experienced, however, that provided we take regular inventory, the resentments and self-centered fears caused by the defects will go and with God’s help we find it easier to “do the right thing”.

We learn how to follow the dictates of a Higher Power rather than the dictates of our self-centered will. We note that this step requires us to acknowledge that we are good and bad. We are responsible for our actions. We cannot blame wrongdoing or resentments on alcoholism. They occur in us because of the defects of character. We are not powerless over our defects of character. But we do keep falling short of our ideals because we are not saints. We make progress, not perfection, in this area by trying to do what is right. One of the joys of the program is to admit our wrong doing and to discover that despite this, we are forgiven and we feel loved by God. This is what happened after Step Five and happens after our daily Step 10s.

Also, we find that to judge ourselves as humble is difficult, for it is an act of pride. We find that the easiest thing is to let our sponsors decide. If our sponsors are encouraging us to go on with the program then we can take it that he or she considers us to have sufficient humility to take this step. This step does provide each of us with an ideal of humility to aim for. It is described in Bill’s Story. We believe with Bill W that the attitude to aim for is one that matches his realization described on page 13 that, “of myself I am nothing, that without Him I was lost”. The prayer asks God to accept us, both “good and bad”. Many of us feel that an indication of the required humility is in attributing what is bad to ourselves, and what is good to God. If we take responsibility for our defective nature and the bad actions, resentments and fears that result, we will take moral inventory daily. On the other side, we attribute anything good in us to God. So, if we do something good in the day, we don’t take the credit but put it down on our gratitude list in the evening and thank God for giving us the grace to do it.

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