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Alcohol & Health
Helping Alcoholics
Where Does My Call Go?
Updated on May 8, 2023
6 min read

Step 3 AA

What is Step 3 of AA?

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

In the previous steps, you learn and accept that your life is unmanageable and you have no control over restoring sanity. The third step of Alcoholics Anonymous (AA) asks you to acknowledge the higher power you noted in step 2 and ask for its help in your alcohol addiction recovery process.

Step 3 is about giving up the power struggle and turning your will to a higher power. In this step, you'll feel serenity by opening yourself to faith, hope, and trust. It’s about getting out of your own way and allowing a power greater than yourself to help you.


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What Does the Third Step of AA Mean?

The third step is about making a decision about your higher power. It requires you to look at how your commitment to yourself and your spirituality can help you on your road to recovery.

Additionally, step 3 helps you understand how acting on your destructive impulses has affected you and those around you. This step allows you to see how alcohol addiction has caused you to lose touch with your higher power.

It also helps you understand and regain that connection. By embracing a spiritual process and surrendering control, you can begin to experience the benefits of alcohol addiction treatment and support.

How Does Step 3 Work?

In step 3 of AA's 12-step program, you focus on learning about your higher power's will. Here, you'll turn your life over to your higher power and allow them to guide you.

One of AA participants' most powerful tools in this step is the Serenity Prayer by Reinhold Niebuhr. The Serenity Prayer states:

“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.”

This prayer helps you accept the serenity that comes with an understanding that you cannot control other people. However, you can control your reaction to a situation.


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The Third Step Prayer

In addition to the Serenity Prayer, step 3 includes its own prayer. The Third Step Prayer is as follows:

“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!”


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Do I Need to Believe in God to Go Through the 12 Steps?

No. Many AA participants consider themselves agnostic or atheistic. Participants in AA are not required to accept anyone else’s definition or concept of God.

The first three steps of AA’s 12-step program focus on a higher power. Sometimes, the spiritual aspects of AA make people uncomfortable. However, it’s important to note that “higher power” doesn’t need to mean a specific god. 

You are free to create your own idea of a higher power. The purpose of step three is to help people struggling with alcohol addiction find their own personal power and support, regardless of religious beliefs.

Spirituality in Sober Living

An essential part of working through step 3 is discovering the benefits of open-mindedness. You must open your mind to the possibility of a higher power.

However, you must also accept that not everyone’s definition of a higher power must match your own. Part of addiction recovery is accepting that spirituality is expansive and all-inclusive. It's also a necessary part of living a sober life.

Tips for Following Step 3

How do you put the wisdom of step 3 into practice? Here are some tips for manifesting step 3:

Choose A Higher Power You Believe In

Spirituality is an important part of addiction recovery. Some people turn to alcohol and drugs because they feel alone or believe there's no reason to live.

Turning to a higher power can help motivate you to live a sober life. However, you need to give yourself to something you believe in.

Some call their higher power God, while others may call it:

  • The Universe
  • A force
  • Nature
  • Other people

Knowing What You Can and Can't Control

People struggling with alcohol addiction often feel out of control, including their own drinking. Some use alcohol to forget the painful things that are out of their control.

Self-reflect and decide what factors in your life you can’t control. You can recite the Serenity Prayer as a reminder that there are things that you can and can't control. Consider making a list, working through them, and giving them up to your higher power.

Open Yourself Up to Guidance

Many find it difficult to accept that they need help because of their need to feel in control. However, there is nothing wrong with asking or seeking for help.

Step 3 suggests that you should be open for guidance instead of resisting. Attend Alcoholics Anonymous meetings or seek addiction treatment programs that can provide guidance on how to stop drinking and build a healthier lifestyle.

Have a Positive Attitude

Alcoholics often turn to drinking as a coping mechanism to relieve stress. They often struggle with painful or negative emotions such as:

  • Pain
  • Anger
  • Frustration
  • Depression
  • Anxiety

You should focus on cultivating a positive outlook by looking to your higher power. By learning to turn your feelings over to a higher power, you'll understand that you're not alone and something's looking after you.

Questions to Ask During Step 3 of AA

There are several questions you can ask yourself that will help you work through step 3, including:

  • How has acting on your self-will affected your life and the lives of those around you?
  • How can I take the action of turning my will over to a higher power?
  • What is the difference between my will and my higher power’s will?
  • How is my higher power working in my life?
  • Is my concept of a higher power working for me, or do I need to rethink it?
  • What changes might occur in my life if and when I decide to turn over my will to my higher power?
  • Is there anything I’m unwilling to do in my recovery, and if so, why?
  • How does step one help or relate to my decision in this step?

What’s Next After Step 3?

Once you have completed step 3, it’s time to move on to step 4. Step 4 dives deeper into who you are and prompts you to acknowledge your character flaws to take inventory of yourself. The purpose of step 4 is to evaluate your person to improve your relationship with yourself.

Updated on May 8, 2023
7 sources cited
Updated on May 8, 2023
All Alcoholrehabhelp content is medically reviewed or fact checked to ensure as much factual accuracy as possible.

We have strict sourcing guidelines and only link to reputable media sites, academic research institutions and, whenever possible, medically peer reviewed studies.
  1. Anderson Spickard“Why Is Spirituality an Essential Part of a Recovery Program?” Psychology Today, 2017.
  2. Alcoholics Anonymous: Is A.A. For You?” Alcoholics Anonymous.
  3.  Sue McGreevey. “What Makes AA Work?” Harvard Gazette, 2011.
  4. Suire, Jared, et al. “The Psychosocial Benefits of Alcoholics Anonymous.” American Journal on Addictions,2006.
  5. Mandy Erickson. “Alcoholics Anonymous most effective path to alcohol abstinence.” Stanford Medicine, 2020.
  6. Kaskutas LA. “Alcoholics anonymous effectiveness: faith meets science.” J Addict Dis, 2009.
  7. Krentzman, et al. “How Alcoholics Anonymous (AA) and Narcotics Anonymous (NA) Work: Cross-Disciplinary Perspectives.” Alcohol Treat Q, 2010.
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All content created by Alcohol Rehab Help is sourced from current scientific research and fact-checked by an addiction counseling expert. However, the information provided by Alcohol Rehab Help is not a substitute for professional treatment advice.
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