5 NA Prayers You Should Know


Narcotics Anonymous has a spiritual element that is interwoven with the foundation of 12-step programs. Prayers are often used as reminders and encouragement for the journey of sobriety. There are over a dozen prayers used in Narcotics Anonymous (there are prayers that correlate with each of the 12 steps, and then some) but a particular few are regularly recited at NA meetings and are, therefore, the most important to know. In this article, we’ll explain the meanings behind the 5 most common NA prayers and the significance of them on your recovery journey.

NA Third Step Prayer

“Take my will and my life, guide me in my recovery, show me how to live.”

The companion to one of the most well-known and cited of the 12 Steps, the Third Step prayer is all about relinquishing control and placing trust in a Higher Power. A higher power doesn’t have to have a religious tie. It can be a person that motivates you, a positive feeling you want to sustain, or even a passion of yours that you want to maintain the ability to pursue, like music. It can be whatever you deem to be a motivating enough force to keep you on track for sobriety. 

NA Service Prayer

“GOD, grant us knowledge that we may act* according to Your Divine precepts. Instill in us a sense of Your purpose. Make us servants of Your will and grant us a bond of selflessness, that this may truly be Your work, not ours —in order that no addict, anywhere, need die from the horrors of addiction.”

(Note: The word “act” is sometimes substituted for “work” or “write”.)

The Service Prayer emphasizes the importance of a higher power on the journey of overcoming addiction. Despite the direct reference to God, the key NA prayer isn’t necessarily religious. Instead, it simply highlights the importance of having this entity–whatever it may be–guiding our thoughts and actions, rather than ourselves. The reasoning behind this is that since we got ourselves into the snarl of addiction, we can’t entrust ourselves alone to get out of this situation.

NA Gratitude Prayer

“My gratitude speaks, when I care and when I share with others the N.A. way.”

This comes from the Basic Text of Narcotics Anonymous (a piece of literature written about the basic nature of addiction) which opens the ‘Our Members Share’ section of the book. Gratitude is important because it inherently involves mindfulness, taking stock of what one has and what one’s accomplished. Without this, it is easy to feel that progress has stalled when one loses sight of where they’ve come from or from a feeling of entitlement. 

Recognizing that nothing is a given means appreciating everything in both good and bad moments. Although gratitude is a spiritual principle, it also requires action. It’s not enough to simply say that you’re grateful. This sentiment is displayed through service and sponsorship of others. This prayer reminds us to be a positive force in the lives of others as a way to honor all the support and forgiveness that it took to get us where we are today. 

NA Recovery Prayer

“We cannot change the nature of the addict or addiction. We can help to change the old lie “Once an addict, always an addict,” by striving to make recovery more available. God, help us to remember this difference.”

Also sometimes referred to as the Basic Text prayer as this can be found in the preface of the Basic Text of Narcotics Anonymous. This harkens to the original thought of Alcoholics Anonymous that addiction isn’t curable but it can be made manageable. Pair this with NA’s definition of an addict as a person whose life is controlled by drugs, this prayer is a reminder that a recovering addict will always be perceptible to the risk of falling back into addiction, but that doesn’t mean that they’re powerless to those substances. 

Serenity Prayer

“God, grant me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change, the courage to change the things I can, and the wisdom to know the difference.”

The Serenity Prayer is the most commonly incited in both Narcotics Anonymous and Alcoholics Anonymous; It is used to open and close out NA meetings and is said at large-scale Narcotics Anonymous conferences. Accredited to Reinhold Niebuhr, this prayer (the lines included above are merely an excerpt of what’s normally recited), serves as a focal point because it embodies the fundamental principles of Narcotics Anonymous–having trust, and being open to accepting help–which are ultimately the same principles for addiction treatment as a whole. 

The desire for control is believed to be the biggest roadblock in overcoming addiction. Giving up this desire, trusting control to external sources (whether they’re God, a higher power, or a more earthly cause) is key to unlearning the behaviors and mindset that got a person into their situation in the first place.

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