AA Surrender: Step 3 Is About Trusting a Higher Power

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What is the AA surrender step? How does Step 3 set you up for success?

The AA surrender step is Step 3. It instructs the person to give yourself over to a higher power. While The Big Book says that AA need not be religous, Step 3 does reference God.

Read more about AA surrender and what it means in and out of a religous context.

Step 3 of AA: Surrender

“We made a decision to turn our will and our lives over to the care of God as we understood Him.”

The AA surrender step is third in the Twelve-Step Program. You turn your individual will over to a higher power. You have faith that the higher power will help you recover.

The Big Book has this specific phrasing: “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. May I do Thy will always!”

Alcoholics Anonymous Is Not Religious

AA is not a religious organization. It demands belief in a higher power, but you can choose your own conception of what that means, whether that’s a religious god or not.

You need only believe in some power that is greater than yourself, because, as a mere individual, you have no effective mental defense against drinking.

The Big Book specifically addresses agnostics and atheists:

  • “Half of us thought we were atheists or agnostics.”
  • “If a mere code of morals or a better philosophy of life were sufficient to overcome alcoholism, many of us would have recovered long ago. But we found that such codes and philosophies did not save us, no matter how much we tried.”
  • “When we saw others solve their problems by a simple reliance upon the Spirit of the Universe, we had to stop doubting the power of God. Our ideas did not work. But the God idea did.”
  • “After a while we had to face the fact that we must find a spiritual basis of life–or else.” 
  • Having faith is not as large a leap as you might think. “Did we not have confidence in our ability to think? What was that but a sort of faith? Yes, we had been faithful, abjectly faithful to the God of Reason. So…faith had been involved all the time!”

Put your prejudice aside. You haven’t been able to solve your problems with your current beliefs. Why not give this new approach, which has worked for millions, a try?

Once you’re willing to entertain the idea of a higher power, you’re on your way.

AA Surrender: Step 3 Is About Trusting a Higher Power

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Here's what you'll find in our full Alcoholics Anonymous: The Big Book summary :

  • How alcoholism is a nearly insurmountable disease that non-alcoholics can't understand
  • The key 12 steps of the program, and why they work
  • Why Alcoholics Anonymous isn't a cult and why it works

Rina Shah

An avid reader for as long as she can remember, Rina’s love for books began with The Boxcar Children. Her penchant for always having a book nearby has never faded, though her reading tastes have since evolved. Rina reads around 100 books every year, with a fairly even split between fiction and non-fiction. Her favorite genres are memoirs, public health, and locked room mysteries. As an attorney, Rina can’t help analyzing and deconstructing arguments in any book she reads.

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