by James Ryan
Early in my recovery, a prayer was suggested to me that has proven to be quite effective. Like any good prayer, it is simple and direct:
“God, please send me someone to help today.”
When I first said this prayer, I was six months sober and had just finished making my amends.
I lived in a small town at the time, so I walked to work that morning. About halfway to the office, I heard a little jingling sound in the distance. I looked up the street and saw a very happy dog trotting my way. He was dragging his leash behind him.
I normally didn’t get along all that well with dogs—we just weren’t interested in the same things. But this dog ran right up to me and sat down at my feet.
If you had been passing by, you would have thought I was the owner of a surprisingly obedient pup.
Time passed in silence between us. I stared down at the dog. It stared right back up at me, panting and pacified. He seemed like a very friendly little guy.
Then I heard a new sound in the distance. I looked up the street again to see a man running breathlessly around the corner in our direction.
It took me a minute to put two and two together. This did not seem like the kind of dog that would just up and run away, but the circumstantial evidence was stacked against him. I reached down and held onto his collar, which he let me do without a fuss.
The man came up to us, gasping for air. He thanked me as best he could, took the leash, and ran back off again with his dog.
Five minutes earlier, I’d asked God to send me someone to help.
I guess He’d decided to make my first time easy.
When I think back on that day, I see a miracle not so much in the fact that a dog and his owner were suddenly introduced into my morning, but that I was actually paying attention. And I actually cared. Three months prior, I’d have just as soon kicked the dog as looked him in the eye, and I wouldn’t have had any time to wait around for some jerk who couldn’t hang on to the leash.
It’s amazing that my prayer was answered. It’s more amazing that I was able to say that prayer and mean it. God really worked me over in my first nine steps, and that morning provided my first piece of evidence that this program really worked.
Jimmy K., a founding member of Narcotics Anonymous, used to say a similar prayer: “God, please send me someone who really wants this program, even just for a few hours.”
And my great grand-sponsor used to have one like this: “God, please let your love flow through me and into the lives of others.”
Praying to be useful to others is solid 12th step stuff. In my experience, God always answers these prayers in the affirmative. If you ask God to send you someone to help, you’ll get what you pray for. You might not always like what you get—God might send you the exact person that you least wanted to help—but your prayer will be answered in full.
These days I’ve been blessed with an abundance of people to help. My wife is pregnant, expecting a girl in December. My son is five. I teach, so I’ve got students to assist. And I generally have a few sponsees. I no longer need God to redirect lost dogs my way in order to have someone to help. So I use that prayer less often.
These days, I pray for willingness and understanding.
Source: Recovering Faith: Words for the Way. Volume 2 [Kelly Hall, ed]