Praying for your enemies and resentments

Experiences along the way that bring us closer to our Higher Power in 12 Step Sobriety and Moments of Clarity.
garden variety
Posts: 750
Joined: Fri Aug 04, 2006 7:39 pm

Praying for your enemies and resentments

Postby garden variety » Thu May 10, 2007 3:31 pm

This was one of those things that hit me like a ton of bricks just a little while ago. This is a little long - sorry.

Theres that thing in the book thats called the "resentment prayer" - I think its somewhere in How it Works - It says I'm supposed to ask God to help me give the person I'm mad at the same patience, tolaerance and understanding that I would "cheerfully give" to a sick friend. Then it goes on to tell me how to ask God to keep me from getting angry at them. Boy I hated that "cheerfully" thing - made my blood boil at first.

But you know sponsors they tell you that you have a resentment and maybe you should pray for the guy. Thats the time I really hate sponsors. But I do what he says anyhow because it works. So I was doing this and got used to praying for people I had a grudge against. After a while God started educating me that its the only way I can pray for someone I dont like that makes sense. I pray that God blesses them like He does to me - that way nothing I pray for them is against His will. I dont ask Him to do anything different than I ask Him to do for me.

Well this made sense to me and it always works for me because my resentment and anger goes away. But the problem I kept on having is that darn "cheerful" thing. I can pray for these people that are my enemies and mean it with my heart - but jeez cheerful? I pray for them because I know its right and it works, but I sure dont like doing it. And the book also says that there are things I have to do that I dont like to do.

So I got this book by a catholic guy named Thomas Keating because I heard he was good on meditation which I want to do better because its part of step 11 and getting closer to God. Then I read this part in the first couple chapters.

Father Keating says that when we have war and violence and hate - we are hurting God. Then I thought for a minute that if I hate somebody or have a resentment against them - then I have the same feelings about God. God loves me and helps me the most out of everyone so why would I want to hurt Him? Then Father Keating goes on to say that God is so much acquainted with our lives and our deaths that Jesus said "Whatever you do to the least of these little ones, you do the same unto me."

Boy did that hit me like a ton of bricks. If Im driving down the road and some guy cuts me off and I fly my middle finger at him - I'm doing the same thing to God! If I wish that sorry S.O.B. who critiszed me at the meeting would eat poop and die - Im wishing that would happen to God. This whole thing that Father Keating wrote really opened my eyes and gave me a "moment of clarity" that I really needed.

Now I can "cheerfully" pray for those that do me wrong. Because its better for them to get to know God in a better way than for me to wish they just go off somewhere and die. I guess I realized that God loves them just as much as He loves me even though they act like jerks. When I drank and when I was getting sober early on I was a jerk for sure. And I also used to cut off people a lot too. Somebody must have prayed for me to get here alive - so now I look at that as a job I can do for others too.

Sorry this is so long but one more thing - this is something God kinda spoke to me. What would happen if that jerk (any jerk that gets me mad) didnt have anyone praying for him? He would be without a prayer. I wouldnt want to ever be without a prayer in front of God. So its a lot easier now to pray for those that I dont like AND be "cheerful".

Posts: 409
Joined: Mon Apr 17, 2006 3:42 pm

Postby anniemac » Thu May 10, 2007 5:54 pm

Here's the exact quote out of the BB:

"We asked God to help us show them the same tolerance, pity, and patience that we would cheerfully grant a sick friend."

I really like your story, and I admire your ability to be cheerful in praying for those who irritate you. I'm not quite as generous of spirit yet. :oops:

Perhaps I'm a Scrooge and a nit-picker, but I don't see that I am asked to be cheerful about asking God to show us tolerance, pity and patience...the "cheerful" refers to what we would wish for the sick friend.

So, armed with that loophole, I pray for them to be surrounded by a healing white light so that, when healed, they will no longer need to behave in the way that was offensive.

Guess I've got a ways to go! :shock:

Site Admin
Posts: 4830
Joined: Thu Jul 28, 2005 9:05 pm

Postby Dallas » Thu May 10, 2007 6:58 pm

And I thought I was making progress! :oops: :oops:

Thanks to both of you for your great messages.

I hope that this isn't one of those "moments of clarity" or "inspirational hunches" for me -- that's supposed to be preparing me for how to handle my anger over some "impending doom" that's headed my way, in the near future! I am different and things just uniquely seem to happen to me this way! :lol: :lol: :lol: :lol: :lol:

I got a lot out of both the messages that you posted. I guess regardless of how we go about doing it -- it's a good idea to not get angry! :wink:

And, anything that will help us get over the resentment -- without drinking -- would be a bonus.

I've made enough progress that I can often remember to try to look upon the "offender" :wink: as a "very sick person" :oops: -- and, sometimes I'm even able to be nice to them, (while trying to hide all appearances of gnashing of my teeth) -- and to be patient, and to show them tolerance. And, there has been a few times (well, more than a couple) that I have remembered to ask God to help me to be nice and patient and show them tolerance. That's a lot of progress for me -- and I recognize that I still have some work to do!

Most often, it seems like I pray something like "God, please help me to be as patient, and merciful, and to show them the same tolerance that you have shown to me." And, then... I try to remember that -- whatever I do, I want to try to be a good example of recovery.

Other times -- my prayer is shorter -- "God help me to show them love and tolerance and to be a good example."

I do want to try doing it precisely like the Big Book describes. I know how beneficial it has been for me, with the other things in the book that I've done that with. So, I'm going to add it to my Daily Step 10/11 To Do List.

Thanks Paul, for sharing the ideas from Thomas Keating. There is certainly lot of depth to his message, and I can see how it might help me to look at a person from a different angle -- and to be able to treat them differently.

Thanks Anne, for the reminder of placing them in the "White Light" -- that's something that I used to do years ago -- and you've reminded me of some valuable tools and thoughts and ideas that I haven't been using!


Rusty Zipper
Posts: 371
Joined: Fri Jul 29, 2005 11:19 pm

Postby Rusty Zipper » Fri Jul 04, 2008 7:47 pm

how timely GV

in the not so distant past, a person or persons were pilfering moneys out of the groups basket around town...

i have witnessed it myself!

sticky fingers!

Wow, what a resentment brewer!

upon mentioning it to a few!

anger management time!

it open up the old self-righteousness flood gates!

then Whammo!

the God Shot of I Listened moments!

who the hell am i to say anything about this...

i shure did my fair share of steeling in my past!

shure the groups need money to survive.

they also need spiritual growth as a unit, and on a individual basis to survive...

so i prayed for these people, let go of the justified resentments...

in a shor matter of time, the stealing stoped!

was it from my prayers?

i will never know, and dont need to know...

what i do know is the power of prayer, and how it has helped give me that spiritual growth we alky's require!

so that God Shot moment, my powers That Be hit me on the head with that safe, has helped to turn a resentment, into one huge asset!

and Hiya Mr BB, hope all is as it should?

love and blessings


garden variety
Posts: 750
Joined: Fri Aug 04, 2006 7:39 pm

Postby garden variety » Tue Jul 08, 2008 4:38 pm

hiya Mr. Rusty Zipper,

I'm glad that you got hit on the head with that heavy safe! It sounds like you had one of those "turning points" in your life where your Higher Power intervened. You know, my friend, that is what I call a miracle. You sure enough do have an asset that it sounds like you never had before. And it all came from being an alcoholic that has those old resentments, but in the "extrme".

I love to watch another person take one of those character defects, then put it under the "fire" of a loving God, and then it gets transformed into one of the biggest and best assets the fellow ever saw before. Man - what kind of a miracle do we have here with this fellowship and 12 steps? This is BIG stuff - GREAT BIG STUFF! I know how you feel because it still happens to me.

Good for you my friend and God bless you!

Posts: 17
Joined: Tue Jul 08, 2008 12:33 pm

Postby Berdie » Wed Jul 09, 2008 10:24 am

This post and everyone in it has blessed me today by reading it. I have had a few awakenings in recovery, a couple came very early when I knew I had to get rid of resentments or that I would be back out there drinking & drugging again and life would just keep getting worse. I had managed to let go of a LOT of the resentments I'd had, except one. (I'd come to AA with 24 pages of resentments against other people - mostly for abuse of all kinds- and 19 pages of resentements for things I'd done to other people.) The person I coudn't forgive or let go of the resentment was the worst of my perpetraitors of abuse. I had long ago vowed that I'd see him in hell and if I had the power to cast him there, he'd already have been crispy. In fact, so deep was my anger toward him that I would have gone to his funeral to pour gasoline on his casket and struck a match to speed up the process of getting him to hell. Sounds pretty bitter, doesn't it? I was.

This man had not just been abusive, he had caused me to loose my innocence at 5 years old, then continued the abuse sexually for 3 1/2 more years and physical abuse until I was 13 and landed a knife in the wall less than an inch from his head. He was brutal, violent, tortureous (spelling?), cold and without remourse.

Suddenly (not really suddenly), I was 42 and in the program of AA. I had managed to stay sober and clean for about 6 months and life was improving. Out of all those I had resentments towards, there were only two I could not move past. Him, and me. I didn't know if I would EVER truly be able to forgive myself, I sure doubted it. But I knew I wanted to try to learn how, how, how, to forgive him.

One night, I got down on my knees in front of my window...(oh, how I love praying at windows - not so anyone can see me, because I manage to make sure they can't - but just so I can look up at the clouds and the sky) here I am, on my knees there and I pray something like, "God, when I asked you to help me a few months ago to change my life you did. You helped me to stop drinking and drugging. Things have been getting better. Now, I realize that if I don't forgive **name omitted***, that I will end up drinking and drugging again. I don't want that. I want to be able to forgive him, but I just don't know how. Please, please, show me how to forgive him. Help me forgive him."

In that same moment, came the same soft voice that pointed me to AA in the first place. "Don't forgive the action, forgive the thinking. Have you ever had a sick thought?"


"Have you ever had a sick thought that you wouldn't want anyone else to know about?" the soft voice asked.

Quickly, things popped into my head that I remembered thinking that I wouldn't want other people to know. "Yes." I said. I had stollen seniors heart medication to get high on. I had "borrowed" (unasked) my mother car when I was younger. I had driven drunk and taken a chance on anyone's life who was on the road - even in blackouts. Those will just name a few of the ones that I don't mind mentioning now...not to mention the ones that would turn my face beet red. "Yes." I said and dropped my head.

"He has too. He acted on that sick thinking. Just forgive the sick thinking. Sick actions come from sick thinking."

It was like lightening struck me. I knew could forgive him for having sick thinking and in that moment, all my anger and hostilities for his sick actions melted away. Later I wondered if that were really true because when I had to be around him from time to time, I still felt uncomfortable, but I later realized that it was just me being in self preservation mode. I didn't hate him, nor want him to burn in hell anymore. In fact, I was praying for him to turn his life around and I no longer cared to hear an apology from him. Him changing his life would be wonderful if it happened. So far it hasn't.

A few years later, he got in a bad way and had to be taken to the hospital. The doctors didn't know if he was going to live or not. I went to the hospital. I was shocked when I arrived because he was so bad off he didn't look like himself. He had more than 19 tubes running into his body and was in a coma. I went to his bedside, held his hand and told him I was there. He was out of it. I started praying for him out loud. I prayed for him to get well, prayed for his salvation and prayed the sinner's prayer for him. As I prayed, he began to move his upper body and head and inched over to where my hand was holding his. He put his head against my hand. Tears poured down my face. I knew then that I would never doubt again that I had forgiven him. He did survive, and I still see and talk to him occassionally, and pray for him. He is a cronic active alcoholic who is dying from cirrhosis of the liver and crones disease.

As for forgiving me, on that same day I prayed for forgiveness for him, and was given the lightening bolt revelation of forgiving the sick thinking and accepted it and was able to forgive him, I heard the same soft voice say, "Now, apply some of that same forgiveness to yourself." I had replied back, "I'll try." And I did, it worked.

Each time someone does something offensive, I try to think if I've done something similar and that quickly takes care of it, or if not, I try to remember to forgive their sick thinking that caused thier actions. I also wonder now at what has happened to them to make them be rude, or offending. Why are they like they are? How far back does it go in thier life? Or what's going on in thier life that they are like that?

Some days I do better than others - but thank God for the 10th & 11th steps.

I used to do the white or golden light thing...and should do it again. Now that I remember ....maybe I will.

And thinking of doing these things to that's deep. I like it.

Wow, I didn't mean for this to be so long winded. I apologize for the length. :shock:

Site Admin
Posts: 4830
Joined: Thu Jul 28, 2005 9:05 pm

Postby Dallas » Wed Jul 09, 2008 10:56 am

Good morning and happy Wednesday, Berdie!

Thanks for sharing.

Berdie wrote:Each time someone does something offensive, I try to think if I've done something similar and that quickly takes care of it, or if not, I try to remember to forgive their sick thinking that caused thier actions.

Are you sure that you were not in the meeting with me last night? :lol:

The topic was Step 10... and your quote above was almost my exact same words on an illustration that I used for a resentment! :wink:

The essense of Steps 4 through 9, or the daily practice of Step 10, is to change our perception. The transformation of thoughts and attitudes that is required to achieve and maintain a healthy and happy sobriety. As soon as I can see something from a different angle by changing the way that I'm looking at it -- my perception changes. And, as soon as my perception changes -- I'm free of the resentment. Without the change of perception -- I would just be covering up the resentment again and someday, sooner or later, it will drive me back to dealing with it again.


Posts: 17
Joined: Tue Jul 08, 2008 12:33 pm

Postby Berdie » Wed Jul 09, 2008 11:08 am

Dallas wrote:Are you sure that you were not in the meeting with me last night? :lol:

The topic was Step 10... and your quote above was almost my exact same words on an illustration that I used for a resentment! :wink: Dallas

Darn...that means I'm not so 8) unique after all! LOL!!

No, I was at home last night. My ol' Jeep is down and I'm on swing shift at the moment, so that puts me at the mercy of scheduling and if I can find a ride or a meeting close enough to walk to.

But it sure sounds like we're on the same brain waves, doesn't it? Oooooh, that could be dangerous. :shock: LOL!!!

Site Admin
Posts: 4830
Joined: Thu Jul 28, 2005 9:05 pm

Postby Dallas » Wed Jul 09, 2008 6:48 pm

I guess we might be reading the same edition of the Big Book and trying to live the stuff we find in the book. :wink:

garden variety
Posts: 750
Joined: Fri Aug 04, 2006 7:39 pm

Postby garden variety » Thu Jul 10, 2008 9:23 am

Hi again Berdie,

I love reading your words. I also feel better about myself - being pretty darn long-winded at times!

The biggest thing I learned about forgiveness is that it is impossible for me to do - no matter how hard I try or how much I know its the right thing. It is just not within me to forgive or forget.

But thank God it is that way. Like your words spoke, forgiveness comes only from that Source within. I need the power that comes from a God of my understanding to forgive. Wow what you said about your trip to the hospital - to hold the hand and pray for a man who tormented you the most of all men. That brings tears to my eyes.

That could not have come from you . Berdie. God spoke to that man at his bedside - and He used your lips and your voice. He used your heart and mind to pray just like He prayed that one night and sweated blood. God gave to you the very same thing He gave to the 12 buddies when they fed the 5000. If it was up to the 12, they would have told the hungry to head off to Burger King. God gave them the thing they didn't have. Compassion. Oh yeah - and the vittles, too. That is a Perfect God carrying out His Perfect Will, but using imperfect humans like you and me. Those 12 buddies and the totally human ways they screwed up, right in front of God, well that gives me hope and reminds me just how loving God is.

But He needed them like he needed you that day in the hospital. God doesn't have the arms and legs, ya know? God is a Spirit - so He needs our arms and legs to do the work - or as Dallas would say "take action".

God bless you my friend and thank you for reminding me who is my "new Employer".

Return to “12 Step Sobriety and Moments of Clarity”

Who is online

Users browsing this forum: No registered users and 1 guest