What Is A God Box?
Technically, it is any small physical container that you choose: a small box or a holder with a lid into which you will place small, private notes written to your higher power. You’ll find a fine collection of God Boxes online, (TheLatestThing/gor/god-boxes), including many beautifully decorated options designed to set the mood for prayer and meditation. For example, you might like the “Serenity Prayer Box,” or the “Give It to God Prayer Box,” or the “Prayer Changes Things Box.” You might purchase a simple wooden treasure chest, or a beautifully embossed God Box that comes paired with a deck of prayer cards with thoughtful program sayings on them. A favorite God Box in the collection says, “Life Is Fragile/Handle with Prayer.”
Whatever box you choose (and you may end up with several boxes over time), it is important to understand how to use a God Box the 12-Step way. Using a God Box in your 12 Step program asks that you work to become aware of how your thoughts and feelings sometimes drive you crazy, in a manner of speaking. The God Box is a tool you use to help you address obsessions, problem thoughts and uncomfortable feelings that crop up in the course of your day. It is a specific, physical place you will learn to turn to for help with your resentments, your fears, your feelings of remorse, and negativity of any kind.
Your sponsor may have already encouraged you to write out your thoughts and feelings in a journal. Whether or not this is your practice, learning to recognize your deeper negative and over-reactive emotions is a valuable skill. When feeling restless, irritable or discontent, the sober or abstinent person knows it’s time to get to work. Recognizing that you are disturbed is a simple first step. Just admit it to yourself. Then, let it be. But there’s the rub, because accepting what is actually going on with you can be challenging. Negativity is a part of being human, and alcoholics and addicts are certainly not free from acting out our character defects like fear, anger, self-pity, jealousy, laziness, or sadness. Learning to re-program yourself so that acting out on negative feelings can be more skillfully experienced is the bottom-line skill you need. Simply sitting with negative emotions and physical sensations is often not enough to relieve them. Identifying what they are and the root causes of their presence in your heart, mind and body is key. Writing about them or speaking to a counselor or friend often helps you get clearer on what’s going on.
So How Does A God Box Work?
This is where the God Box comes in. Writing a short note to God about a particular feeling, and asking for help in understanding and living with it, is what using the God Box is all about. You may find that practice is needed, but over time, you will learn how to clearly identify your negative emotion, thought, or projection, and how to ask for God or your Higher Power’s help in letting it be or having it removed. For example, you may have an over-abundance of fear in reaction to a job loss or an unexpected change that causes excessive worry. Realistically speaking, the situation can only be changed by taking thoughtful actions to improve the situation. But if your fear is mind-numbing to the point of your being unable to act, the God Box may help you right-size your negativity. Fear is normal, but too much of it can be debilitating and self-defeating. Time to write out your request for relief and prayerfully place it in your God Box.
Say you become obsessed about how the upstairs neighbor plays loud music late at night, keeping you awake? Obsession –an idea or thought that continuously preoccupies or intrudes on a person’s mind – may keep you awake after the music stops, and uncomfortable negative emotions like resentment and anger may swirl around too, making things even worse. It’s not that the neighbor isn’t being thoughtless, but that your obsessive resentment and anger, which keeps you awake at night, has become more of a problem than the noise itself. The more it happens, the more the obsession grows. Time for a God Box intervention.
It's never a bad idea to talk to a sponsor or a friend who knows you to help you reason through your reactive negativity. However you get to it, once you’re clear that the anger is HAPPENING TO YOU, and that your obsessive reactivity is what must change, you’re ready to write a note to God or your Higher Power. What matters is that your focus is on your own reactive thoughts and feelings, and therefore no longer on what’s wrong with the neighbor or the situation. You have become accountable. You’re asking for YOUR obsession to be removed. In the clear light of reasoning the issue through by writing to God about it, your note asks for relief from your obsession rather than a change in circumstances.
Put It In The God Box!
In this inner-focused process, the physical act of writing out a note and PUTTING IT IN THE GOD BOX, enables you to turn it over to a power greater than yourself. The writing of the note states your part in the problem clearly, or as well as you can state it in the present moment. Placing it in the God Box is the ultimate turning-it-over gesture. Once done completely, your mind and negative emotions calm down. Thoughts and feelings about the issue may reappear but you remember it’s in your God Box and the reactivity recedes. You know when the obsession is being eased because you no longer lay awake and blame your neighbor for your discomfort.
Writing a note to God and placing it in your God Box puts you in a new state of mind, a state where practical, non-harming solutions come more easily. Maybe in this state of mind you decide to wear earbuds to bed, blocking out the sound. Maybe you decide to be friendlier to the neighbor, and to do that, you start praying for them. Whatever solutions come, their presence is a signal that the God Box is working its magic for you. It is doing for you what you could not do for yourself – it is removing the negative obsession. In the end, you’ll probably sleep better too.
Using The God Box
The idea is to write a note to God about any situation that is troubling you. You prepare yourself for this act by becoming self-aware and humble. In the calmest, most spiritual state of mind that you can muster, you make a prayerful request for relief from your negativity. You take action by physically turning the request on paper over to God by placing it in the God Box. You let it go. If the obsession or negativity continues, it’s your signal to keep working on it. You may need to do more writing or speak to someone further about the issue. You may decide to move through the whole process again. It could be wise to discuss possible outcomes and solutions with someone who may have similar issues and solved them. But if you trust the process, eventually relief will come. A solution will present itself. Things that used to bother you will begin to fade from your thoughts and your reactive feelings will diminish.
The God Box is a miracle-worker, and your hard work is the means by which change begins to happen. A popular internet blogger (Best Self Magazine) says that the first use of the God Box is to make it a safe place to put your true feelings and regrets, a place no one else knows about. The God Box offers you a private place to help you cope with problems and stressful situations. Later, a God box may be used as a prayerful place to put the names of loved ones and friends in need, making physical your heart-felt wishes for others. In any case, whether you are voicing kind wishes for others or requesting relief from negativity for yourself, it helps to add, “If it be thy will.” This allows you to remember that you do not know what is best. Humility itself is often a result of using your God Box over time.
The God Box Over Time
As the years pass and you re-read your prayerful notes to God, you will be amazed. You’ll recognize exactly how many prayers have actually been answered. You may want to date your notes, if this practice is one you continue to use. This will also allow you to track emotional patterns of worry and obsessions you have now overcome. Reviewing your God Box notes annually might become a good way to help you recognize your emotional growth in the program. With a humble attitude in place, a review may help you deal more successfully with the problems you’re facing currently. It’s amazing how clearly you’ll be able to recognize how many of your prayers have been answered.
To put it succinctly, the God Box is not an excuse for taking no action but a powerful tool to help you gain perspective while you continue to take mindful action. Using a God Box will teach you how to more thoughtfully work towards solving your problems and actualizing your goals, the most important of which is to maintain a meaningful sobriety in which you change and grow spiritually.
The Big Book of Alcoholics Anonymous, 4th Edition, New York. First Printing, 2001. Book.
Bella Online: The Voice of Women. “The God Box by Kathy L.” 2022. Accessed March 3, 2022.
Best Self Magazine. “A God Box: A Practice for Surrendering Worries and Fears.” Issue Archives. Bestselfmedia.com/god-box. Accessed March 3, 2022.
Breakthrough Recovery Outreach. “Using a God Box in Recovery.” August 15, 2022. Accessed March 3, 2022.
Casey, Karen. “The God Box is a Tool for Letting Go.” Sept. 9, 2010. Womens-spirituality.com. Accessed March 3, 2023.
Gift of Recovery. The Latest Thing Online Shopping/GoR/God-Boxes. Accessed March 3, 2022.