Prayers for recovering alcoholics


This page features the latest version of my litany for recovery. Although this is based around my personal religious/spiritual beliefs, it may be adapted as required.


This is followed by other prayers that have been selected as being especially suitable for recovering alcoholics.


All of these prayers may be adapted to suit your individual spiritual beliefs and God as you understand Him.



A litany for recovery
(incorporating specific prayers for steps 1-12)


The collect for purity *


Almighty God,

to whom all hearts are open,

all desires known,

and from whom no secrets are hidden;

cleanse the thoughts of our hearts

by the inspiration of your Holy Spirit,

so that we may truly love you

and worthily praise your holy name;

through our Saviour, Jesus Christ.





The Kyries*


Lord, have mercy.

Christ, have mercy.

Lord, have mercy.



Steps 1-3


Dear God, I am powerless over many things
and my life is unmanageable
but I know that you alone can restore me to sanity.


Please take over my will and my life
from this day forth and for ever more


I have many defects of character,

some are plain to me,

some escape me

and some I can not face.


Please remove all of these defects

so I that may better serve you

and live to glorify your name.



Confession (Steps 4-5) #


Merciful God,

I have sinned

in what I have thought and said,

in the wrong I have done

and in the good I have not done.

I have sinned in ignorance:

I have sinned in weakness:

I have sinned through my own deliberate fault.


[Specific confessions are made here]


I am truly sorry.

I repent and turn to you.

Forgive me, for my Saviour Christ's sake,

and renew my life to the glory of your name.



Steps 6-7


I have many defects of character,

some are plain to me,

some escape me

and some I can not face.


Please remove all of these defects

so I that may better serve you

and live to glorify your name.



Steps 8-9


Help me to remember those whom I have harmed,
and become willing to make amends to them all.
Help me to make such amends whenever possible,
except when to do so would injure them or others.


Steps 10-12


Help me to take personal inventory on a daily basis
and whenever I am wrong, to promptly admit it.


Give me for knowledge of your will for me

and the strength to carry it out.


Help me to practise these principles in all my affairs
so that I may reveal Christ in word and action
to the Church and to the world.


Thanksgivings, intercessions and petitions


Dear God, thank you for all you have done for me.


[Specific thanksgivings should be said here]


Dear God, you know my needs better than I will ever know them.

Please help me to trust that you will meet my every need
and help me to be truly thankful.


[Specific intercessions should be said here]



The serenity prayer


God grant me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change;
courage to change the things I can,
and wisdom to know the difference.


Conclusion and the Lord's Prayer *


Let this day and for ever more be yours. Do with me as you will.


All of this I humbly ask

in the name of my Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ,

who taught us to pray:


Our Father in heaven,

hallowed be your name,

your kingdom come,

your will be done,

on earth as in heaven.

Give us today our daily bread.

Forgive us our sins

as we forgive those who sin against us.

Save us from the time of trial

and deliver us from evil.


For the kingdom, the power, and the glory are yours

now and forever.





Prayers denoted * are taken, and the prayer marked # is adapted, from: Church of the Province of New Zealand. (1989). A New Zealand Prayer Book, He Karakia Mihinare o Aotearoa. William Collins, Auckland, New Zealand.



Other prayers



A night prayer



it is night.


The night is for stillness.

Let us be still in the presence of God.


It is night after a long day.

What has been done has been done;

what has not been done has not been done;

let it be.


The night is dark.

Let our fears of the darkness of the world and of our own lives rest in you.


The night is quiet.

Let the quietness of your peace enfold us,

all dear to us,

and all who have no peace.


The night heralds the dawn.

Let us look expectantly to a new day,

new joys,

new possibilities.


In your name we pray.




From: Church of the Province of New Zealand. (1989). A New Zealand Prayer Book, He Karakia Mihinare o Aotearoa. William Collins, Auckland, New Zealand.



The prayer of Manasseh


Ascription of praise


1 O Lord Almighty,
God of our ancestors,
of Abraham and Isaac and Jacob
and of their righteous offspring;


2 you who made heaven and earth
with all their order;


3 who shackled the sea by your word of command,
who confined the deep
and sealed it with your terrible and glorious name;


4 at whom all things shudder,
and tremble before your power,


5 for your glorious splendour cannot be borne,
and the wrath of your threat to sinners is unendurable;


6 yet immeasurable and unsearchable
is your promised mercy,


7 for you are the Lord Most High,
of great compassion, long-suffering, and very merciful,
and you relent at human suffering.
O Lord, according to your great goodness
you have promised repentance and forgiveness
to those who have sinned against you,
and in the multitude of your mercies
you have appointed repentance for sinners,
so that they may be saved.


8 Therefore you, O Lord, God of the righteous,
have not appointed repentance for the righteous,
for Abraham and Isaac and Jacob, who did not sin against you,
but you have appointed repentance for me, who am a sinner.


Confession of sins


9 For the sins I have committed are more in number than the sand of the sea;
my transgressions are multiplied, O Lord, they are multiplied!
I am not worthy to look up and see the height of heaven
because of the multitude of my iniquities.


10 I am weighted down with many an iron fetter,
so that I am rejected* because of my sins,
and I have no relief;
for I have provoked your wrath
and have done what is evil in your sight,
setting up abominations and multiplying offences.


Supplication for pardon


11 And now I bend the knee of my heart,
imploring you for your kindness.


12 I have sinned, O Lord, I have sinned,
and I acknowledge my transgressions.


13 I earnestly implore you,
forgive me, O Lord, forgive me!
Do not destroy me with my transgressions!
Do not be angry with me for ever or store up evil for me;
do not condemn me to the depths of the earth.
For you, O Lord, are the God of those who repent,


14 and in me you will manifest your goodness;
for, unworthy as I am, you will save me according to your great mercy,


15 and I will praise you continually all the days of my life.
For all the host of heaven sings your praise,
and yours is the glory for ever.




A general confession
To be said of the whole congregation after the minister, all standing.

Almighty and most merciful Father; We have erred, and strayed from thy ways like lost sheep. We have followed too much the desires and devices of our own hearts. We have offended against thy holy laws. We have left undone those things which we ought to have done; And we have done those things which we ought not to have done; And there is no health in us. But thou, O Lord, have mercy upon us, miserable offenders. Spare thou them, O God, which confess their faults. Restore thou them that are penitent; According to thy promises declared unto mankind in Christ Jesu our Lord. And grant, O most merciful Father, for his sake; That we may hereafter live a godly, righteous and sober life. To the glory of thy holy name.


The Book of Common Prayer, p. 42


The prayer of St. Francis

Lord, make me a channel of thy peace,
that where there is hatred, I may bring love;
that where there is wrong, I may bring the spirit of forgiveness;
that where there is discord, I may bring harmony;
that where there is error, I may bring truth;
that where there is doubt, I may bring faith;
that where there is despair, I may bring hope;
that where there are shadows, I may bring light;
that where there is sadness, I may bring joy.

Lord, grant that I may seek rather to comfort than to be comforted;
to understand, than to be understood;
to love, than to be loved.

For it is by self-forgetting that one finds.
It is by forgiving that one is forgiven.
It is by dying that one awakens to Eternal Life.



The prayer of St. Richard

Lord Jesus Christ, we thank you for all the benefits you have won for us,
for all the pains and insults you have borne for us.

Most merciful redeemer, friend and brother,
may we know you more clearly,
love you more dearly,
and follow you more nearly,
day by day.



Inspiration and scripture for recovering alcoholics

These are words of inspiration and quotations from scripture that may be of particular comfort to recovering alcoholics.

A Beautiful Tribute to AA & To Bill and Bob

We died of pneumonia in furnished rooms where they found us three days later when somebody complained about the smell.

We died against bridge abutments and nobody knew if it was suicide and we probably didn't know either except in the sense that it was always suicide.

We died in hospitals, our stomachs large, distended and there was nothing they could do.

We died in cells, never knowing whether we were guilty or not.

We went to priests, they gave us pledges, they told us to pray, they told us to go and sin no more, but go. We tried and we tried.

We died of overdoses, we died in bed (but usually not the Big Bed). We died in straightjackets, in the DT's seeing God know what, creeping, skittering, slithering, shuffling things.

And you know what the worst thing was? The worst thing was that nobody ever believed how hard we tried. We went to doctors and they gave us stuff to take that would make us sick when we drank on the principle of 'so crazy, it just might work,' I guess, or maybe they just shook their heads and sent us to places like Drop Kick Murphy's.

And when we got out we were hooked on paraldehyde or maybe we lied to the doctors and they told us not to drink so much, just drink like me.

And we tried, and we died.

We drowned in our own vomit or choked on it, our broken jaws wired shut.

We died playing Russian Roulette and people thought we'd lost, but we knew better.

We died under the hooves of horses, under the wheels of vehicles, under the knives and boot heels of our brother drunks. We died in shame.

And you know what was even worse was that we couldn't believe it ourselves, that we had tried.

We figured we just thought we tried and we died believing that we hadn't tried, believing that we didn't know what it meant to try.

When we were desperate enough or hopeful or deluded or embattled enough to go for help, we went to people with letters after their names and prayed that they might have read the right books, that had the right words in them, never suspecting the terrifying truth, that the right words simple as they were, had not been written yet.

We died falling off girders on high buildings, because of course ironworkers drink, of course they do. We died with a shotgun in our mouth, or jumping off a bridge, and everybody knew it was suicide.

We died under the Southeast Expressway, with our hands tied behind us and a bullet in the back of our head, because this time the people that we disappointed were the wrong people.

We died in convulsions, or of 'insult to the brain', we died incontinent, and in disgrace, abandoned. If we were women, we died degraded, because women have so much more to live up to.

We tried and we died and nobody cried.

And the worst thing was that for every one of that died, there were another hundred of us, or another thousand, who wished that we could die, who went to sleep praying we would not have to wake up because what we were enduring was intolerable and we knew in our hearts it wasn't gonna change.

One day in a hospital room in New York City, one of us had what the books call a transforming experience, and he said to himself," I've got it, and I have to share it.'

And he kept trying to give it away, but we couldn't hear it.

We tried and we died.

We died of one last cigarette, the comfort of its glowing in the dark. We passed out and the bed caught fire. They said we suffocated before our body burned, they said we never felt a thing, that was the best way maybe that we died, except sometimes we took our families with us.

And the man in New York was so sure he had it, he tried to love us into sobriety, but that didn't work either, love confuses drunks and he tried and we still died. One after another we got his hope up and we broke his heart, because that's what we do.

And the worst thing was that every time we thought we knew what the worst thing was, something happened that was worse.

Until a day came in a hotel lobby and it wasn't in Rome, or Jerusalem, or Mecca or even Dublin, or South Boston, it was in Akron, Ohio, for Christ's sake.

A day came when the man said I have to find a drunk because I need him as much as he needs me. And the transmission line, after all these years, was open.

And now we don't go to priests, and we don't go to doctors and people with letter after their names. We come to people who have been there, we come to each other. And we try.

And we don't have to die.

John C.


Who has woe? Who has Sorrow?

29 Who has woe? Who has sorrow?
Who has strife? Who has complaining?
Who has wounds without cause?
Who has redness of eyes?

30 Those who linger late over wine,
those who keep trying mixed wines.

31 Do not look at wine when it is red,
when it sparkles in the cup
and goes down smoothly.

32 At the last it bites like a serpent,
and stings like an adder.

33 Your eyes will see strange things,
and your mind utter perverse things.

34 You will be like one who lies down in the midst of the sea,
like one who lies on the top of a mast.

35 “They struck me,” you will say, “but I was not hurt;
they beat me, but I did not feel it.
When shall I awake?
I will seek another drink.”

Proverbs 23:29-35


Everything has its time

1 For everything there is a season, and a time for every matter under heaven:

2 a time to be born, and a time to die; a time to plant, and a time to pluck up what is planted;

3 a time to kill, and a time to heal; a time to break down, and a time to build up;

4 a time to weep, and a time to laugh; a time to mourn, and a time to dance;

5 a time to throw away stones, and a time to gather stones together; a time to embrace, and a time to refrain from embracing;

6 a time to seek, and a time to lose; a time to keep, and a time to throw away;

7 a time to tear, and a time to sew; a time to keep silence, and a time to speak;

8 a time to love, and a time to hate; a time for war, and a time for peace.

Ecclesiastes 3:1-8


The speech about wine

18 Gentlemen, how is wine the strongest? It leads astray the minds of all who drink it.

19 It makes equal the mind of the king and the orphan, of the slave and the free, of the poor and the rich.

20 It turns every thought to feasting and mirth, and forgets all sorrow and debt.

21 It makes all hearts feel rich, forgets kings and satraps, and makes everyone talk in millions.

22 When people drink they forget to be friendly with friends and kindred, and before long they draw their swords.

23 And when they recover from the wine, they do not remember what they have done.

24 Gentlemen, is not wine the strongest, since it forces people to do these things? When he had said this, he stopped speaking.

1 Esdras 3:18-24

Joy and Sorrow

Then a woman said, Speak to us of Joy and Sorrow.
And he answered:
Your joy is your sorrow unmasked.
And the selfsame well from which your laughter rises was oftentimes filled with your tears.
And how else can it be?
The deeper that sorrow carves into your being, the more joy you can contain.
Is not the cup that holds your wine the very cup that was burned in the potter's oven?
And is not the lute that soothes your spirit, the very wood that was hollowed with knives?
When you are joyous, look deep into your heart and you shall find it is only that which has given you sorrow that is giving you joy.
When you are sorrowful look again in your heart, and you shall see that in truth you are weeping for that which has been your delight.
Some of you say, "Joy is greater than sorrow," and others say, "Nay, sorrow is the greater."
But I say unto you, they are inseperable.
Together they come, and when one sits alone with you at your board, remember that the other is asleep upon your bed.
Verily you are suspended like scales between your sorrow and your joy.
Only when you are empty are you at standstill and balanced.
When the treasure-keeper lifts you to weigh his gold and his silver, needs must your joy or your sorrow rise or fall

From The Prophet, Kahlil Gibran


Alcoholic poetry

These are works by alcoholic poets that describe both the anguish and despair of alcoholic insanity and the joy and hope that recovery brings.

The authors retain the copyright on all works unless otherwise noted.

Lover Won't Leave

I have a lover who won't leave,
though I ask him to each morning
Show me mercy - don't come back
I plead as morning's dawning

Cunning, baffling, powerful
An obsession truly frightening
Succumbing to it every day,
and a noose that's every tightening

It's compelling, my head's yelling
enough enough enough
Killing me slowly, spending my money,
and yet this lover I love

He makes me miss work, late for work,
and keeps me from my friends
He makes me anxious, tired and lonely,
and wants my life to end

In sleep I dream and see this end,
the one he plans for me
An end that's drawing nearer,
and from which I must break free

I see humiliation,
and the loss of all I am
The hearts of loved ones broken,
it's a love and life that's damned

Can't use, can't quit the mantra goes,
and there is no reprieve
Just a constant longing for this lover,
the lover who will not leave

Cathryn B.


Lament for Barney Flanagan


Flanagan got up on a Saturday morning,
Pulled on his pants while the coffee was warming;
He didn't remember the doctor's warning,
"Your heart's too big, Mr. Flanagan."

Barney Flanagan, sprung like a frog
From a wet root in an Irish bog -
May his soul escape from the tooth of the dog!
God have mercy on Flanagan.

Barney Flanagan R.I.P.
Rode to his grave on Hennessy's
Like a bottle-cork boat in the Irish Sea.
The bell-boy rings for Flanagan.

Barney Flanagan, ripe for a coffin,
Eighteen stone and brandy-rotten,
Patted the housemaid's velvet bottom -
"Oh, is it you, Mr. Flanagan?"

The sky was bright as a new milk token.
Bill the Bookie and Shellshock Hogan
Waited outside for the pub to open -
"Good day, Mr. Flanagan."

At noon he was drinking in the lounge bar corner
With a sergeant of police and a racehorse owner
When the Angel of Death looked over his shoulder -
"Could you spare a moment, Flanagan?"

Oh the deck was cut; the bets were laid;
But the very last card that Barney played
Was the Deadman's Trump, the bullet of Spades -
"Would you like more air, Mr. Flanagan?"

The priest came running but the priest came late
For Barney was banging at the Pearly Gate.
St Peter said, "Quiet! You'll have to wait
For a hundred masses, Flanagan."

The regular boys and the loud accountants
Left their nips and their seven-ounces
As chickens fly when the buzzard pounces -
"Have you heard about old Flanagan?"

Cold in the parlour Flanagan lay
Like a bride at the end of her marriage day.
The Waterside Workers' Band will play
A brass goodbye to Flanagan.

While publicans drink their profits still.
While lawyers flock to be in at the kill,
While Aussie barmen milk the till
We will remember Flanagan.

For Barney had a send-off and no mistake.
He died like a man for his country's sake;
And the Governor-General came to his wake.
Drink again to Flanagan!

Despise not, O Lord, the work of Thine own hands
And let light perpetual shine upon him.

James K. Baxter



I found myself in a bottomless pit
of sorrow and woe and despair.
When a ray of light revealed to me
the steps of a shining stair.
In vain I tried to reach those steps,
by myself it could not be done.
I cried for help and a voice replied,
"You are standing on Step Number One."
"Who's that?" I asked. "What do you want??"
"Can you tell me what to do?"
"Give me your hand," the voice answered,
"and you'll be on Step Number Two"
I held up my hand. I decided that I
alone could not set myself free.
But I trusted that voice and it suddenly said,
"You are standing on Step Number Three."
I stop there and rest, and look at myself.
I don't think I can do anymore.
From somewhere above the voice came again,
"You are standing on Step Number Four."
Wherever you are, you don't understand,
I don't deserve to be alive.
For I am a liar, a thief and a con.
The voice said, "You're on Step Number Five."
I'm not well, I'm not right. There's a lot wrong with me.
Is there anything that you can fix?
The voice came again and so gently replied,
"You are standing on Step Number Six."
All right then, I'll ask--can you take these away?
Can you make me feel closer to heaven?
"I love you," the voice said. "Your heaven's in you,
and you're standing on Step Number Seven."
There's so many I've harmed, my family I've hurt--
all the pain and the grief and the hate.
"It's alright my child," the voice calmly said.
"You are now on Step Number Eight."
"You must tell them you're sorry. You must make things right.
And then in their eyes you will shine."
"I'll do it," I whispered. And then the voice said,
"You're standing on Step Number Nine."
I must keep a close eye on my motives and self
'Cause there's wrongs that I may do again.
"Look at you," the voice said, "at how far you've come.
You are now on Step Number Ten."
I pray and I ask for knowledge and strength
I want to keep my direct line to heaven.
The voice is so close--it's as if it's right there,
saying "You're standing on Step Number Eleven."
And so here I stand, almost at the top.
Into all of my past I did delve.
Now I want to help others who are still in the pit
And the voice says, "This is Step Number Twelve."
This all feels so strange, I have left it behind,
All the pain and the anger and strife.
And the great thing about it--I need never return
to that miserable way of life.
I'm bathed in that light I first saw as a ray.
I'm happy and joyous and free.
I pray for those whom I wish I would see in these rooms,
And would take their example from me.
For although I'm not perfect, I will always know
There are choices that I have today.
I can live in that bottomless pit of despair,
Or I can live my new life in AA.

Michelle B.


Toxic Antithesis
(For Clair Drucker - Debt Acknowledged)

Accompanying the power of addiction, my life
Began to bloat until my soul
Gave up control to something called belief
In one who grants insanity for sto-

Len acts of bad faith (1), breathed
Before tall risers with deep treads had come (2).
To both be restored as well as to have a future,
As if races once run could be re-run,
I paid the other, whom I owed, face-
To-face until the Other (3), satisfied,
Flash-bulbed me like sunshine mace;
And I walked, from those bribed
By substances, past moral inventories:
A body, once dead, now a living synthesis (4).

D. A. Hagelberg


For several years I was a very confused person...

I drank for happiness and became unhappy,
I drank for joy and became miserable.
I drank to be outgoing and became self centered.
I drank for socialbility and became argumentative and lonely.
I drank for sophistication and became crude and obnoxious.
I drank for friendship and made enemies.
I drank for sleep and awakened without rest.
I drank for strength and felt weak.
I drank because I thought my job called for it and lost my job.
I drank for relaxation and got the shakes.
I drank for confidence and became uncertain.
I drank for courage and became afraid.
I drank for assurance and became doubtful.
I drank to stimulate thought and blacked out.
I drank to make conversation and could not remember what I said.
I drank to feel heavenly and came to know hell.
I drank for power and became powerless.
I drank to erase problems and saw them multiply.
I drank because I had the right - everything turned out wrong.
I drank to cope with life and almost died.



Alcohol is my Master

Alcohol is my master, I shall always want.
It makes me lie down in street gutters,
It leads me into dark alleys,
It destroys my soul.
It guides me in the path of the insane,
For it's name sake.
I now walk in the shadow of the valley of death,
And I shall always fear evil,
For it is inside me!
The burn from the bottle,
It no longer conforts me,
It prepares a place for me,
In the presence of all my fears.
It screws with my mind and body,
Till I'm no longer alive.
Surely death or insanity shall follow me,
All the remaining days of my life.
And I shall dwell in the house of the dead forever,
Or is there another way?

Chet H.

A New Love

I left the bottle
and I cried and cried
for my lover
I'd hated more than loved.
I cried and cried because
everything had to change
and I wasn't ready,
and all my loves
had to change.
I cried and cried until
I was ready and
I found something
more important to love.

Kathy L.

Empty Bottles

I open you up, you swallow me whole
consuming all of my pride
I beg for mercy but it's too late
you've seeped into my mind
What's gray becomes black, the clouds become fog
and my reality becomes confused
I'm left with my thoughts, which don't seem to make sense
and the body that I have abused
I'm torn between pleasure and pain
I feel I am pathetic and weak
to ask for help would be admitting to failure
so I choose not to speak
Together we sit alone in the dark
thinking of times gone by
and of all the things I'm convinced are my fault
although I haven't yet figured out why
The daily stress of life, it seems
has gotten out of control
so I close my eyes and swallow hard
and sacrifice my soul
Now you are gone and I am scared
so I stumble off to bed
to lie alone night after night
a prisoner within my own head

Amy S.

Lament for the Night

Upon an hour
above the Sun
the Moon rules night and day
a ritual cauldron
spell of Bacchus
drains the room of pounding pace

Enjoy it while you live
but life rejects life that you give
my cards are slates of clay and sand
all you deal's a dead man's hand

that breaks the song
and cuts the night
alone I tread a shroud
the mime of music
grains of sorrow
echo still a lonely curse

Darryl W.

It is Cold at the Height of Summer

It is cold at the height of Summer
angels cry from clouds in sympathy

tears from heaven assault the thirsty land
the ground is moist but cold

its dampness torments my feet
as I dare to absorb the atmosphere

stormy silence shatters my sense of sanctity
mildew darkens the emptiness inside

and colour fades to monochrome
while all semblance of sanity is lost

the Sun has passed its use-by date
as I stand in wonder at the sudden eclipse

totally alone on a windy road
It is cold at the height of Summer

Darryl W.


If would like to submit your poetry to be considered for inclusion in this page, please e-mail me. Plain text or HTML only please. Attached documents will not be opened.


Many thanks, Darryl W.


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