The Lord’s Prayer in A.A. Meetings

In my AA home group, we start meetings by reading from the Big Book: “AA is not allied with any sect, denomination, politics, organization, or institution.” Then we end with the Lord’s Prayer.

There’s something wrong here. The Lord’s Prayer is from the New Testament of the Christian Bible (Matthew 6:9-13). As a Christian Internet source states. “Through this prayer, Jesus invited us to approach God as Father. Indeed, the Lord’s Prayer has been called a summary of the Christian gospel.”

Like many other members of AA, I am not a Christian. My spirituality does not embrace a God of either gender. The Big Book chapter “We Agnostics” states: “When therefore, we speak to you of God, we mean your own conception of God” and “To us the Realm of Sprit is broad, roomy, all inclusive.”

The Lord’s Prayer is a long-running hot topic that crops up regularly at AA meetings around the world. To many alcoholics, the Lord’s Prayer is a mandatory part of the AA meeting ritual. They don’t stop to consider that insulting people like me with a prayer we don’t believe in—making us feel apart from instead of part of—goes against the grain of the fellowship’s philosophy.

A study of AA groups around the world asked AA members what prayers they use at their meetings. Responses came from sober Christians, Jews, Muslims, Buddhists, Hindus, Shintoists, Native Americans, atheists, and pagans from North America, Europe, Australia, Asia and Africa. Most groups in non-Christian counties use the Serenity Prayer to close their meetings.

Why don’t we?



6 replies
  1. connie cunningham says:

    Ha! I had this EXACT issue with AA and no one would address it in the group. They were also very affirming towards anyone speaking of their Christian faith, in a very psychic way. Waves of affirmation would go to that person saying things like they prostrated themselves in the homes on their floors.. to God or any other Christian-type concept.

    It got to the point that I went to a gay AA, even though I am straight, as I felt they would be less apt to display so much Christian belief.

    Sigh…. that didn’t work either.

    So, “Take what you need and leave the rest” has a larger meaning for those of us who don’t follow Christian life styles.


    • beaconadmin says:

      I don’t know where you live, but your area sounds like mine: the Bible belt. Fortunately, several friends in my home group are agnostics like me. We object to the Lord’s Prayer being said at the end of each meeting. I’ve succeeded in getting our closing format to read, “We will now close with the Lord’s Prayer or prayer of your choice,” and about half the time people choose the Serenity Prayer. However, my friend and I are thinking about bringing in totally non-Christian prayers the next time we’re called on. He’s looking for something from the Koran. (I hope he doesn’t get nuked.) I’m memorizing a Cherokee prayer. We’ll see what happens.


  2. Punkyamerica says:

    Thanks for this piece about #1 gripe about AA. The Lord’s prayer is the only prayer we use THAT IS NOT IN THE LITERATURE. That’s the argument I usually make, and when I close a meeting myself I say, “Let’s close with a prayer that IS in the literature, and then start the Serenity Prayer. I also do not pray during the Lord’s Prayer, and if asked why I’m silent, I reply that the prayer is inappropriate, as it’s not in any of our literature and contradicts the preamble.

    The only reason for the Lord’s Prayer, anyway, is the arrogance and sense of entitlement of AA Christians in general, and of Bill Wilson specifically. They’ll even lie to protect its use. Bill wrote, in the 1950’s: “Also it is sometimes complained that the Lord’s Prayer is a Christian document. Nevertheless, this Prayer is of such widespread use and recognition that the argument of its Christian origin seems to be a little far-fetched.” Wow. No matter that it was the Christian prophet uttering those words in the Christian bible, used nowhere else but in Christian context. Shows that even old-timers are capable of denial and falsehood.

    Bill also wrote: “It does not seem necessary to defer to the feelings of our agnostic and atheist newcomers to the extent of completely hiding ‘our light under a bushel.’” So it’s either the Lords Prayer or we’re persecuting them. Meaning, do what we say and ignore the other stuff we say that contradicts it. Typical religious thinking.

    If I didn’t need the program, I’d never go there! 🙂

  3. Bryan Payne says:

    I really feel bad for people that have to tolerate the use of the Lord’s prayer at the end of AA meetings. But if we reduce this program to the ridiculous, it is a christian-based, bible-based, God-centered program we are you need to turn your will and your life over to the care of God. If you don’t want to do this go somewhere else.


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