A Wonderful Organization

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I had dropped by my partner’s workplace to bring her some items she had requested. Her co-worker, Shannon, was there. I’d met her co-worker socially a few times before and, when the time was appropriate, made her aware of my AA membership.

Shannon pulled me aside and said “We have a friend in common” Shannon had gotten to know him through a sports activity they both shared. “I saw your name on a card in his room.” Our friend was institutionalized for cancer treatment. He was the DCM for District 32 in the Cleveland Heights, Ohio locale. Our area passed a card around for him.

You belong to a wonderful organization,” she beamed. “He has had dozens of visitors from AA just one after the other.” I nodded and smiled—I was one of those. We hear sometimes at meetings that we may be the only Big Book that outsiders see. Cards and visitors: these were the Big Books Shannon saw.

I started attending meetings in my locale in 1984. During announcements the secretary would ask, “Are there any home group members sick or in the hospital that we can get a card out to or go visit?” As time went on we got cheaper and lazier and this announcement has become “Is there anyone we should pray for?”

I’m not sure what they want me to pray? Lord knows we all have prayed so-called “prayers of intercession” to tell God what to do; e.g., “God get me out of this mess.” And often we got angry with God later for not doing our demands. We were confused about which one of us was God.

AA tells us over and over to not pray that way “…praying only for knowledge of His will for us and the power to carry that out”, “We are careful not to pray for our own selfish ends,” and “We constantly remind ourselves we are no longer running the show, humbly saying to ourselves many times a day ‘Thy will be done.’”

Indeed, Bill W, addressing the 3,000 of us at the 1950 International Convention stated “We have in AA what amounts to a rule that we never pray for people.” So it seems inappropriate that we pray that the sick individual get better. Surely at some point, if I were ill, it shall be God’s will that I not get better and I would hope that there are not people out there praying that it be otherwise. I asked my co-sponsor what to pray. He said he simply prays that the individuals named come to accept God’s will for the situation.

Some religions believe in prayers of intercession and others do not. It is at any rate a religious question and I fear that we are giving the newcomer the misconception that AA has an opinion on religion.

I escorted a former General Manager of our General Service Office to some meetings in our area. I expressed my concern on this item and he simply put it, “Yes, they’re turning this into a religion.” I think we need be wary of this trend. We need to be a welcoming place for alcoholics of all backgrounds.

But I’ve spent enough time on the soap box so I’ll step down and allow someone else a turn. Pray if you want, or don’t pray if you don’t want, but please do not stop the cards and visits! It is those that make us in other’s eyes, and in our own, a wonderful organization!

By Bob M.

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The views and opinions expressed in this article are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the policy or position of the AA Cleveland District Office.