Meetings for Alcoholics Anonymous follow a certain protocol. It is helpful to maintain a similar routine throughout the different sectors all over the country. The predictability is helpful for members because it is comfortable and it gives a sense of control. All meetings begin and close with a prayer. A higher power is a prevalent theme throughout the AA 12 steps. The most commonly used prayer for the opening is the Serenity Prayer. The closing prayer is most commonly the Lord's Prayer.
What is the Lord's Prayer?
The Lord's Prayer is very common in Christianity. It is in the Bible in Matthew 6:9-13. If you are unfamiliar with the prayer, don't worry. You are not expected to know this prayer at your AA meeting. You can simply listen and follow along.
What to Expect
At the end of an AA meeting, the chairman will lead the group in a closing prayer. The group will stand up together and hold hands. This is completely optional. The gesture is what counts; holding hands and bonding with the people around you can help your recovery tremendously. These people are going through the same obstacles that you are facing, and you are merely uniting together and saying words of hope. But if you are uncomfortable with the prayer, sit it out; no one will judge you or force you to pray.
History of the Closing Prayer
The Lord's Prayer was commonly used in the Oxford Group and the development of AA. The founders of AA were connected to the Oxford Group which was a nondenominational group that dealt with the common foundation of all religion: to improve as an individual, thus changing the world around yourself. AA is very deeply rooted in spiritual faith and looking to a higher power for guidance and help. The Lord's Prayer is simply a way of acknowledging that divine element in your life.
Christianity in AA
It is not a requirement for AA members to be Christians. The closing prayer is a custom, and it helps bind the people in the room to one another. AA is a spiritual program, and many of the people who have found success attribute their achievements to God. But even if you are not Christian, the prayer can still hold deep meaning for you.
Set Aside Prayer
Instead of the Lord's Prayer, some meetings close with other prayer options that are not as overtly Christian, such as the Set Aside Prayer. It is more specific to AA and the 12 steps and includes, "Dear God, let me set aside everything I think I know about you, and me and this program, and these steps, for an open mind." This is an option for AA members who feel a bit uncomfortable with the more Christian prayers.
Step 7 Prayer
The Step 7 prayer focuses more on the idea of a higher power rather than God. This prayer is a powerful closer because it is about accepting yourself and releasing your addiction. The prayer includes, "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."
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