Sunday, June 05, 2011

Devotionals Used Daily by Early AAs

Quiet Time (a time for prayer, Bible study, seeking God's guidance, and using Christian daily devotionals) was a "must" in early Alcoholics Anonymous (AA).

The practice was later abandoned in A.A., and Bill Wilson made the comment that he always regretted that this important practice was no longer used. However, Bill Wilson and his wife Lois continued to use it themselves. And certainly during the lives of Akron co-founder Dr. Bob Smith and his wife Anne, they continued to be used in the Smith Home and also at the homes of other Akron A.A. pioneers.

They were used in three major ways: (1) Individual quiet times. (2) Group quiet times. (3) Daily morning quiet time led by Dr. Bob's wife Anne Ripley Smith at the Smith Home in Akron, Ohio. Each morning, A.A. pioneers, their wives, and their families would gather at the Smith Home at 855 Ardmore Avenue in Akron. They would frequently have coffe and cookies. And Anne would lead them in prayer, in words from the Bible, in a quiet time for seeking God's guidance, and in discussions of the materials she shared from the journal she kept from 1933-1939 and from the devotionals. Akron AAs joshingly described Anne's morning teachings as "spiritual pablum."

Devotionals were used in all three of the foregoing ways. The devotionals usually contained a Bible verse for the day, a prayer for the day, a thought for the day, and citation of Bible verses for further study. An exception was The Runner's Bible by Nora Smith Home--a favorite devotional of Dr. Bob's. The Runner's Bible contained chapters on Christian subjects such as God, Jesus Christ, Healing, Forgiveness, Guidance, Love, and so on. Each chapter was loaded with pertinent Scriptural references on the subject.

The primary devotionals were five: (1) The Upper Room, a Methodist quarterly brought to the Smith Home by "Mother G.," mother of one of the A.A. pioneers. (2) The Runner's Bible by Nora Smith Holm. (3)My Utmost for His Highest by Oswald Chambers. (4) Daily Strength for Daily Needs. (5) Victorious Living by E. Stanley Jones.

Sources for the foregoing information are covered in substantial detail in the following publications: Dick B., Good Morning!: Quiet Time, Morning Watch, Meditation, and Early A.A. (; The Akron Genesis of Alcoholics Anonymous (; Anne Smith's Journal 1933-1939 (;The Books Early AAs Read for Spiritual Growth, 7th ed. (; and DR. BOB and the Good Oldtimers.

The foregoing Christian devotionals used by the early A.A. program were uniquely valuable in that they focused on the Bible and readable "chunks" in the Bible which could be and were used for daily morning inspiration, for Bible references and verses to be committed to the renewed mind, for group discussion, and for teaching by A.A. leaders such as Dr. Bob, Anne Smith, Henrietta Seiberling, and later by recovered A.A. pioneers.

Dick B., author, historian, retired attorney, Bible student, CDAAC, and active recovered A.A. member with over 25 years of continuous sobriety.

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