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Alcoholics Anonymous
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Spiritual or Religious?

This article is written by nationally recognized historian and oft-quoted Alcoholics Anonymous archivist Mitchell K.

Dateline: 03/11/98

Due to the overwhelming and somewhat lively response to the question of using the so-called "Lord's Prayer," or "Our Father" at meetings, we would again like to submit the following article from the Central Bulletin of Cleveland, Ohio.

This, first in a series of articles on the Lord's Prayer, was published in February 1944. The Central Bulletin was AA's first newsletter and within its pages are to be found some of the best writing's ever relating to recovery from alcoholism.

In Alcoholics Anonymous we often find ourselves caught up in the debate concerning Spirituality vs Religion or over concerning ourselves in so-called "New Age" mysticism. We also appear at times to get lost in the psychobabble one often hears at meetings.

This writer would like to offer this article from a time in AA history when many in Alcoholics Anonymous kept it simple.

"Our Father…"

These are crucial words. Of all the words of the most universal of all prayers, these two words are of greatest importance to us.

In uttering them, we turn to a Power greater than our own. We turn from complete reliance upon our own egotistical natures, from exaggerated self love and self exaltation. We confess that our efforts to run our entire lives in our own willful way have led to error, frustration, defeat, failure. We admit that the self justification that resulted from our errors has only deepened our defeat.

Even when we have seen the depth of our failure, the folly of self justification and the pitfalls of egotism, we have discovered that our efforts to re-establish ourselves solely through will power have led to more stumbling. Our wills, as one writer has observed, are where we are sickest.

So we, out of desperation turn to the sure Power that has always existed and make that Power the rock upon which we will rebuild our lives.

Many of us had long since lapsed in belief in any Supreme Power. Most of us had not addressed ourselves to that Power for many years, except, perhaps, in an occasional desperate moment.

In the realization of the position in which we have found ourselves, we come to a crossroads. We may continue to rely upon our sick wills and our erring judgements, which so often speak the words of justification. Our experience should show us what the result of following along that path may be.

The Other Path

Most of us find it better to choose the other path. Certainly all who have succeeded in application of the AA program have found this other path better. We turn from our selves to anchor our lives on something outside. Preferably, we anchor our lives to that something outside that we consider greater than ourselves, and eventually, we recognize that something as being the Supreme Power.
We bring that Supreme Power into our lives, and by so doing, we lift ourselves up. We think of that Supreme Power in our own terms, but we know that the realm of that Power is of realm of the Good, where the spirit may find peace.

With these words, Our Father, we address ourselves to the Supreme Power. In the morning when we get up to prepare for the day's work; in the evening when we retire and think for a few moments about our actions during the day that has just past, we place ourselves in the presence of that Supreme Power with the words, Our Father.

When occasion arises during the day, when we are sorely tempted, when we are angry, when we are resentful, when we pity ourselves, when we feel frustrated or worried, we can shift gears and connect ourselves with the Supreme Power by uttering the words, Our Father. There we will find help.

More will be revealed…

Mitchell K.

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