“Humbly asked Him to remove our shortcomings.”
1. You are now going to formally go through the Seventh Step by following the "clear-cut directions" in R.A.'s Multilith Big Book.
2. There is a progression from Step Four through Step Seven.
3. Step Four is a search for our defects of character. Step Five has us admit the exact nature of these defects of character to God, to ourselves, and to another human being. In Step Six we become ready to let God remove these defects of character, instead of trying to remove them ourselves.
4. Step Seven is where, with humility, we will actually ask God to remove these defects of character.
5. In R.A.'s Multilith Big Book, on page 34, the bottom paragraph contains the complete discussion of the Seventh Step from the Big Book. It says:
“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.'”
6. This is known as the Seventh Step Prayer. Please notice two very important things in the prayer. The first is that it says, I am willing that you should now have "all of me, good and bad." We don't have to be perfect. We ask Him to accept us, both the GOOD and the BAD.
7. The second thing of note is that it 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."
8. What it says is that if a character defect doesn't stand in the way of our usefulness to God and our fellows, we're still going to have it. We're not even asking to have it removed in its entirety. That would be an unreasonable demand of God. We need to trust that we're going to have the harmful extreme removed to the extent that God chooses. Asking for more is unreasonable.
9. Fear can be a character defect. However, it's sometimes instinctive to be afraid. For example, someone would have to be insane not to be afraid of jumping out of an airplane without a parachute or of trying to cross an expressway during rush hour. These fears are a normal part of our natural, instinctive drive for self-preservation.
10. Anger is also a character defect. But it's also sometimes natural to get angry or resentful. These can be understandable reactions when somebody does something to hurt us.
11. We can have a whole range of emotions that are natural and instinctive.
12. It is when we get SO angry or SO resentful that we hurt others or ourselves, that we stand in the way of our usefulness to God and our fellows. It is only the harmful EXTREMES of all of the defects of character that we find objectionable, that we are asking God to remove in this step.
13. One of R.A.'s members shares:
"It was important for me to realize that the program works on the harmful extremes of my behavior. I now know that I'm always going to be human and have human emotions. I now see that I'm occasionally going to get angry, and resentful, and fearful, but no longer to the extreme that it hinders my usefulness to God and my fellows."
14. Many people fall short of their expectations of this step because they think that after they have taken it, they should be totally free of all anger, resentment, and fear. It doesn't work that way. That is not the purpose of Step Seven.
15. If R.A. allowed you to believe that by formally going through the Sixth and Seventh Steps that you would suddenly be free of your anger and resentment, etc., within a very short time you'd find yourself getting very angry and resentful at US, because that isn't what this Step is supposed to do.
16. In R.A.'s Multilith Big Book, on page 38, in the fifth paragraph, starting with the sixth line of the paragraph, it says:
“Continue to watch for selfishness, dishonesty, resentment, and fear. When these crop up, we ask God at once to remove them.”
17. That quote is part of the Tenth Step. It tells us that these defects will crop up. We're always going to have them. But, as the result of this program, we finally can allow ourselves to feel, because we know our emotions are not going to be carried to a destructive extreme. As long as we work the entire program, as long as we continue on the path by working our Tenth, Eleventh, and Twelfth Steps, we will not hurt others or ourselves again. We will realize that God is doing for us what we could not do for ourselves.
18. In the 12 & 12, on page 108, starting at the end of the thirteenth line from the top of the page, it says:
“Then, in Step Seven, we humbly asked God to remove our shortcomings such as He could or would under the conditions of the day we asked.”
19. This step, like all the others, calls for an attitude change demonstrated by a willingness to go from saying “No, never!” to “yes” or “maybe.”
20. Please open R.A.'s Step Presentation Workbook to page 16 and look at the box labeled Step Seven on R.A.'S STEP WORKSHEET “A.”
21. You may now be convinced that you can't live exclusively by your own individual strength and intelligence, that you do need a working faith in a Higher Power.
a. If you are convinced, then circle “yes.”
b. If you believe that maybe someday, even if it's five or ten years from now, you will need to have a working faith, then circle “maybe.”
c. If you are convinced that you can live exclusively by your own individual strength and intelligence, then circle “no.”
22. In a few minutes we are going to say the Seventh Step prayer we just read from the bottom of page 34 in R.A.'s Multilith Big Book. When we do, will you be able to say it with humility, requesting of God that His will, not yours be done?
a. If you will be able to say it with humility, then circle “yes.”
b. If you can say that maybe, someday, you might be willing to accept His will, then circle “maybe.”
c. If you still demand that God do it your way, then circle “no.”
23. If you have circled “no,” please consider the limitations imposed by holding onto your old attitudes. Perhaps you can recognize that you don't need to be perfect, that you don't need to rely on your own individual strength. R.A.'s experience has shown us that making unreasonable demands does not lead to peace and serenity. Perhaps you can then change from saying “no,” to “yes” or “maybe.”
24. Even if you are still circling the “no,” please continue on with R.A.'s Step Presentation. Please recognize that the steps DO produce results.
25. Please keep R.A.'s Step Presentation Workbook open to the page with the list of character defects that we are going to ask to be removed. If you are reading or listening to this with other people, would those who wish to, please join hands for the Seventh Step prayer from the bottom of page 34 in R.A.'s Multilith Big Book.
26. We are going to pause for a moment of silent prayer. During this time each of us should ask God to remove the defects of character of all the others present. We will then say the Seventh Step prayer, one line at a time, asking for our own defects of character to be removed.
27. If you are reading or listening to this with other people, would those who desire to do so, please join hands. Then repeat after me, one line at a time, the Seventh Step prayer from the bottom of page 34 in R.A.'s Multilith Big Book.
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.
28. “You have [now] completed STEP SEVEN.”
29. We have read every word, followed every instruction. This process has, hopefully, induced an attitude change demonstrated by going from saying “No, never!” to “yes” or “maybe.” We are willing to move on. That is all this Step requires.
30. Even if you haven't been able to circle “yes” or “maybe,” please continue on with us. At some point, going through the rest of the steps may help you come to realize that since your life depends on it, you will need to have that attitude change; and perhaps working on the rest of the steps of this program, as best you can, will bring about that attitude change.
31. Please remember, in order for what you have done so far to have the desired result, you do need to continue on with the rest of the Steps. It takes all of the Steps to produce all of the results.
32. Next, we suggest that you keep following Dr. Bob's example, and, if possible, immediately continue on by formally going through Step Eight.
Please use R.A.'s Questions and Answers Forum to ask any questions or make any comments about any of this.