Third Step Prayer

Sometimes the steps seem too long. I get that– twelve items on a to-do list is a lot. So, it helps to have some milestones along the way. The 3rd step prayer is an important one.


God, I offer myself to Thee – To build with me and to do with me as Thou wilt. Relieve me of the bondage of self, that I may better do Thy will. Take away my difficulties, that victory over them may bear witness to those I would help of Thy Power, Thy Love, and Thy Way of Life.

The 3rd step prayer is called the key to willingness because it opens the door to recovery. Passing through this step is a big deal. It means you’ve already made the excruciatingly hard and amazingly brave decision to seek help. Then you went through step one of admitting you are powerless over alcohol. (If you’re anything like me, that step felt like taking Old Yeller behind the barn and shooting him. Giving up alcohol was like losing my best friend.) Next came step two where you turned to a power greater than yourself to restore your sanity. Not an easy thing to do. And here you are at step three and the 3rd step prayer.

Let me tell you that so many people never make it to step three and the 3rd step prayer. So, if you’re at this point that means you are strong and courageous, and you have what it takes to complete all twelve steps. 

This step you’re on right now, step three, is the key that opens the door to complete recovery. Take a minute to just imagine what your life will look like when you’ve finished all twelve steps. Think about someone you know with years of sobriety under their belts. Soon enough, that will be you– one step at a time, one day at a time. 

The Big Book tells us that step three is about the all-important decision to surrender. This is when you turn your will and your life over to the care of God. Praying the 3rd step prayer means actively deciding to move forward, and trusting God with the process. You are accepting His help and acknowledging that your addiction is beyond your control. 

Press into this step, give it all you’ve got, say this prayer like you mean it, and watch the door to recovery swing wide open for you!

Now I know all of that “thee” and “thou” of the 3rd step prayer can be confusing. So, let’s break down this prayer line by line so we can really grasp the depths of what it’s all about.

God, I offer myself to Thee.

Step three finalizes the decision to surrender yourself totally to God. This means that you’re connected to God, and you realize that you need Him every day. It reminds me of this beautiful image in the Bible where it says that God is the vine and we are the branches. If a branch is cut off the vine, then it can’t do anything. But, as long as the branch stays connected to the vine, then it bears delicious fruit. That is the kind of surrender we’re talking about here. You realize that you are a branch and God is the source of all you need to walk in sobriety. (See John 15:5)

To build with me and to do with me as Thou wilt. 

One of the worst parts of alcoholism is the feeling of hopelessness after you’ve hit rock bottom. This line is the exact opposite because it focuses on the hope you have in God that He will do and build amazing things in and through you. There is hope in your brokenness. Or as Proverbs 23:18 promises, “There is surely a future hope for you, and your hope will not be cut off.

Relieve me of the bondage of self, that I may better do Thy will.

In the 3rd step prayer, you are choosing to lean on God and accept His help. Thankfully, Jesus promised that anyone who comes to God weary and burdened will be given rest (Matthew 11:28). You can lay down the heavy burden of alcoholism and rest in His great love for you. Then He’ll give you the power and help to do His will.

Take away my difficulties

You are asking and trusting that God can and will remove the brokenness in your life. He will forgive your sins and restores you back to wholeness. This gives you a new attitude about life because the weight of the past isn’t dragging you down anymore. You are forgiven!  When God takes away your difficulties, you can boldly say, “I have been crucified with Christ. It is no longer I who live, but Christ who lives in me. And the life I now live in the flesh I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave himself for me” (Galatians 2:20).

That victory over them may bear witness

God saved you, restored you, and wants to use you for His glory. Once God enables you to overcome your difficulties, you become a powerful living example to others. You can teach the body of Christ what it truly means to say, “In all these things we are more than conquerors through him who loved us“ (Romans 8:37).

To those I would help of Thy Power, Thy Love, and Thy Way of Life.

This line reminds me of one of my favorite Bible verses: “For the Spirit God gave us does not make us timid, but gives us power, love and self-discipline” (2 Timothy 1:7). As you walk out your recovery journey, God’s power and love will be evident in how you live your life. People will look at you and see God’s Spirit within you. Isn’t that amazing?! Many addicts feel like their addiction defines them. They fear that people look at them and only see is their brokenness. But through the process of recovery, people will see you in a whole new light. Now you are like a walking billboard advertising God’s power and love!

May I do Thy will always!

The word “always” here sounds a little intimidating at first. But remember that “God is faithful, and he will not let you be tempted beyond your ability, but with the temptation, he will also provide the way of escape, that you may be able to endure it” (1 Corinthians 10:13). God will help you live this prayer. All you have to do is ask.

Say the 3rd step prayer with honesty and sincerity, surrender your whole self to God, and be amazed at what He’ll do!