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Old 11-01-2013, 11:22 AM   #1
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Default Step Eleven

About Step 11

"As we go through the day we pause, when agitated or doubtful, and ask for the right thought or action. We constantly remind ourselves we are no longer running the show, humbly saying to ourselves many times each day 'Thy will be done.' We are then in much less danger of excitement, fear, anger, worry, self-pity or foolish decisions. We become much more efficient. We do not tire as easily, for we are not burning up energy foolishly as we did when we were trying to arrange life to suit ourselves." [Anonymous, Big Book, AA World Services, 1939]

"Those of us who have come to make regular use of prayer would no more do without it than we would refuse air, food or sunshine. And for the same reason. When we refuse air, light, or food, the body suffers. And when we turn away from meditation and prayer, we likewise deprive our minds, our emotions, and our intuitions of vitally needed support. As the body can fail its purpose for lack of nourishment, so can the soul." [Anonymous, Twelve Steps and Twelve Traditions, A.A. World Services]

"A daily regimen of prayer and meditation makes it clear that relief from pain of the past is just a day-to-day reprieve - we must relentlessly pursue recovery on a daily basis. . . Spiritual growth and development occur slowly and only through discipline. The best example of the discipline of prayer is that of Jesus as He prayed frequently to know His Father's will. In the Lord's Prayer, the singularly most important element is 'Thy will be done, on earth as it is in heaven' " [Anonymous, The Twelve Steps for Christians, RPI Publications
Step 11: Related Biblical Themes

Step 11 makes it very clear that even when we have gotten this far - which may sometimes feel like a lifetime away from Step One - it is still possible to improve our relationship with God. We are not done yet. We have not been transformed into some kind of grand spiritual master. No dazzling enlightenment has eliminated our need for further spiritual growth. Step Eleven makes it clear that the Twelve Steps are just the beginning of the spiritual life. You can work on Step Eleven for a lifetime! Call it discipleship if you find that language to be more comfortable but the words are not the important thing here. Step Eleven encourages us to use the spiritual disciplines of prayer and meditation to seek improvement in our relationship with God.

* Prayer Many of us prayed a lot when we were acting out our addictions. Those prayers didn't seem to be very helpful. Of course, as we look back on them, our prayers may now seem a little strange. I remember one person telling me that they prayed desperately that God would deliver them from alcoholism so that they could continue to drink! That illustrates well the problem many of us have had with prayer. We have used prayer as a way to manipulate God into doing what we want. Many of us are indebted to the Twelve Steps for teaching us an entirely new approach to prayer.

If your experience with prayer has focused largely on petitionary prayer (making requests of God) then you probably were taught to pray like this: make a list of the concerns you have, the people you care about, what they need, what needs to be done, and then bring this list to God's attention and request that God be actively involved in responding to the list you have made. The pattern is: I control the agenda, God responds to my agenda. This is very different from the kind of prayer encouraged in this Step. Notice that the prayer encouraged in Step Eleven is specifically limited to asking for the knowledge of God's will and the power to carry out it out. This completely reverses the pattern: God controls the agenda, I ask for the power to be involved in carrying out God's agenda. The problem with typical approaches to petitionary prayer is that they assume that we are wise enough to come up with an agenda for God to carry out. This reverses appropriate roles - and it is very dangerous for people already susceptible to grandiosity! The purpose of prayer in Step Eleven is to help us remember that God is God and that God's agenda is worth seeking and following.

* Meditation Meditation is not some New Age spiritual practice recently invented in a hot tub in California. It is a spiritual discipline with a very long and rich history in the Christian and Jewish tradition (see for example: Psalm 1:1-2, Psalm 63:6, Psalm 19:14). It is important to remember that the work we have done (and are doing) in Step Ten provides the context in which we do Step Eleven. Meditation is not some exercise in metaphysical speculation - it is in the context of continuing to take inventory, doing confession and making amends that we seek conscious contact with God. We seek contact with God as we do the hard work of recovery. The specific meditative practices that work for each of us may vary widely. For some of us just the discipline of being quiet and listening can bring great gains. Life can be full of distractions, meditation helps us to pay attention. Others find it helpful to have a specific focus for meditation - a text of Scripture, an image of God, a saying of Jesus. Still others find it helpful to make room for creative exercises that engage our imagination as part of meditation - like putting ourselves into the story of the prodigal son and thinking, feeling, seeing the Father approach us.

It is probably worth emphasizing that the practice of meditation is not just an attempt to listen to our "inner voices." Expect your inner voice to say things like "this would be easier if we had an occasional drink." Not very helpful! The whole point of this kind of meditation is to refocus the center of our lives outside of our grandiose egos. Meditation is not just to help us get in touch with ourselves. It is to help us get in touch with God and with his will for our lives.

* Conscious contact The expression "conscious contact" may need some explanation. Many of us can look back on our relationship with God and see the effect of many unconscious factors. Suppose, for example, that we believe God to be a loving and kind God but, in spite of this conviction about the character of God, we find ourselves experiencing fear when we are aware of God's presence. This disconnection between our convictions about God and our experience of God can be very confusing and distressing. Almost certainly there are unconscious dynamics involved. It is possible, for example, that even though we believe God to be loving, we nevertheless respond to God based on our experiences with other authority figures in our lives. Part of the goal of Step Eleven is to sort out these unconscious connections and to build a new fully conscious relationship with God that is untainted by the trauma we may have experienced in other relationships.
"No matter what you have done up to this moment, you get 24 brand-new hours to spend every single day." --Brian Tracy
AA gives us an opportunity to recreate ourselves, with God's help, one day at a time. --Rufus K.
When you get to the end of your rope, tie a knot and hang on. --Franklin D. Roosevelt
We stay sober and clean together - one day at a time!
God says that each of us is worth loving.
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