1. In R.A.'s Multilith Big Book, on page 34, we are now at the last paragraph.
"When you are ready, say something like this: '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.' You have then completed step seven."
2. Now let's look at this closely. It says, "My Creator [GOD], I am now willing…" And this is the same willingness that we have been talking about in Step Six, "…that you should have all of me, good and bad." In other words, someone does not need to be perfect in order for God to enter his or her lives.
3. Most human beings are a mixture of good, bad, and indifferent. However, at this point someone doesn't have to let go of all of the things that may have been blocking their conscious contact with God. Someone is simply asking God to enter their lives, in spite of the fact that they still have a mixture of good and bad traits.
4. In the Seventh Step Prayer, it also says, "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." Now notice something very important that isn't there. In the prayer, after it says, "defect of character" there is no punctuation, no period, and no exclamation mark. It qualifies the request to remove "every single defect of character" by adding, "which stands in the way of my usefulness to you and my fellows."
5. In other words, if a character defect is not standing in the way of someone's usefulness to God and their fellows, they are not even asking God to remove it. Think about this for a moment. Many character defects are necessary for us to survive. If somebody had 100% of their fear removed they'd be dead in very short order. Someone needs fear in order to look both ways when they're crossing a busy street so they don't step out into traffic. They need fear to not jump out of an airplane without a parachute. People need fear to stay alive.
6. Someone also needs anger. Anger is sometimes very appropriate. Someone should be angry at injustice, for example. Other things that may qualify as character defects are a part of who someone is and each human being has them. The program is not designed to turn someone into an unfeeling robot. If someone had all of their character traits removed they'd wind up institutionalized, if not dead. So this prayer is not even asking for that.
7. In this prayer, someone is only asking for their character defects to be removed to the extent that they hinder their usefulness to God and the people around them. This is a lot simpler than expecting to be saints after this process.
8. Many people get hung up on this point. They think they have asked God to remove ALL of their character defects. Then someone will say something and they’ll get upset or angry or they’ll be afraid of something. Then they’ll think God didn't answer their prayer.
9. This prayer is not designed to turn someone into an unfeeling, unthinking robot. This prayer is simply asking God to remove the character defects which stand in the way of our usefulness to Him and the people around us. We are only asking God to remove the extremes of our normal behaviors.
10. In R.A. what we all have in common is that we carry normal behaviors to extremes that hurt others and ourselves. For example, every human being in the world has to drink. If they don't drink they're going to die. It is when they drink excessive amounts of alcohol that they hurt themselves and others. Nobody would want the desire to drink entirely removed. They could not survive. They only want the desire to drink large amounts of alcohol removed.
11. Let's look at food. Everybody needs to eat in order to live. If someone had the desire to eat entirely removed, they'd starve to death. It is only the extreme of that normal behavior, the overeating, that we ask God to remove.
12. Think about gambling. If somebody had the urge to take chances entirely removed from them, they'd never get out of bed, because everything in life requires taking a chance. Every time someone walks out of the house, and gets into a car, they are taking a chance.
13. It's only the extremes of these kinds of normal behaviors that this prayer is asking God to remove. For example, when someone's normal behavior is carried to an extreme and they drink large amounts of alcohol, or when they eat more than they need to maintain a healthy weight, when they mortgage the house or use their entire paycheck to take a chance, that is what we're asking God to remove. This is an important distinction.
14. This distinction is what everyone in R.A. has in common. We all have a spiritual malady that causes us to carry our normal human urges to the extremes that the program is designed to work on.
15. No matter what someone's problems or behaviors may be, they are just the symptoms of the spiritual malady we all have.
16. Of course the last part of this prayer says, "Grant me strength, as I go out from here, to do your bidding." In other words, the follow through with the decision we made in the Third Step to turn our will and our lives over to the care of God with complete abandon.
Please use R.A.'s Questions and Answers Forum to ask any questions or make any comments about any of this.