Step Eleven tells us, “We sought through prayer and meditation to improve our conscious contact with God, as We understood Him, seeking only for knowledge of His Will for us and the power to carry that out.”
By the time most of us reach Step Eleven, we have worked out whatever issues we may have had with the idea of a Higher Power. Some of us entered recovery as atheists and, though a lot of work and diligence, overcame our fears or misconceptions about God and found a spiritual element to life we never knew before. Some of us become agnostics, not sure of what we believe exactly, but willing to consider the idea that maybe, just maybe, there is a Higher Power at work in our lives. Others develop an already existing belief in God and begin working on a daily relationship with Him.
No matter what your current situation, if you have arrived at Step Eleven, it is time to take your recovery to the next level. But first, give yourself a pat on the back for the excellent work you have been doing thus far. If you have made a sincere effort to work the first ten steps, you have surely gathered together a significant number of days of sobriety and you have committed yourself to walk this road of recovery.
For many, prayer and meditation are new (and sometimes scary) concepts. Some of us have never prayed before and the thought of doing so brings up uncomfortable feelings. Others are under the belief that meditation is something done only by Buddhists or Hindus. And, further still, there are those of us who have a desire to perform these spiritual practices, but get nervous about actually doing them for fear that we won’t do it right or it won’t work for us.
Just like every other aspect of the 12-step program, keep it simple. Don’t over analyze this step or allow yourself to be consumed with fear of the unknown. The general 12-step philosophy behind prayer is that it represents you talking to the God of your own understanding. The meditation aspect is you listening to God. The only thing you need to do to work this step in your daily life is to pray for God’s Will for your life and ask for the power to carry it out.
When we were in our addiction, we were a shining example of self-will run riot. We did what we want, when we wanted and we didn’t care who we had to hurt along the way. We manipulated situations –and people –so we could achieve the outcome we wanted. We lied, cheated and stole to get our way. In the process, we learned that we did not have the power to manage our own lives and that we were headed straight to the bottom….and fast. Now, we have to learn to rely on a Higher Power, trusting that His Will for us will always be superior to that which we will upon ourselves.
There are an infinite number of ways to pray.
Some pray on their knees. Some pray out loud in their car on the way to work. Others simply say, “Thy Will, not mine, be done.” Even a sincere “thank you” represents a prayer. As for meditation, some do yoga or listen to guided meditations. Others meditate by chanting or repeating the same phrase again and again and then wait for God’s response.
Remember, the Twelve Steps is a simple program for complicated people. There is no right way to pray and there is no right way to meditate. There is only the way that works best for you.
If you still feel confused about this step, or feel a general uneasiness about its implications, talk about it with your sponsor and recovery friends. The next time you are at a meeting, suggest this step as a topic for the meeting. Listen to the experience of others and find out how they incorporate Step Eleven into their daily lives.